Augusta Seeks More Funding to Support Deputies - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Augusta Seeks More Funding to Support Deputies

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Augusta County has more than 60 sworn deputies patrolling the streets, schools and courthouses, but they're spread very thin throughout a county that's nearly 1,000 square miles.

That's one issue the sheriff is taking to the General Assembly.

Gun control and school security are dominating the law enforcement debate before the General Assembly this year. But some of the biggest issues for the Augusta Sheriff's Office, and many of their colleagues around the state, are the constant concerns over manpower and deputy salaries.

This time of year, Augusta County's top cops spend much of their time commuting to Richmond.

"We've been there either five or six times on various, on different legislative issues, changes in laws, budget, pay raise, manpower," said Sheriff Randy Fisher.

Manpower has been a problem for years for the second-largest county in Virginia. Currently the sheriff's office is four deputies down, which is a problem especially when someone's out for training, illness or injury.

"There have been nights and days that we've been down to four. Four deputies for 1,000 square miles? That does create a public safety concern," Fisher said.

"The best way that we have identified thus far to improve response time - get to these locations as quickly and safely as we can - is to put more cops on the street," said Captain Glenn Hanger.

That request goes each year to the compensation board, which funds salaries for sheriff's departments all over Virginia. But it's tough to expect growth when existing deputies haven't seen a raise from the state in seven years.

"Our deputies do what they do because of their love for the job and their dedication to helping the public. If it were for the money, no one would be here," Hanger said.

Augusta supervisors have found money for bonuses. They also pay for benefits, training, equipment and deputies the state doesn't cover.

The sheriff's office will ask the county to fund one more when supervisors begin budget work next month.

It will also ask Augusta County supervisors to considering the purchase of Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), which are the on-board computers that allow deputies to file reports and do license checks while working in the field.

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