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Richmond County Sheriff's Office to transfer funds to 911 center

Sunday, July 20, 2014 7:37 PM
Last updated Monday, July 21, 2014 12:36 AM
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The Augusta 911 Center has burned through its budgeted overtime pay at a faster rate ever since the Richmond County Sher­iff’s Office implemented its new zone system.

Concerned that the center won’t meet its budgetary commitments, Sheriff Richard Roundtree has extended a helping hand in the form of a $54,000 funds transfer.

The sheriff’s office implemented the zone system in May to replace the 35 beats the county had operated with for years. The new plan – with eight zones throughout the county – was designed to increase police presence while cutting down on response time.

Though the change has been a positive one for the sheriff’s office, it has placed more strain on dispatchers in the 911 center, Director Dominick Nutter said.

“When we did the conversion to our new system and (the sheriff’s office) went to the zone concept, the number of officers on the channel for the north precinct increased by 45 to 47 officers, which is entirely too many for one dispatcher to handle,” he said.

Because dispatchers must also answer 911 calls, Nutter said, he has had to bring in extra people to answer phones. In April, the Augusta Com­mis­sion approved the hiring of five new dispatchers, who were set to start July 1. However, it takes six to eight months to fully train a dispatcher, Nutter said.

In the meantime, he plans to pay overtime to maintain seamless service. He anticipates spending about $108,000 out of his budget to accommodate this.

Enter the sheriff’s office.

Realizing that the stress put on the 911 center was more or less the result of the new zone program, Chief Deputy Pat Clayton said, the sheriff offered to foot half the bill in order to help with Nutter’s budget.

“(Nutter) has always been amicable to help us, and we’ve always been very amicable to help him in certain situations,” he said. “We need to have a great working relationship, I do believe, with all of the public safety agencies.”

The money will come from the department’s salaries and benefits accounts, which have held a surplus in recent years. Clayton said at least 225 officers have left the department over the past three years, creating a “savings” of sorts.

“We have a lot of savings that are generated from people leaving and people filling those positions,” he said.

The transfer was approved by the Augusta Com­mis­sion last week.

Though the fix is only temporary, Nutter said, it might be just what he needs to stay under his budget of $300,000 for overtime this year.

It’s too early to tell how big of an impact the money will have, but Nutter said he’s grateful that Roundtree thought ahead.

“He understands the second and third order of effects,” Nutter said. “The changes they’re making to make things better for the citizens is going to have a negative impact on my organization, and he realizes that. What he’s doing is helping to accomplish the mission. No matter if he helped me do it or not, I still have to get it done.”

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corgimom 07/20/14 - 09:35 pm
I think the citizens of

I think the citizens of Richmond County need to take a long look at why 225 officers have left the RCSO in the last 3 years.

seenitB4 07/21/14 - 07:27 am
225 officers have left the RCSO in the last 3 years.

I wish some would come on here & tell us the truth.

nocnoc 07/21/14 - 07:48 am

If you have ever called 911 you'll understand then next remark.

Want to reduce the delays and increase the number of calls that can be handled?

Reduce the number of Needless, Senseless Questions we hear too often.

Example Given: "Is anyone sick at you location?" When calling in Gun Shots.

nocnoc 07/21/14 - 08:10 am
Possible reasons 225 officers have left the RCSO in 3 years

Some needed to go.

Some wanted better Pay or needed a long overdue raise.

Some saw little hope of promotion in the politically appointed Officer ranks RCSO.

Some found better places to work.

Some retired.

Some got tired of working an increasingly more dangerous war zone beat.

My nieces husband was a Detective Grade for a Northwest Ga County 16+ years on the force. BS in Law Enforcement, just finishing up his Masters. Been filling in doing the job for 3 years, excellent ratings and high closure win rate. But come elections the winner placed his BUD in the slot he had been doing for 3 years. (sound familiar)

He put his resume out and was, interviewed a week later, hired a week after that by a major banks Southeast Division Fraud Director.
A $30+K bump overnight.

It boils down to this
While too many Cities Tax to build and grow (yeah right), spend and cut benefits to spend more, and promote based on Political loyalty, they are losing some good employees.

For RCSO to adopt a Merit Based System for promotions?
Leaving only 2 or 3 slots for Political Appointees.

csraguy 07/21/14 - 08:41 pm
Real Reasons They Leave

According to the exit interviews conducted by the Sheriff's Office for the past year and 7 months, over 75% left due to the salary and benefits. The pay is far below the norm, even for law enforcement and the benefits are far worse. Both previous Sheriff's have had this problem and Sheriff Roundtree is experiencing it as well. The other 25% include firing, leaving the field, not happy with the job, etc.

As for promotions, that also changed under the new administration which includes testing, oral boards, education, experience, etc.

As for the 911 center, they are also woefully understaffed and need assistance from the commission. The pro-active policing methods that have increased arrests and lowered crime rates have placed a great strain on an already overworked 911 system.

AFjoe 07/22/14 - 09:01 am
Increase of 45?

The article states that when the went to the "zone" the officers increased by 45 to 47. The way it is written they must have had only 2 before.

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