Atlanta police union alarms city with police life expectancy stats

The life expectancy of a police officer is only 66 years, according to the Atlanta police union. The organization is asking the mayor and city council to address that disturbing statistic by improving pension benefits for officers. The union also believes better benefits will help the city reach its desired level of over 2,000 officers. 

The reality that an officer's life expectancy is only 66 years old is frightening. The police union says a competitive wage is important, but pension benefits can also help to recruit and retain officers. 

"No one calls the police because they are having a good day. No one calls to tell us they got engaged," Atlanta Police Investigator Keleon Boatlay explained to Atlanta City Council members during a budget hearing last week. 

When the men and women in blue respond, it is usually a dire emergency involving violence or even death. The Atlanta Police Union used an FBI statistic to drive home their plight. 

"The average citizen encounters two to three traumatic incidents throughout their lifetime, as an officer we encounter 178 throughout our entire career," the investigator commented. 

Vince Champion, Southeast IBPO Director, says that job-related stress can take its toll on officers. Union representatives pointed out that two officers died earlier this year. 

"You go from zero to sixty in two seconds or even a hundred. You go from doing nothing to just some of the worst things in the world. You have to make those decisions and that's from one call to another," Champion explained. 

The union is asking the mayor and council to reduce the number of years of service for full retirement to less than 30 years. 

"The National Institute of Health organization says police officers' life expectancy is 66 years," Investigator Boatley detailed. 

For recruits joining the academy in their late 20s or early 30s, facing only a short retirement after a full career can seem discouraging. 

"They have about five years to enjoy retirement after giving most of their life to the city. Serving 30 years for the city is way too much," said Champion. 

The union says they have more "hope" this year than usual because they say the Dickens administration has an open line of communication with them and for the first time, they feel like they are being heard.