Local law enforcement protects and serves with low pay

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - According to Forbes World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes of 2014, Cristiano Ronaldo makes $80 million, Lebron James $72.3 million, Matt Ryan $43.8 million. While you may not be surprised by that, have you ever wondered what your local law enforcement officers make?

The Hattiesburg Police Department's starting salary is $35,000. A basic starting officer in Laurel makes a little more than $34,000. In Jones County, a recruit starts off at $29,000.

Compare that to the highest paid athlete and the difference is more than $79 million.

"We'll pay a baseball player a hundred thousand dollars to step up to the plate and swing the bat one time or more, and you're going to pay a law enforcement officer 30 thousand dollars a year to put his life on the line," said Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge. "I think it's a shame that we have that type of culture today in society."

The Jones County Sheriff's Department has lost 6 deputies within the last year to higher paid jobs.

"It's not that they want to get out of it, but they've got to do something else to provide for their families," said Jones County Chief of Operations Major Jamie Tedford. 

The department will soon lose another one of their men because of money.

"His heart is in law enforcement, he loves what he does, he loves this job," said Sheriff Hodge. 

"We sign up knowing what the pay is with the hopes that it's going to be different," said Major Tedford. 

A Jones County correctional officer, who works with criminals every day, start off at $23,000.

Video from the Jones County jail shows an officer getting into a physical altercation with an inmate. The reason, the inmate did not want to follow orders and change into his proper uniform. The incident happened August 3.

"How many of us would go up in there and amongst criminals with twenty of them inside of a cell put our life on the line and go up in there and get this one guy out," asked Major Tedford.

Within the last year, the department has lost at least 15 correctional officers.

"What do we value in law enforcement," asked Sheriff Hodge. "I can tell you if you look at it from that stand point people will realize that these guys are not paid enough." 

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