Clarkston Police Department losing officers over pay concern

The Clarkston City Council did not discuss police salaries in their monthly meeting Tuesday night, something the chief says is causing many officers to leave. 

This comes as the department could be down to just nine officers in the coming months. 

Clarkston Police Chief Christine Hudson says there’s only 15 active officers when they should 21. She says even more have applications elsewhere.

City Council member Jamie Carroll wanted to add the issue of police pay to Tuesday night’s city council agenda but her motion failed.

This comes after an anonymous employee recently reached out to council members about the department’s staffing.

"It was disappointing, but I have given them some paperwork with raises on it and potential 8 percent so it's very possible that they're reviewing that at this point in time," Chief Hudson said. 

Chief Hudson said they’ve lost six officers in the last several months and six others have applied elsewhere. It all comes down to pay. The starting salary for Clarkston police offices is $46,000 while some surrounding agencies are at $55,000.

"I worry every night when I go to sleep. I pray for these guys. Now, we're down to two officers per shift. You get one that gets an arrest, they're down at the DeKalb County Jail, that takes up probably an hour or so, then they're out here by themselves. We do have a good working relationship with DeKalb County [Police Department]. They come and help us we help them as well," Chief Hudson said. 

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The Clarkston City Council avoided the discussion of a pay raise for police officer despite an attrition of officers leaving to higher-paying departments. (FOX 5)

While the issue was not directly discussed at the council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Beverly Burks did thank the city's employees for their work including police. 

"As leadership we will always make sure in doing those things that are important for our community, and it doesn't mean by just today that we're not. We will, and we continue to do," Burks said. 

Chief Hudson hopes a solution can be found, so the department can hire certified officers. 

"They're training is only about four weeks long compared to several months. We're all fighting in the same fishing pond, and we're all fishing in the same fishing pond for the same people, and it's hard when you've got other agencies, and we're in north metro that have higher starting salaries than we do," Chief Hudson said. 

The next city council meeting where this could be discussed will be held on July 6.