DEAR EDITOR:

I want to address the article published 05/21/19 in MDJ: “Cobb to Consider One-time Bonus for Public Safety Personnel.”

I believe it’s of the utmost importance to bring to the public knowledge of Cobb citizens that Chairman Mike Boyce has proposed a $1,475 merit-based payment to be paid out to sworn Cobb County Police officers, Sheriff deputies and certified firefighter personnel. This plan comes on the heels of Chairman Boyce releasing his proposed FY20 Budget back in April that called for implementing a 3% pay raise for all county employees, and, additionally, a 2% raise for public safety (specifically police, fire and sheriff). The issue that I am running into with both of these proposals is that one of the most elemental and central forces in the span of Cobb County’s Public Safety Department is being overlooked, yet again.

As the literal “voice” of public safety, Cobb 911 is just as understaffed, underappreciated, and overworked as ever. Just since 2017, which is the last time we have seen a merit increase, our agency has seen higher turnovers, more resignations from individuals with 10-plus years of experience and an increased workload.

Our administrative and emergency call volume has definitely increased exponentially with the relocation of the Atlanta Braves’ home ballpark to our county. Essentially, while we do not work hands-on in the line of duty, patrolling streets and neighborhoods or serving our citizens in a physical capacity (like our brothers and sisters in blue or red), we are still very much on the front lines, too. But Chairman Boyce refuses to recognize us as important members of public safety in his plans to provide compensatory bonuses to other sworn or certified members as appreciation for their services to their community. This is disheartening.

I am a 911 dispatcher and I love my county, my citizens, my neighborhoods, but even I must admit that it is becoming increasingly hard to do what I do every day and not feel an ounce of appreciation from my own BoC. Is it not enough that “Public Safety Telecommunicators” are still federally classified as under “Administrative Occupation” rather than “Protective Service Occupation?” But no, as though this wasn’t exasperating enough, Chairman Mike Boyce doesn’t recognize us as a crucial part of the Cobb Public Safety family. I ask for his careful reconsideration in including 911 to receive the proposed bonuses he is offering to other public safety.

Samantha Hawkins

Austell

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