Sheriff’s office asks for new deputy

Published 10:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2017

LaGRANGE – The Troup County Board of Commissioners is considering a request from the sheriff’s office to increase the number of deputies who patrol the county after discussion at its regular work session on Friday.

The sheriff’s department currently has 26 patrol deputies who work traffic throughout the entire county, but between the increased traffic from the Kia plant and the numerous new businesses planned for the area, Sheriff James Woodruff worries that his department – which has not added a new position in years – may soon be stretched too thin if the requested position is not added.

“As Great Wolf builds here, we are going to experience a whole lot of traffic – more than we are experiencing now coming into Troup County – and I firmly believe that we are going to be stretched more than we already are when we have to go and do these traffic details,” said Woodruff.

The Troup County Sheriff’s department and the Georgia State Patrol work together to patrol the 43 miles of interstate that runs through the county, and as the population and industry within the county has grown over the years, that section of interstate – as well as the rest of the county – has experienced a concerning number of accidents.

“Since tax time last year we had 1,159 accidents – that is a lot of wrecks. We wrote 8,000 citations – and those 1,159 accidents resulted in 841 injuries,” said Woodruff. “In 2015, we had 11 deaths. In 2016, we had 22, so the deaths doubled.”

The salary and benefits for a new deputy would cost the county $47,733.35 annually, and the sheriff’s office would also need to purchase equipment – including a patrol car – for the additional deputy that would total an estimated $57,881, though Woodruff did suggest that the county could save $19,825 of that cost by reusing an older tag reader from a retired patrol car.

“He could help this number of 1,159 accidents come down hopefully,” said Woodruff. “People are not going to speed when they see a deputy or a state trooper in the median, but when the state patrol is short, we’ve only got one (deputy) that we can spare to put out there.”

Local state troopers are currently understaffed by five of the recommended 16 troopers that would be needed to cover the area, and Woodruff emphasized that the county could not wait on that staffing to be filled to make the county safer for its residents, especially in areas known for habitual speeders.

“What’s the first thing you do when you see a policeman or patrol officer?” asked Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead. “Your foot comes off the accelerator, then you look at your speedometer. Well as many wrecks as we are having… if we could stop some of these wrecks (that would be good).”

The commissioners agreed that the safety concerns and financial cost of emergency vehicles going to accident sites made the request for a new deputy worth consideration, and they agreed to vote on whether to open up the position for applications at their regular meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.