Cobb Police, Fire and EMS urging county leaders to increase pay, benefits

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Some in Cobb County are calling it an emergency.  They say Police, Fire and EMS are so understaffed it's reaching dangerous levels.  Public Safety employees and many in the community who support them packed a County Commission meeting Tuesday night to urge county leaders to do something to fix the problem. 

"We lost 13 more police officers in 28 days," said Steve Graynor, President of the Cobb Fraternal Order of Police. 

Graynor says officers are going to continue to leave unless the county offers better pay and benefits. Chairman Mike Boyce released his proposed budget for 2020. It gives Police and Fire a 5 percent raise.

"They want to give us 5 percent, we're 21 percent below everybody else," said Graynor. 

President of Cobb Professional firefighters say fire is also understaffed by about 60 people.  

"It's hazardous to the firefighters and hazardous to the citizens, said John Brady.

Supports say the same goes for EMS and deputies. 

"Deputies in the jail are horribly understaffed, and they're surrounded by every criminal imaginable," said Kim Peace-Hill who was at the meeting to show her support for public safety employees.

Chairman Mike Boyce says they're listening and they're working to make changes, but they have to consider the entire county. 

"We're sensitive to the issue but it has to be part of the bigger picture here. There are 760,000 people in the county, everyone thinks their issue is the most important and we have to find a way to balance this out," said Boyce.

At Tuesday night's meeting, Commissioners also appointed a new Public Safety Director. Mike Register who has served as Cobb's Police Chief since 2017 replaces Sam Heaton who retired. 

Graynor thinks that's a move in the right direction. 

"I think he's in line with what we want done and he's going to fight for us just as hard as we're fighting," said Graynor.