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

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

Click here to view a PDF explaining the costs of outfitting a Richmond County Class A officer

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