COBB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Not enough money and not enough people. Some residents in Cobb County say public safety employees are leaving and taking jobs at other agencies for better pay and benefits. Some say it's to the point where it's dangerous.
Supporters of better pay for public safety employees packed the Cobb County Commission meeting Tuesday night. Some wore t-shirts and others carried signs stating their position. They urged County Commissioners to increase the pay for those who protect residents in the county.
"We have a crisis in Cobb County with all the officers leaving. Their sheriff's office, Cobb Police, [Cobb] Fire, we're having a mass exodus," said Kim Peace Hill who was at the meeting to support the employees.
The President of the Fraternal Order of Police in Cobb County, Steve Gaynor, says the county doesn't offer enough money to recruit or retain officers. He says four employees have left to take jobs in Brookhaven where the starting salary is $48,500 versus the $40,000 starting salary for an officer in Cobb County.
"We can't retain officers that way and we have nothing to offer to new recruits," said Gaynor.
Gaynor said the situation is dire. He said overnight there was a situation in the southern part of the county where an officer was attacked.
"There was no back-up, there wasn't enough police to set up a perimeter. The officer's life was in danger because of these commissioners," said Gaynor.
At Tuesday night's meeting, a number of people stood up and spoke to commissioners, urging them to "Fix it now". Some of the Commissioners said they appreciated everyone being there and to continue to make their voices heard.
Commission Chairman Mike Boyce has proposed a 3 percent increase in salaries for all county employees. He told Tuesday night's crowd "You have to trust the board. We hear you. There are a lot of moving pieces. Public Safety is a top priority, but it's not the only priority."
Gaynor said he'd like to see an increase more along the lines of 10 percent to 15 percent plus better benefits and pension.
County officials say they are down about 80 officers, but there are currently around 20 going through the academy.