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Morgan County Jail looking to increase officers' pay

The Morgan County Jail proposed on Tuesday a new budget that would cut positions at the jail to increase wage pay.

Posted: Aug 29, 2019 5:39 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2019 6:40 PM

The Morgan County sheriff wants to boost pay for correctional officers. 

WAAY 31 went to a law enforcement agility and ability physical examination and spoke with some correctional officers with hopes of advancing to the next level of law enforcement and going to the police academy.

Some of the officers discussed the camaraderie at the exam on Thursday and how it's an exciting group of people to be a part of.

"You hear a lot of cheering going on. When one man started to weaken, the next man was there to pick him up and carry him on," said  Brandon Overton, a correctional officer at the jail.

Amanda Berzette is also a correctional officer and told WAAY 31, "Law enforcement is in my blood. My grandfather did it for 30 years and first, it just happened, but once I started...I grew to love it."

Right now, the Morgan County Jail is behind other counties in pay. Officers at the jail currently have a wage starting at $11.56 an hour. In comparison to Madison County, the starting pay there is $15 an hour.

Sheriff Ron Puckett said he proposed giving up seven positions in the jail, so he can increase the pay for his 118 correctional officers.

“Hopefully, we can attract more candidates, and really, what we try to do is keep them here longer. We have a real high turnover rate," said Sheriff Puckett.

He is hoping that the approved budget by the county will help his officers with a new starting pay of $13 an hour. 

The testing that is a part of the physical examination includes push-ups, sit-ups and pushing a patrol car 15 feet in neutral. Officers then go through a window, balance on a beam and pull a 165 pound dummy. They top it off with a mile and a half run.

"This is something I've always wanted to do. I've wanted to be a part of that big brotherhood and get out there and serve and protect the citizens of Morgan County," said Overton.

Five out of the six officers successfully completed the exam on Thursday, but the sheriff’s office will only send two to the law enforcement academy.

If all of them went, there wouldn't be enough positions filled at the jail. If the correctional officer raise is approved, it would go into effect in October.

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