Atlanta mayor announces pay raises for police

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a plan on Monday to raise the salaries of members of the city's law enforcement.

At a press conference Monday morning, the mayor announced that the City of Atlanta will be investing $10 million to increase the salaries of patrolling police and senior police officers of the Atlanta Police Department by July of 2019.

“Each day, the women and men of the Atlanta Police Department serve our communities selflessly – some making the ultimate sacrifice to keep our city safe,” Bottoms said in a statement. “It is time for the City of Atlanta to take care of those who take care of us, which is why our Administration will immediately get to work to provide Atlanta’s officers with the compensation they deserve.”

Earlier this year, officials worked with a third party to recommend changes to the pay of APD's police ranks. These new changes will reach the compensation benchmarks in that study.

The city is also going to reexamine salaries for public safety officers every two years "to ensure the Atlanta Police Department remains competitive," the statement said.

 “On behalf of Atlanta, I want to thank Chief Erika Shields for her steady leadership,” Bottoms said. “Our police are more than officers—they are public servants who protect our very way of life by upholding the rule of law.”

Atlanta Police Officer Miguel Lugo said many of his colleagues’ welcome news of a pay raise even one spread over the course of 3 years.

"You're going to notice a difference. There won't be as many officers leaving the city of Atlanta because now they can afford to stay and not stress about working two and three jobs to make ends meet," said Lugo, a 13-year member of APD.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and staff members broke down the numbers at an impromptu news conference Monday morning at City Hall. By January 2019, $10 million from the city's budget will be shifted towards officer compensation. Another $11 million goes into the pot in July 2019. Add another $11 million a year later and an additional $11 million in July 2021. Atlanta's CFO said those funds will come from sustainable cuts in other departments--a move applauded by APD Chief Erika shields.

Thank you for being willing to listen when we needed help," said Chief Shields during the morning press. "You have been committed to addressing this pay gap and we are grateful," said Shields, who's been chief since she was appointed by former Mayor Kasim Reed in 2016.

But there are skeptics of the timing of the mayor's announcement--including members of Concerned Citizens United. They have rallied the Mayor and City Hall to fund the police department instead funding an overhaul of the Gulch-'a multi-million dollar mixed use development project in the heart of downtown.

"The press conference was suspect. I think she did it because she's wanting the gulch vote to go through. This is something that could have been talked about many weeks ago and I question about how over the course of the three years we're still going to be able to sustain our current officers and recruit more," said Amber Connor, an active member of Concerned Citizens United who lives in Buckhead

Councilman at-large Michael Julian Bond takes issue with Connor's position.

"Public Safety is a part of our Charter. We have to fund Public Safety so whether The Gulch was built a hundred years ago or never gets built at all, this was a problem we were going to have to address," said Bond.