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'Wide-open opportunity': Bibb County Sheriff's Office recruiters battle deputy shortage

Sgt. Clay Williams with the sheriff's office says they're short 150-200 deputies.

MACON, Ga. — For years, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office has battled deputy shortages.

Last year, our partners with Mercer's Center for Collaborative Journalism reported they were down 150 deputies. In 2019, they were down 100. Now, they're still short by at least 150 deputies, according to Sgt. Clay Williams.

"You have a wide-open opportunity," said Deputy Devon Baltimore, who just started about six months ago.

'Opportunity,' is why Baltimore made the switch from the department of corrections to the sheriff's office.

"I was a CO there, and now I'm a deputy here, but we still do the same details," he said.

His job is mostly the same, he says, but Baltimore has dreams beyond the jail.

"End goal is to go on patrol, then work my way onto a special operations team like SWAT," Baltimore said. "I love special ops. I've been on special ops for a while."

His recruiters, Cpl. Garrison Page and Sgt. Amanda Baker, say Baltimore is one of their best hires. They're looking for leaders with positive attitudes.

"That's the goal for the future is to find people like us that can take this agency into the future and be leaders later on," Page said.

Baker says they've hired 26 deputies in the past three months, but they're looking for more to fill the gap.

"Every little bit helps, but we're still in need of qualified people that have the passion for this type of work," she said.

Baltimore says that passion plays a big part in law enforcement.

"This is what you must want to do. You can't just come over here and say, 'I want to be a deputy,' and that's it. You've got to know that this is what you want to do, because there's a lot of stuff involved," he said.

To become a deputy, you need to pre-apply on the sheriff's office website. After that, you'll move on to your formal interview round. Eventually, you'll even have to do a polygraph test. They say that's to make sure they have quality candidates.

Earlier this year, Sheriff David Davis announced a higher starting pay for new deputies. That pay now starts around $38,000.

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