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New equipment, training for RCSO
RCSO-vest-fraying-Chief-Deputy-Scott-Freeman-6-5-13-IMG 9744
RCSO Chief Deputy Scott Freeman displays a fraying protection vest worn by a jail deputy. - photo by Michelle Kim

The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will be investing $50,000 in training and equipment for jail staff using funds saved from positions that were vacant until recently.

At Tuesday's Board of Commissioners work session, a request to transfer $50,000 from salaries to equipment and education in the RCSO was reviewed ahead of next week's BOC voting session. After the work session, Sheriff Eric Levett and Chief Deputy Scott Freeman explained that the funds would come from 17 positions that were vacant when they arrived in January. Sixteen jail staff were hired, but due to other resignations and terminations, there are still seven vacancies.

"It is not an increase... it was already budgeted for the Sheriff's office. We just moved it to prioritize for safety," said Freeman.

Of that $50,000, $30,000 will be used for uniforms and equipment and $20,000 for training.

Freeman explained that only $1,000 had been budgeted for training and education for 119 members of the jail staff and only $22,960 was budgeted for uniforms, of which about $8,000 remains.

While there are many training programs and courses for patrol law enforcement, training for jail staff often falls by the wayside, said Freeman. Jail staff will receive some in-house training such as defense tactics, but the funds will also allow staff enroll in courses to bone up on law and proper procedures. 

Among the many recommendations and findings of the Transition Team report was that the stab vests issued to jail staff were inadequate.

Freeman pulled out a protection vest that he said was just taken from a jail deputy. He displayed its fraying edges, duck tape, and separating layers.

"This vest is a complete failure," said Freeman. "This vest was expired eight months ago." According to best practices, a stab protection vest should be retired after four years and 6 months, he said.

RCSO deputies will also be receiving new guns, generation IV Glocks, with minimal cost due to a trade-in deal.

The RCSO will be trading in their current weapons, generation II and III Glock .40 caliber handguns, along with about 69 other weapons in the armory. In return, the cost to the RCSO for a new handguns for all deputies will be $392.

The demand for firearms is high, and Glock is backlogged in their weapons orders, said Freeman.