The department’s regular advertisement states that certified officers and candidates with no previous law enforcement experience are welcome to apply.
If you can cut it, the pay is pretty good, especially for a job that doesn’t require a college degree. You’ll start at $38,355 and get bumped up to $40,185 after 18 months on the job.
Applicants are required to be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. You can’t have any felony convictions on your record, but you can have up to two misdemeanors for charges such as theft or simple battery. A sex crime, a misdemeanor that shows “disrespect for law enforcement” or public order will get you scratched from the pool of applicants. Likewise for any domestic violence or crimes against children.
Police retirement benefits are also much better than most private-sector jobs would offer.
You’ll find Cobb police recruiters at local job fairs and on military bases. They post their ads in the Marietta Daily Journal, on TV 23, even on Facebook.
Yet, the Cobb Police Department still is having difficulty finding recruits.
Making a push to fill gaps
“We are experiencing a shortage, and we have a big push on right now to get a bunch of positions filled,” said Kathleen Daniel, manager of human resources for the county.
The department is seeking to fill spots vacated by retirements or other departures, said Sgt. Victor Verola, a 19-year veteran who heads up the department’s hiring and recruitment efforts.
“I don’t know if it’s the pay because I don’t know if people necessarily go for jobs because of the pay,” Verola said. “I’m not sure why we don’t get more and better applicants. I just don’t think a lot of the qualified people are coming our way. I find a lot of the younger people today are looking for other jobs, in other professions, that maybe require more education.”
Graduating the academy
Before the department can hire a new recruit, he or she must graduate from the Cobb police academy. That involves a rigorous physical fitness test, shooting skills tests and classroom studies. There is also a pre-placement medical exam, drug screening, polygraph test, oral interviews and a comprehensive background investigation.
Right now, the Cobb County police force should be at 608 officers if it were fully staffed, “but we have 40 openings right now, so we’re down,” Verola said.
The 608-officer capacity hasn’t changed much over the past five years, Verola said, even as the city has seen moderate growth in population over that time.
“We haven’t increased our number in some time,” he said.
That’s why the next two police academies are seen as critical.
The first opens on July 1 and will last for 23 weeks, or just shy of five months. Another academy will commence in early January.
Verola said the department’s goal is to graduate 30 recruits in the July academy, then another 40 in January’s academy.
He encourages men and women of all ages who are interested in a career in law enforcement to apply for a spot in the academy.
“We’re trying to do our best to seek ambitious men and women who are looking to have a career in law enforcement and are not just looking for a job,” he said. “I want to hire people who want to retire from Cobb County Police Department.”
But he concedes that the physical fitness portion of the academy can be strenuous on people older than 50 years of age. There have been exceptions, though.
“We’ve had people in their early 60s. We had one guy who came in at 61 and graduated academy at maybe 62, but let’s just say he’s a well-fit man. Still is,” Verola said. “Usually, people 50 and above have difficulty making it, and by 60 they don’t typically pass our fitness test.”
Verola also encourages women to apply.
“Women are extremely detail-oriented, and they do extremely well investigating crimes against children and sexual offenses,” he said. “We just try to do the recruitment and convince people it’s a good career.”