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Outfitting one Richmond County Class A officer totals more than $6,000

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When the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office hires an officer, one facet that is often overlooked is the high cost of the uniform.

A fully equipped Rich­mond County Sheriff’s Office “Class A” officer’s uniform costs $6,478.09.

From the shirts, to the badge, to the shoes, each item has a price – and a reason.

“We want the officers to look professional. These uniforms are designed as the ‘dress’ uniforms,” said Capt. John Francisco, who trains new officers and is in charge of the uniform department.

“When people come into town, this is what they want to see.”

The uniforms are also designed to last. The shirts are made from a tropical weave of 55 percent down polyester and 45 percent wool. They have permanent creases and have been known to last for 10 years.

Every officer is fitted for their uniform by the quartermaster. The quartermaster then fills out a sheet saying exactly what he gave the deputy.

If something does get ripped or destroyed, the officer can bring the article in for a replacement.

Francisco says the uniform contract goes up for bid every year. Whoever wins must be able to provide a local location for altering. Currently, the contract belongs to Uniforms by John at 511 Broad St.

The deputies aren’t thrilled about every aspect of the uniform. It can be heavy, and the vest does not allow for much air. During the summer, it can be brutal.

Deputy Jose Ortiz said he purchased a small hose that can be plugged into the air conditioner in his car and then placed under the vest for some relief.

The hat is also not a favorite, but Francisco is quick to defend it.

“We are a paramilitary organization,” he said. “We have always worn hats as part of the uniform.”

The hat is made of tightly woven straw and is designed to keep the sun off the deputy’s head with a wide, stiff brim. Ortiz owns a wooden board that he puts his hat in to keep the brim flat when he is not wearing it.

All Richmond County officers start as jail staff. When working for the jail, they are issued recycled equipment.

If they are recommended by their superiors to be promoted to deputy, they are given new equipment. When they do retire or leave, they turn everything in.

The quartermaster decides whether the uniform is in good enough condition to be put back into circulation.

Richmond County has more than 500 Class A officers. So at any one time, there is more than $3 million in clothing and equipment patrolling the streets of Augusta.

BULKIER BULLET-PROOF VEST IMPRACTICAL

When Deputy J.D. Paugh was killed recently after being shot nine times with an assault rifle, everyone from his fellow officers to his motorcycle friends wanted to do something to help.

One night, several of Paugh’s friends and family met at one of his frequent hangouts to raise money for officers to get better bullet-proof vests.

The reality is, however, that a more protective vest would be not only more expensive but also impractical.

In the middle of the summer, when Augusta hits 100 degrees, the larger vest would be too hot and bulky for the officers to do their jobs, said Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. John Fransisco.

Right now, officers are equipped with a vest that will protect them from the weapon that they carry.

Fransisco said patrol deputies carry a Glock 40-caliber. The vests they wear are considered a threat level 2A, and are designed to protect them from that weapon.

The next level is a narcotics officer, who would get a level 3. SWAT officers have an even higher level vest, but they carry much more powerful weapons.

– Summer Moore, staff writer

Comments (13) Add comment
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noxiousfumes
419
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noxiousfumes 11/17/11 - 12:25 am
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$2500 for a two-way radio???

$2500 for a two-way radio??? Seems a bit pricey to me. . .

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 11/17/11 - 02:05 am
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The reason the radios cost so

The reason the radios cost so much is in order to meet new federal requirements under Homeland Security to improve communications between agencies. It is expensive but the radio is one of the most important aspects of what the officer needs.

If you would simply give the deputies a $3,000.00 raise (so they would make around 30k per year), it would bring them up closer to similar agencies within GA for size and call volume. The turnover rate would decrease greatly therefore reducing the need for uniform and new training expenses.

Until the commission understands that Public Safety is their NUMBER ONE responsibility to citizens, we will continue to have more of the same.

bclicious
642
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bclicious 11/18/11 - 05:41 am
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Asitisinaug, I agree with

Asitisinaug,

I agree with you. I bet a lot of citizens would not complain as much about weird smells, trashy streets, bus schedules, or poor customer service if they were on the ground getting the ever loving mess stomped out of them while wondering, "I wonder if a deputy is ever going to show up?"

The point is, you get what you pay for. When you are getting your butt beat, or your life is in danger; a minute can equal out to an eternity. If I am in trouble, I want to have the best police officer possible so show up at my door step. Also, I don't want to hear excuses about how the deputy was at another call, and times are tough.

So, the citizens of Augusta must decide:

Would you rather have an overfunded sheriff's department where it is very likely that you will get the service you deserve.

Or would you rather have clean streets, a perfect bus service, good smelling air, great customer service amongst the other services, and the most underfunded Sheriff's Department in the state. A Sheriff's Department in which the turnover is astronomical, and there are always 20-30 vacancies available?

YOU CHOOSE!

Augusta resident
1368
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Augusta resident 11/17/11 - 05:47 am
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They should get a uniform

They should get a uniform allowance on top of the regular issue. That would be for cleaning, repairs/alterations, footwear and extras like better equipment.

noxiousfumes
419
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noxiousfumes 11/17/11 - 07:44 am
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Thanks Asitis for clearing

Thanks Asitis for clearing that up. I agree that the last place we should cut the budget is the Sheriff's Dept. We have some of the best officers in the area and they do great work in spite of the constant lack of funding.

Ushouldnthave
0
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Ushouldnthave 11/17/11 - 08:04 am
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Asitis, $30,000 is no where

Asitis, $30,000 is no where close to the average (or even starting pay) for officers in similar jurisdictions and RCSO benefits are virtually nonexistent. I am always amazed that anyone stays in Richmond County to work. They just work for a great boss.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/17/11 - 04:46 pm
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They should be getting

They should be getting taylored bullet proof panels in their clothes, it's much cooler.

Lizbeth
0
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Lizbeth 11/17/11 - 07:06 pm
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Dang, the shirt costs more

Dang, the shirt costs more than the gun..

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 11/17/11 - 07:26 pm
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I guess we're putting a price
Unpublished

I guess we're putting a price on a man's life now. Sad.

Connor Threlkeld
672
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Connor Threlkeld 11/17/11 - 07:40 pm
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To clarify, the price listed

To clarify, the price listed for the shirt is for seven shirts. I'd wear the same badge every day, but I would draw the line at the same shirt.

fatboyhog
1885
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fatboyhog 11/17/11 - 07:48 pm
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How much cheaper (and more

How much cheaper (and more practical for the officer) would it be to issue one class A uniform for court and outfit the deputies in BDUs and web gear? Too much emphasis is placed on appearance. These men and women work for 12 hours +; they should be comfortable. Neatly pressed BDUs look as professional as the Class A uniforms. If the "specialized" divisions can wear them, why are they not good enough for the whole road patrol?

Augusta resident
1368
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Augusta resident 11/18/11 - 03:46 am
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Who cares what they wear or

Who cares what they wear or how much it cost? When you call 911 you ain't thinkin bout their pants.

Riverman1
81474
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Riverman1 11/18/11 - 06:01 am
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In regards to bclicious

In regards to bclicious comment, is it not possible to have clean streets and good government customer service without allowing crime to run rampant? They are mutually exclusive?

bclicious
642
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bclicious 11/18/11 - 03:33 pm
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Riverman, I think you might

Riverman,

I think you might misunderstand my comment. I was attempting to sumize all of the rants and raves over the past 6 weeks in relation to the Augusta city government as a whole.

In reference to your question, the answer is YES.

You can have your cake and eat it too, but get what you pay for.

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