#13INVESTIGATES -- After serving in the military, Chris Sherrell decided to join the Macon Police Department in 2013.
"I grew up in a broken home and dealing with that growing up, I decided to get out in the community and help as much as possible," he said.
He later transitioned to a patrol deputy with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office after consolidation.
"Five years in Macon-Bibb County could essentially be the equivalent of 10 in other counties because of the work load that you do," he said.
Sherrell says every year, he saw more deputies turn in their badges, leaving the rest of them to pick up the slack.
"20-something calls a day on a 12-hour shift, you have no time to be proactive in the community. You get burned out real quick," he said.
That doesn't include the nearly two hours after his shift he would spend writing reports.
According to an Open Records Request filed by 13WMAZ, the sheriff's office paid nearly $3.8 million in overtime pay in 2016.
That number steadily increased and is now on track to top $5 million in 2019.
During that same time period, 111 deputies turned in their badges, including Sherrell.
Meanwhile, deputies had to respond to more calls than before. Sheriff David Davis made a presentation to commissioners showing crime rose five percent in 2018.
Sherrell says it wasn't the extra workload that made him leave, instead, it was the back-and-forth budget discussions by commissioners last year over furlough days and requiring employees to pay into their pensions.
"It was the unknowns when it comes to our pensions, the unknowns when it comes to our pay, the unknowns when it comes to our insurance," he said.
Sheriff Davis says Sherrell wasn't the only one driven out of his office during the budget discussions.
"You had other agencies recruiting our people saying, 'Hey you can come work for us, making about the same amount of money, and oh by the way, you'll answer maybe a quarter of the number of calls,'" said Davis.
He says he understands why deputies would make the switch, but he's concerned about losing any more deputies.
"We are at about call saturation for the number of deputies that we have, and so that affects the response time," said Davis.
He says deputies now have to prioritize their calls, with violent crimes getting immediate attention. Davis stresses that his deputies do a good job of responding to every call and solving crimes, but he admits there is little time for patrolling every neighborhood or even speed enforcement.
Davis says he's looking into new ways to bring in more deputies, like pay raises or signing bonuses.
According to a chart he presented to commissioners, the starting salary of a Bibb deputy is less than that of many other agencies, including the Houston County Sheriff's Office.
"We do need to make sure that our people are being paid a decent wage that is comparable to what other officers are making in a comparable-sized department," he said.
Davis also says that running a jail can also make it more difficult to recruit. He says every new deputy who does not have previous experience in law enforcement must start their career working in the jail before moving to patrol or other divisions.
He says deputies get a lot of training during that assignment. He admits, though, that many would-be recruits end up joining other agencies that do not have the task of staffing a jail.