Atlanta police want more cash and more officers
The Atlanta Police Department is asking for $235 million to be included in next year’s budget to combat rising crime, hire new cops, and stave off the exodus of officers fleeing for better-paying jobs in the suburbs.
Here’s a peek at how they plan to spend it.
Driving the news: On Tuesday, Atlanta Police chief Rodney Bryant pitched his final budget to the Atlanta City Council.
- Like many police forces across the country, APD faces “significant” challenges retaining and recruiting officers and E-911 dispatchers.
Details: The upcoming fiscal year starts July 1, and APD’s ask is $4 million more than the previous budget. The department’s budget has risen by roughly $30 million over the past three years.
- 86% of the spending plan would go to personnel. As of March, the latest month for which statistics are available, the force has 1,616 sworn officers — well below the 2,000 that previous mayors and chiefs have tried to hire.
- The department is confident, however, that Mayor Andre Dickens’ goal of hiring 250 new officers is feasible.
APD plans to create a chief operating officer position to boost morale, address equipment shortages and help manage day-to-day operations.
- The position is part of an effort to "civilianize" some aspects of APD leadership, Bryant said — a break from the department's practice of shuffling majors to different divisions and then up the ranks.
The intrigue: The department’s proposed budget for E-911 is roughly $150,000 less than last year’s spending plan. That drop comes at a time when call volumes are up and staffing is down.
- The division can handle the decrease, APD brass said, thanks to increasing awareness about 311 and new technology that would route lower-priority calls to other departments.
What they're saying: Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders, a social justice organization based in Lakewood Heights, said other parts of the budget that could holistically improve public safety, like affordable housing, deserve more attention.
Follow along at #ATLBudget on Twitter and Instagram.
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