HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — This week, the Alabama Sheriffs Association (ASA) is hosting its Winter Technology Conference in Huntsville.
Sheriffs from all 67 counties in the state were invited to participate.
Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said the conference is a great learning opportunity.
“It’s a great way for us to learn something new to take back to our departments and make our departments better,” he said.
More than 50 vendors are on-site to showcase the latest technology, tools, and gear available to law enforcement.
Turner said his favorite part of ASA conferences is the opportunity to network and learn from Sheriffs from other counties in the state.
“You know, each county is dealing with something different,” he said. “We all bring our ideas together and we talk about what we’re dealing with.
During the conference, Alabama Sheriffs Association President for 2022, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones handed duties over to Franklin County Sheriff, Shannon Oliver for 2023.
Jones told News 19 that the recruitment and retention of deputies and corrections officers is high on the priority list for sheriff’s offices across the state.
“Recruiting is definitely a challenge in this day and time,” he said. “It is getting tougher and tougher to find men and women that are willing to participate in a calling, not a job.”
Jones said it is important to keep standards for new hires high.
“We’re not going to lower our bar, we’re not going to reduce the standards that our people expect us to present in a professional manner,” he said.
Jones said pay raises are also highly requested.
“A lot of sheriffs around the state are working with their county commissions, county commissions are assisting their sheriffs trying to get the pay up for our deputy sheriffs and for our corrections officers too,” he said
Another topic on the minds of many of the sheriffs attending the conference is making up for the loss in pistol permit funding.
While revenue is down, earlier in February, Governor Kay Ivey announced grants that will be released quarterly to help compensate for some of the loss in funding.
Either way, Turner said it will be an adjustment, having to work with a potentially smaller budget.
“I do need to think that we need to fix it,” he said. “Pistol permits is a fund that we were using to buy equipment with, buy vehicles, buy vests and things to better our department, so it is definitely something that we will have to entertain and to really find an answer for in the future.”