ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The Atlanta Police Department has more than 400 vacant positions, but police departments from out of the state are trying to recruit officers from Georgia—offering better benefits and a bigger paycheck.
Billboards around town are advertising for the Seattle Police Department. The billboards promote higher starting salaries and incentives for both new officers and current officers looking to transfer.
FOX 5 News spoke with the union for police officers, and the executive director said this is not a new tactic.
“It doesn’t really surprise us,” said Vincent Champion. “There are a lot of departments in bad shape right now trying to recruit police officers.”
Champion said out-of-state recruiting is a positive sign that Georgia still has great potential to fill APD’s vacancies.
“What it really means to us is we've got pretty good officers out here if they want to come and get them,” said Champion.
Atlanta Police Department officers we’re recently promised a 3 percent pay raise by Mayor Bottoms, and APD Chief Erika Shields mentioned in a town hall meeting on Thursday that the raise has already impacted the force.
“We are well aware that we are below, well below, the market rate for comparable cities,” said Shields. “With the pay increase, what are we seeing? Immediately what we're seeing is morale is better and it is playing out into how people are doing their jobs.”
APD also noted that this year, recruiting has been much better than in 2018.
APD released this statement in response to the Seattle Police Department recruitment campaign:
“For example, in all of 2018, we had 11 former Atlanta Police officers re-apply to come back to work for APD. In 2019, we have already had 16 former APD officers re-apply to be re-hired. We are currently working to revamp our lateral pay scale to ensure that any officers who join us from other agencies are also paid competitively. We are definitely aware that other agencies are now working to stay competitive with us, so we have to step up our game. Just like Seattle is recruiting in our backyard, we are planning on doing the same with recruitment fairs aimed later this year for New York and Florida. We’ve had good success in past years expanding our searches for new recruits beyond Georgia.”
The police officers’ union does believe these out of state campaigns can take away top talent, but Champion says he is not overly concerned. He believes the city is committed to keeping APD’s wages and benefits competitive in order to keep the citizens of Atlanta safe.