Sankey: County needs black deputies

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sheriff Mickey Powell’s efforts to hire additional deputies gained support from Commission Chairman Charlie Sankey, but it came with a caveat.

“We need black deputies,” Sankey said.

The sheriff’s office currently has no African American deputies. Sankey said it was important for residents to occasionally see someone of the same color. He also suggested the department demographics should reflect those of the county.

Email newsletter signup

Powell heard similar arguments while on the campaign trail and said he was more than willing to make good on a campaign promise.

“I would love to have two minority officers right now. I wish I had some good applicants, really do,” he said. “Nobody is certified.”

Powell said certification has become the biggest obstacle in hiring. Before deputies can work, they have to pass minimum standards training. The training involves months of coursework and passing a physical fitness test.

Powell likes to test physical fitness before sending applicants to training.

“The biggest problem is you have to pay for the academy and they’re basically gone three months at least. They’re gone and you’re not able to use them,” Powell said.

Once certified, deputies spend their first few weeks riding with someone for about an additional month of training.

“We’re talking close to four months you’re paying somebody and not really able to use them,” he said.

New deputies are offered two-year contracts. Many do not make it past the initial two months, taking their certification, training and experience to larger departments.

Powell said he would continue to search for deputies, especially minority ones, and work with the budget provided.

Sankey agreed to Powell’s request for additional funding to have qualified minority applicants certified.

Powell said he hoped funds from the new public safety tax would also assist in certification and training expenses.