ATLANTA - There is a consensus among city leaders that Atlanta needs more officers on the streets, but Thursday, for the very first time, the police chief released the actual number of cops who patrol the neighborhoods and answer 911 calls. It is a number that may surprise many.
Those familiar with the Atlanta Police force have always heard one number: 2,000. That’s the authorized strength of officers, but Chief George Turner told the city council on Thursday that the number of officers actually available for patrols and answering 911 calls is closer to 1,400 for the entire city.
The city council said they were ready to offer him additional dollars--millions more--to hire more cops; but Turner said he needs to fill the current vacancies before more positions can be added.
Chief Turner told FOX 5 News that there are 2034 authorized positions, of which there are currently 21 vacancies. The current roster has 1,914 officers on it; but as previously stated, the patrol officers are closer to 1,400.
Turner said their aggressive goal to hire 300 officers this year was not going as well as they anticipated, but added that he will be getting 72 officers back in July once the Atlanta Public Schools creates their own policing agency. Most of those officers will go to Zone 2, 55 officers to be exact. The remaining 22 will be posted at the airport.
Still, the city council echoed the concerns of many of its residents that the population in the city is expanding and so should its police force.