Bulloch County leaders hope a grant application will lead to partial funding of three new Bulloch County sheriff’s road deputies, who would target violent crimes with a focus on community oriented policing.
Bulloch County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bill Black and Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch are working together to write a bid for the 2017 Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, hiring grant that would fund 75 percent of the base salaries and fringe benefits for three full-time sheriff’s road deputies, said Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown.
Couch discussed the grant during a June 20 Bulloch County commissioners’ meeting, where a motion to move forward with the grant application met with unanimous approval.
The grant application deadline is July 10. If won, it would mean $107,000 toward the total cost of $164,000 for the three deputies and would cover three years, Couch said.
The grant would help rebuild a depleted Sheriff’s Office without burdening citizens.
“It’s time to take some pressure off taxpayers,” Brown said.
He said the new deputies, if hired, would help target violent crimes including “burglaries, drugs, gang activity and involvement,” as well as serve warrants, a service performed by the Sheriff’s Office for all branches of local law enforcement.
The department currently has only 24 road deputies — six per shift, he said.
“We want to see eight per shift, aside from supervisors, eventually,” Brown said.
The recently approved 2017 Bulloch County budget includes the addition of two road deputies and a school resource officer. If the grant is won, it will fund three additional deputies.
Black said applicants of the grant may apply for one of three divisions: immigration, homeland security or violent crimes, the division Brown, he and others chose.
“We barely have enough deputies to answer calls,” Black said. If the grant is won, it will provide deputies the chance to “do proactive law enforcement.”
“For a long time, we haven’t had a sufficient number of deputies,” he said.
Bulloch County has not utilized this grant in about 20 years, Couch said.
If secured, “this will build a good bridge to help them reach budget goals,” he said.
During the June 20 meeting, Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson praised the move.
“When someone puts up 75 percent of the money and we put up 25 percent, it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.
Bulloch County has a 1 in 8 chance for approval of the “very competitive” grant, Brown said.
The sheriff himself was hired as the result of a similar grant in 1998, he said.
Under then-Sheriff Arnold Ray Akins, former Chief Deputy Gene McDaniel and former Sheriff Lynn Anderson worked on writing the grant that resulted in the hiring of Brown and two other deputies, he said.
Although the application is not guaranteed to garner a grant, “we’re going to give it a shot,” he said.
It could be several months before county leaders learn whether their bid for the grant is successful, Couch said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.