GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – On Wednesday, Glynn County commissioners held a special meeting to address a critical shortage of police officers.
During the meeting, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a proposal that would address staffing challenges and restructure the department’s pay plan to address a problem law enforcement agencies nationwide are facing.
One major thing was proposed at the meeting: more money.
The agenda said commissioners discussed future pay plan changes for public safety — specifically to address the shortage.
The Glynn County police chief is making the request. The department has allotted a budget to support 133 sworn officers. They said 41 officers have left since June 2022.
Earlier this year, the police department told News4JAX that there are not enough qualified candidates interested in joining the department.
Some of the reasons why there are shortages — especially in smaller or rural areas — are due to larger police departments typically paying more. Those departments usually hire from smaller counties.
Glynn County Police Chief Scott Ebner says pay is one of the biggest issues hindering recruitment, and is calling for higher pay for officers.
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The officer shortage is very concerning to Sean Johnson, who moved to St. Simons two years ago from Athens Georgia.
“That is kind of worrisome, if I have to call someone and there is no one there to call,” Johnson said.
David Miller is a St. Simon’s native, and he says there’s also a lack of consistency with officers.
“It never seems like I see the same police officer twice, it always seems like there is a lot of turnover,” Miller said.
High turnover has been a reality at the top of the Glynn County Police Department.
Since 2017, there have been four chiefs of police.
This includes former chief of police John Powell in 2018. He was indicted for misconduct related to narcotics squad activities in 2020 and fired in 2021.
He was also the chief during Ahmaud Arbury’s killing.
News4JAX reached out to GCPD’s current chief about whether he thinks this controversy is impacting recruitment, he responded with a statement writing:
Turnover effects all organizations on many levels. I can only work on the present and plan for the future, that is my focus concerning the proposal I will submit to the Board of Commissioners today.Scott Ebner | Glynn County Police Chief
Nationally, many blame the police officer shortage on a two-fold moral effect that goes back to 2020: the Coronavirus pandemic and police criticism that boiled over following the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer.
In an officer pay study done by the Glynn County Police Department, it shows the average salary for a police officer in Georgia is a little more than $44,000. That is more than $12,000 below the national average. The study said Georgia has the sixth lowest pay for police officers in the country.