Originally created 09/30/05

Counties expect to pay part of police assistance

Although officials say state and local governments will reimburse certain costs involved with sending deputies from Columbia and Richmond counties to Mississippi, both counties initially will have to fork out some money for labor costs.

Richmond and Columbia counties sent at least 25 deputies down to Jackson County, Miss., to help law enforcement in a county stricken by the fury of Hurricane Katrina.

They joined other law enforcement agencies from across Georgia and the nation to help the county, located on the Gulf Coast at the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris and Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said each county probably will incur at least $25,000 in manpower costs, mainly to include overtime. Both counties' figures are speculative, the lawmen said.

Gas, lodging and meals were paid for by Jackson County, Capt. Morris said.

He said agencies expect that either the Mississippi or federal emergency management agencies will reimburse the counties.

Capt. Morris said his agency received about $7,000 in cash donations from local groups and also had supplies sent at no cost from Wesley United Methodist Church and St. Joseph Hospital.

Sheriff Strength said the experience deputies gain in Mississippi is valuable.

"Not just for us, but for any agency that went in there to assist, it definitely was valuable to them," he said.

The deputies have been performing different duties, from Richmond County Sgt. Scott Gay's serving as second-in-command at the county's incident response command center, to deputies' patrolling the streets.

Deputies have been given the power under emergency law to make arrests and write traffic citations in Mississippi.

There are plans to rotate shifts of deputies in and out of the disaster zone. Officials said they hoped to be finished in Mississippi by Oct. 14.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.

BACKGROUND: Columbia and Richmond County sheriff's deputies left Sept. 16 to help police in Jackson County, Miss., deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The COSTS: Officials say each county probably will spend, at a rough estimate, $25,000 for manpower, but they expect either the Mississippi or Federal emergency management agencies to pick up the cost.

Deputies are expected to rotate in and out of the zone through Oct. 14.


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