Metro police departments say they need more officers to keep crime down

ATLANTA — Police departments across metro Atlanta say that if we want to be able to fight crime, they are going to need more officers, and they are having a difficult time recruiting.

As violent crime increases in the area, many police departments are scrambling to find new ways to keep their officers during the pandemic.

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Over the weekend, gunmen were captured on camera committing armed robbery and shooting at a man at Lenox Square Mall, something residents say is an all to common occurrence.

“It happens so frequently now, I kid you not, I literally don’t go to the mall,” Misha Baylor told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden.

The challenge of recruiting officers isn’t exclusive to metro Atlanta. Departments across the country are feeling the pressure.

“Well after a summer of ‘defund the police,’ it’s difficult now to get willing participants that want to be the police,” former Atlanta police detective Tyrone Dennis said.

Dennis is speaking from personal experience as a highly respected and decorated detective with 16 years on the APD force before retiring last Fall.

Since then Dennis has begun living and working in his hometown of St. Louis where he is designing and implementing a security and safety plan for a local school district, a decision he says has made his life much more calm.

“Less stress. I’m home by 4 and 5 and able to eat dinner with my family . No more overnight calls . I’m not kicking in doors and my wife isn’t afraid of my safety,” Dennis told Seiden.

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The Police Executive Search Firm conducted a nationwide survey that found that small departments saw an increase while large departments with more than 500 officers saw dramatic decreases.

The survey also showed that resignations were up 18% and every department that participated in the survey saw up to a 45% increase in retirements.

Governor Brian Kemp announced on Monday that all Georgia first responders, including police officers and sheriff’s deputies, would be getting a $1,000 bonus in an effort to show his support.

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Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat says that the days of asking someone to put their lives on the line at work for $50,000 or $60,000 are in the past.

Seiden found nearly 450 officer vacancies in the metro Atlanta area, 389 of which are in the city of Atlanta. The starting pay for rookie officers in those positions ranges from $46,000 to $53,000 depending on the department.

Several departments are also offering benefits like take home vehicles, housing and tuition reimbursement.