FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Fulton County Marshals are pushing for better pay after they say they’ve been plagued by staffing shortages and an inability to hire anyone.
The Department claims that means more wanted criminals are out on the streets.
Lieutenant Mekeal Hadley explains the reason is because they’ve had move deputy marshals away from their Warrant Division.
"We have a Warrant Division that we're currently not able to work because we don't have the adequate amount of staff… those that are assigned to the Warrant Division are currently working evictions," she said.
Lt. Hadley says they’re so overloaded with evictions with their staffing shortages that most days none of them are serving arrest warrants.
"Your neighbor could be wanted and we can't come out to arrest that individual because we're out doing the evictions," she said.
The Fulton County Marshals Department says it’s down about 10 officers right now.
But the department was already stretched thin before the vacancies. And now they can’t fill these vacancies.
"People are just not applying to come to work with the Marshals Department because of the salaries," said Major Deidre Orange.
"I believe we are the lowest paid law enforcement agency within the metro area. And I'm just speaking within the I-285 perimeter… I'll just use one agency in particular, DeKalb County, which is right next door to Fulton, as an example. Their Marshals Department starts off at $72,000 a year, where in comparison to our department, which is $50,000 a year starting, that is extremely difficult for us to compete with," said Capt. Quintin Hill.
Deputy Marshals went on to explain because of the staffing shortages they’re having to work more hours, but they don’t get paid overtime.
Rather they are given comp time or paid time off to be used in the future in lieu of paying them overtime.
"However, the caveat to it is that we're so short that leave is often denied due to the shortage," Capt. Hill said.
Marshals also described how many of them are having to work second and even third jobs to make ends meet.
That’s why they’re petitioning Fulton County Commissioners for raises.
But they're competing with a lot of different budget priorities.
"I hope and pray that they heard our concerns," Lt. Hadley said.
We reached out to several Fulton County Commissioners about this but none were available for interviews Friday.
But Commissioner Dana Barrett did send us this statement:
"Law enforcement agencies around the country are struggling to recruit officers, so the issue goes far beyond Fulton County. That said, our Marshals should not have to work a second job to make ends meet. I support pay raises for the Fulton County Marshals among other increases to improve public safety and the efficiency of our justice system. But, unless my colleagues are either willing to make significant cuts in other areas or raise the millage rate back to the level it was at several years ago it will be difficult to make that happen."