For nearly a decade, Atlanta leaders have talked about having 2,000 officers on the city’s police force. They’ve shot blanks so far, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. City Council members and police officials are again talking about the need for more officers to combat the city’s rising crime rate this year. The police department is budgeted to have 1,783 officers, but it is struggling to reach that number. Police Chief Richard Pennington says the department will need 2,500 officers by 2012, if the city’s population continues to increase. Between 2000 and 2006, Atlanta’s population has risen by 17 percent, from 416,474 to 486,411.
The police department is recruiting from other cities, but islosing as many officers through retirement or to other organizations as have been hired. The department held a job fair this past weekend. The city approved a 5.5 percent raise for police this year, but some officers and city leaders say it isn’t enough. Atlanta ranked 85th among the nation’s 200 largest police departments in officer pay, according to the PolicePay index, done by an organization that bases the list on factors such as salary, expenses, vacation, and pension.