The chief financial officer is authorized to amend the fiscal 2019 general fund budget in an amount not to exceed $2.47 million and redirect efficiency savings related to personnel vacancies within the Atlanta Police Department’s general fund and aviation revenue fund in the amount not to exceed $7.53 million for a total of $10 million to fund the salary adjustments.
“I am deeply moved emotionally, having worked for years to bring our officer’s salaries up to a standard that will allow them to make being a member of the Atlanta Police Department a career not just a short time opportunity,” Post 1 at-large Councilman Michael Julian Bond, the sponsor of the legislation authorizing the transfer of funds, said in a news release. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and diligence, working with the administration, the officers and other members of council.
“Members of the council recognize that Atlanta police officers not only deserve adequate compensation, but this is cementing what we have always said about them. They are one of the finest police agencies in the country. The officers are trained in one of the best police academies in the world and they should be compensated appropriately. The people of Atlanta have demanded it and the council and mayor have responded.”
Public safety committee chair Dustin Hillis said today’s vote to approve the initial contingent of $10 million in raises for Atlanta’s police officers is an historic and impactful one.
“I could not be more thankful and proud of the hard work of my colleagues and Mayor Bottoms and her administration in ensuring that this top priority was executed,” he said in a news release. “The initial raise will rightly address our ranks that need help the most – our police officers and senior police officers.
“This monumental raise, along with the subsequent raises, will put our police department in a much more competitive position when it comes to retaining experienced officers and attracting new, qualified recruits to fill our 300-plus current vacancies. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the leadership of Chief (Erika) Shields and her team, especially the many officers who kept their heart and skills in our city and ‘stuck it out’ until this was addressed. I also thank the Atlanta Police Foundation for their dedication to continually improving our police department and improving public safety, as the Mercer study they funded was key in these efforts.”
The increase — 30 percent over the next three years — will make officer wages much more competitive with other agencies in the region and in similarly sized urban cities nationwide.
The ordinance was co-sponsored by Hillis and council members Howard Shook, Carla Smith, Ivory Lee Young, Jr., Cleta Winslow, Andrea Boone, Marci Collier Overstreet, Joyce M. Sheperd, Amir R. Farohki, Dustin Hillis, Natalyn Mosby Archibong, J.P. Matzigkeit, Andre Dickens, Jennifer N. Ide and Matt Westmoreland.
The pay adjustments come after a study by Mercer, a global consulting firm that specializes in compensation review, found that the Atlanta Police’s pay plan ranges, by position, are consistently at the lower end of the peer group for most police ranks. Additionally, they are generally narrower than those of the peer agencies.
o Pay ranges for recruits through lieutenant ranks are 20 percent or more below the market ranges.
o Pay for higher ranks (captain and above) is slightly more aligned to peer pay than lower ranks (captain and below) but still lag the market.
o The number of years in-rank for Atlanta officers to advance to the maximum of the pay range is greater than most peers, despite the Atlanta officer pay plan maximum being the lowest in the sample.
o The number of years in-rank for Atlanta’s senior police officers, investigators, sergeants and lieutenants to advance to the maximum of their respective pay plan are less than most peers, but pay maximums for these Atlanta ranks are still the lowest in the sample of other peer agencies.
The study compared the pay maximums to agencies such as the Georgia State Patrol and departments in Nashville, Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, Baltimore, Tampa, Seattle and Boston.