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This is the third part of a four part series looking at diversity in the SunLight Project coverage area of Dalton, Milledgeville, Moultrie, Tifton, Thomasville, Valdosta, Ga., and Live Oak, Fla.

VALDOSTA Law enforcement agencies should look like the communities they serve, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress said.

Childress said law enforcement agencies across the nation have problems recruiting minorities and women. He stressed that agencies must look at city or county workforce demographics and compare the police force with the workforce.

Valdosta faces the same challenges as law enforcement agencies throughout the SunLight Project area Tifton, Dalton, Milledgeville, Moultrie, Thomasville, and Valdosta, Ga., and Live Oak, Fla.

The majority of law enforcement agencies interviewed by the SunLight Project team said they see a lack of diversity as a detriment and are taking steps to actively recruit and retain a more diverse workforce.

The NumbersLowndes County Sheriff’s Office has 227 employees; 149 are white, 75 are black and one is Hispanic/Latino.

While the sheriff is white, two of the six captains are black and four are white. None are female.

Of the 227 LCSO employees, 67 are female.

The Valdosta Police Department has a total of 149 sworn officers; 117 are white, 27 are black and five are Hispanic/Latino. Of the non sworn officers, 22 are white and 19 are black. Non sworn officers or non mandated employees do not take an oath and have limited to no legal powers.

There are seven minorities with supervisor positions, including one deputy chief.

VPD has 27 sworn female officers and 30 non sworn officers. There are nine females with supervisor positions, including three deputy chiefs.

The Tifton Police Department has a total of 49 employees, five are black and three are Hispanic/Latino.

There are 13 total leadership positions, two are held by black officers.

The Whitfield Sheriff’s Office has a total of 60 mandated employees; 57 are white, one is black and two are Hispanic/Latino. Two are female.

There are 32 mandated white supervisors and two mandated Hispanic/Latino supervisors. There are also five non mandated white supervisors. There are seven total females in supervisor positions at WCSO.

At the Whitfield County Correctional Center, there are 27 white employees, one black and four Hispanic/Latino.

Five of the employees are female.

Currently, patrol officer ranks are 49 percent black, 49 percent white and 2 percent Latino/Hispanic officers.

Police Chief Sean Ladson is white. Assistant Police Chief Tonero Bender is black. Chief Emeritus Frank Lang, whose office is involved in a community policing initiative and who served as department chief for 14 years previously, is black.

Among upper management in road patrol positions, there are two black and two white corporals; two white sergeants and one black; one each white and Hispanic first sergeants; two white and two black lieutenants.

In senior office administration, there is one each white, black, and Hispanic officers.

Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office has a total of 53 sworn officers with arrest powers. Seven are black and three are Hispanic/Latino.
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