Concern growing over number of officers leaving APD

ATLANTA — Officer Joe Layman said he left the Atlanta Police Department in June to join the Aurora Police Department, where he said he can earn a 50 percent higher salary working in Colorado in a similar position.

Layman, who has 10 years of experience, said his salary of $44,000 at APD is one of the reasons he left.

“It is morale, it is pay, it is treatment … the top brass is disconnected because the top brass is getting their paycheck,” Layman told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman

According to numbers provided by APD, since 2010 the number of police officers’ resigning is on the rise.

So far this year, 105 officers resigned, including recruits. In all of 2014, 106 resigned. In 2011, resignations were at a five-year low at just 50 officers.

“From a numerical standpoint it has increased; however, our authorized strength, our overall number of officers we are authorized to hire has increased,” said APD Deputy Chief Erika Shields.

Police union President Ken Allen said the high turnover rate is a public safety concern. He puts the blame in part on Mayor Kasim Reed’s refusal to raise pay for offices because of an ongoing lawsuit.

“We are losing the training and experience to other police departments,” Ken Allen told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.

“The officers are tired… they don’t feel like they are being treated right, they don’t feel like they have any kind of advancement for their families,” Allen said.

Deputy Chief Shields said that recruitment took a hit last year. Last year at the end of August, APD hired 77 (2014), and this year at the end of August, APD hired 139 (2015).

“I think law enforcement as a whole has really taken a hit over the last 14 months …it’s a hard profession to sell,” said Shields, adding that competition from other departments has increased because the economy is on the rebound.

Reed contends the numbers are on track with nationwide trends. The mayor’s spokesman submitted this statement to Channel 2 Action News:

“Mayor Kasim Reed has invested more in public safety than any other Administration in Atlanta’s history and is the first Mayor to grow the force to 2,000 officers.

“Since 2010, he has given public workers a total of nine pay increases, with public safety officers receiving 5% in total pay raises during this time. Crime is at historic, 40-year lows, with major crimes down by 25%.

“Under Mayor Reed’s leadership, APD maintains the largest force in the City’s history with close to 1,900 officers. Because of these investments, APD is stronger than ever before.

“To put it plainly, concerns around attrition rates are overblown and are not supported by the facts. APD’s attrition rates compare favorably to any other period in the last ten years. APD hires at a fast rate; accordingly, higher turnover rates are normal. This level of turnover is common among larger cities with similar-sized police departments.

“Our issues remain with union leadership who refuse to drop their appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court, even after losing their first case. These same union leaders initially agreed to pension reform, and then went back on their word, and millions of taxpayer dollars are at risk. These same union leaders said nothing when they received pay raises, but other public workers did not.

“Pension reform was critical to stabilizing the City’s finances, and enabled Mayor Reed to make these historic investments in public safety. Unraveling pension reform would be disastrous for the City, and we cannot commit to a liability that could cost the City tens of millions of dollars.

“Mayor Reed has consistently maintained that he is ready and willing to come to the bargaining table if the unions drop their lawsuit. Until that time, he will continue to support the rank and file officers who keep Atlanta safe.”

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/concern-growing-over-number-officers-leaving-apd/nnccH/