Senate Passes Bills to Aid Local Law Enforcement

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Senate Republicans advanced a package of four bills on Wednesday that will strengthen support and compensation for Georgia’s local law enforcement officers. With bi-partisan support, the vote was nearly unanimous on every bill.

The legislation – Senate Bills 366, 367, 368 and 369 – follow the recommendations of the Compensation of Police and Sheriffs (COPS) Task Force, which Lt. Governor Cagle and the Senate launched last year to investigate and address compensation, benefits, and retention of Georgia’s police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and jailers. The task force was co-chaired by Lt. Governor Cagle and Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus). Members included Sens. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla), Jack Hill (R – Reidsville), Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), Tonya Anderson (D – Lithonia), and John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa).

“Whenever Georgians are asked about the most important issue they face in their lives, invariably public safety is at the top of their list of concerns,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R – Athens). “I am amazed at the sacrifices our local law enforcement officers make with the long hours they work, with the perilous duties, and for the low pay that they receive. I’m surprised that we are able to find anyone to do their jobs – and the Senate wants these brave men and women to know that we appreciate them.”

Lt. Governor Cagle said state efforts to ensure local law enforcement officers are compensated fairly will continue.

“Today is an important first step for our local law enforcement officers as we work to acknowledge their sacrifices and selfless service to the people of Georgia,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “We owe our full support to the men and women who keep our communities safe, and that’s why the Senate has advanced a comprehensive set of solutions that will lead to higher salaries and better benefits for local law enforcement officers. I’m proud of the work we have accomplished alongside so many of Georgia’s dedicated officers.”

This legislative package includes SB 366, which would require cities and counties to report salaries for local law enforcement officers to the Department of Community Affairs, which will compile the data and will compare regional pay scales to encourage competitive compensation levels. SB 367 increases support for families of fallen officers by allowing indemnification funds to be paid to an estate. SB 368 provides technical assistance to rural police departments and sheriffs’ offices. Finally, SB 369 makes necessary updates to enhance retirement and disability payments provided through the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit fund.

“All we have to do is turn on the news to see the dangers our law enforcement officers confront day in and day out,” said Sen. Greg Kirk. “I would like to thank Lt. Governor Cagle for his strong leadership and support for our law enforcement officers. This is only the beginning of our efforts to reward our officers for their tireless service.”

“Thanks to Lt. Governor Cagle for his leadership. Our officers place their lives on the line for our communities every single day,” said Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell), Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. “It is vital they have all the necessary resources to serve our communities.”

“Law enforcement officers all across this state put service before self on a daily basis. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues and Lt. Governor Cagle in leading the fight to ensure our law enforcement community has our full support,” added Sen. Tyler Harper.

“It was an honor to serve on the COPS Task Force and to carry SB 366 in the Senate,” said Sen. Steve Gooch. “This legislation will assist local governments with retention, recruitment, and competition within law enforcement. Raising salaries for people who put their lives on the line every day is simply the right thing to do. I look forward to working with the House of Representatives to secure final passage of this legislation.”