The Atlanta Police Department says it has filled 2000 officer positions, a goal both the department and city officials have held for more than a decade.
Police Chief George Turner and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made the announcement Friday at the police training academy on the city’s south side. Turner says the department reached its longtime goal in part by speeding up its online recruitment.
“It takes about 8,000 applicants a year to hire about 250 police officers. We have continued to hire the best and the brightest that’s been made available to our city,” Turner said.
Turner also says fewer officers are leaving the department. Attrition has notoriously been a problem for the department. Turner said attrition rate four years ago was between 10 and 12 percent. Now, he says, it’s down to 4 percent.
For that, Turner credited the department’s fundraising arm, the Atlanta Police Foundation, for helping officers pay for scholarships and cover housing costs. He also credited City Hall for passing two police budget increases during the recession that helped fund pay raises, while other departments took cuts.
“We have not been able to do this without the finances that were needed,” said Turner.
The department has been trying to reach the 2000 mark since the late 1990s.
As for what that means to the city, Turner says more officers should equal more safety.
“It directly relates to having more officers on the street, give us an opportunity to deal with those hot spots that we identify, putting those resources that have been made available by having more officers to put – put additional officers in those spaces,” Turner said.
APD says there are currently 1,800 sworn officers. Another 200 recruits are in various stages of training – some of which likely won’t graduate from the police academy until the end of next year.
Turner called for annual raises to help keep the force at 2000.