COBB COUNTY, Ga. — When Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens took office this year, he made it a priority to address the deputy shortage in the county.
Owens defeated longtime Sheriff Neil Warren in the November 2020 election.
For two years, Channel 2′s Chris Jose did numerous stories about inmate deaths at the jail, employee shortages and retention issues.
The Cobb Fraternal Order of Police told Jose in 2019 that staffing levels were so low, the jail was on lockdown and deputies and inmates were in danger.
Owens told Jose he hired 97 deputies in his first year as sheriff. Nine were sworn in on Monday.
“In fact, we have a waitlist to come work for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office,” Owens said. “By having these shortages (under Warren), they were working mandatory overtime. Working all of the holidays.”
Deputy Alex Juedes is one the new hires.
Jose met him on the shooting range to see him in action.
“That’s what I’ve done over the years. Just practice, practice, practice, practice,” Juedes said.
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Juedes, a Marine, nearly lost his life in 2014 serving in Afghanistan. Enemy fire struck his vehicle while he was helping a platoon on foot escape an attack.
“The second I looked up from watch, I got hit with a rocket-propelled grenade,” said Juedes. “It hit my machine gun, resulted in a traumatic amputation of my right-hand thumb, index and middle finger.”
Juedes also suffered a traumatic brain injury. He earned a Purple Heart for his bravery and sacrifice. In 2019, Juedes took a civilian job with the sheriff’s office.
“You have to have a mindset of I don’t care what other people think. I’m going to do what I want to do,” he said.
Juedes told Jose he approached Sheriff Owens with his desire to be a deputy.
“He told me, no one’s given me an opportunity, and I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘I don’t understand why. I’m a veteran,’” said Owens. “We got some ridicule from some people saying, ‘Why would you give someone with a disability an opportunity to work? I said, ‘He served his country well, risked his life for us.’ That’s the least we can do.”
The sheriff’s office currently has about 30 openings, said Cobb Maj. Marvin Prince.
“From Dec. 1 through the 16th, we have over 106 applicants,” said Prince.
Prince told Jose the sheriff’s office will look to add additional positions in 2022.
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