Ossoff introduces bipartisan bill to help law enforcement fill vacancies

Several metro Atlanta sheriffs are supporting a bill that would help with recruitment and retention.
Taylor says a new bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Jon Ossoff would help agencies recruit deputies and retain quality ones.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Staffing shortage is a common problem among law enforcement agencies in Georgia and across the country.

But relief could be on the way.

“We have to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to personnel,” said Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor.

Taylor says a new bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Jon Ossoff would help agencies recruit deputies and retain quality ones.

“I’ve always said we want to bring in the right candidates,” said Taylor.

According to release by Sen. Ossoff’s Office, the Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act establishes a new vetting requirement for officers hired using the supplemental funding provided in the bill and ensures they undergo background checks and mental health evaluations.

Currently, Federal law does not require agencies to perform background checks on new recruits through the COPS Hiring Program.

The bill also provides a one-time emergency boost in funding to law enforcement agencies to help fill vacancies.

“Right now, vacancies are right at 47, so we’re dwindling that number down but it is not as quick as we would like to,” Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens.

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office says the extra funding could help the agency fill those spots that can be hard to fill as officers and sheriff’s deputies in metro Atlanta jump to neighboring counties and jurisdictions seeking the best pay and benefits.

“These funds that may be coming to us will help us expand our recruiting budget, now give us the opportunity to go outside the metro and go outside state and recruit for other people as well,” said Sheriff Owens.

Owens says less vacancies means more experienced deputies protecting the areas they serve.

“It puts more deputies on the street to overall keep our community safe,” said Sheriff Owens

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat released a statement in support of the bill:

“As we adjust and adapt to the dynamic demands placed on the law enforcement profession, recruiting and retaining deputies who are able to serve beyond the walls of the jail will be critical to our success,” said Fulton County Sheriff Patrick ‘Pat’ Labat. “Making sure those who are sworn to protect and serve are fully equipped to meet the needs of our community remains one of my top priorities. The bipartisan Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act introduced by U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff will provide vital support toward accomplishing that mission.”