Heaton to ask Cobb County BoC for 40 new police officers
by Jon Gillooly
February 21, 2014 04:00 AM | 4639 views | 15 15 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sam Heaton
Sam Heaton
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MARIETTA — Cobb Public Safety Director Sam Heaton will ask the Board of Commissioners to add 40 additional police officer positions to the 609 already authorized Tuesday.

The start-up cost for 40 officers in the first year of employment is $3.3 million.

After that, the annual cost is $2.7 million.

Start-up costs do not include a police car, but do include a gun, uniform, vest and radio, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.

Cobb’s previous public safety director, Jack Forsythe, resigned in a scathing Jan. 6 letter where he accused County Manager David Hankerson of blocking efforts to help a police force Forsythe said lacks the resources to keep the public safe.

When commissioners appointed Heaton as Forsythe’s successor, they tasked him with bringing forward a plan that addressed Forsythe’s concerns.

The 40 new police positions is part of that plan, county Chairman Tim Lee said.

The new positions will allow Cobb Police Chief John Houser to move closer to his goal of having officers on a 10-hour schedule.

About a year ago, Houser conducted a pilot program where officers in one of Cobb’s five police precincts went from working five, eight-hour days a week to four, 10-hour days.

Houser found that new schedule cut down on overtime while placing more police on the streets, Lee said.

The 40 additional officers will allow three of Cobb’s five police precincts to switch to Houser’s preferred schedule.

It will take another 40 officers after that, bringing the force to 689, before all five precincts are on the new schedule.

Lee expects the second batch of 40 officers to be hired in 2015 or 2016.

“We have to get personnel through training and we can only do so many so fast,” Lee said.

Lee said those 80 additional police officers are not part of the security plan with the new Atlanta Braves stadium coming online in 2017.

“We’re nowhere near to knowing what any additional impact the Braves will have on us,” Lee said.

But since the stadium and entertainment district won’t open until 2017, there is plenty of time to figure that out, he said.

“It’s just like any other development that occurs in Cobb County,” he said. “If we have property that is vacant and gets developed, we have to assess whether or not we have to add additional resources to it, that’s what the county does.”

Lee said there was a “high probability” that a new police precinct would be built by the new stadium.

Heaton announced his plan to request the 40 additional police officers in an email to commissioners and police officers on Thursday. He also said 37 patrol cars — Ford Interceptors — have been ordered and are scheduled to arrive in March for a cost of $875,844.

Another eight Ford Interceptor patrol cars have been approved for fiscal 2014 at a cost of $189,371 along with 22 unmarked detective cars for a cost of $521,146, Quigley said.

In addition, the county will conduct a pay and compensation study this year to determine whether county staff are paid competitively. Heaton said he was also working to supply all officers with patrol rifles.

Lee called it a step in the right direction.

“It’s important for us to do what we need to do internally to make sure the police officers are working at top efficiency and effectiveness and feel that they’re being appreciated and getting a fair dollar for a fair day’s work, and when we get a little bit of imbalance and the controversy occurred with Forsythe leaving and Sam coming in, it’s important for us to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to make sure police protection of the visitors of Cobb County and our citizens is where it needs to be,” he said.

Lee said he does not anticipate a tax increase in paying for the police department’s needs.

“What we’re doing here we have the money in our current budget to do. There’s no tax considerations at all with this program,” Lee said.



Comments
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Real-Issue
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March 28, 2014
Let's get a grip on the real issues of LEO here. They are being passed over for "Safety Villages", the New Stadium debacle and several other pet projects of Mr. Hankerson and the commissioners. They likely all took care of themselves by that shady deal! All the while with no increase in pay for our officers for several years now!! Couple that with neighboring agencies that are actually looking to the future safety of there areas by hiring away the best trained officers in the country arguably. LEO are tired of being treated like the "red headed stepchild" And who can blame them. I hope Mr. Forsythe will return and step up to run out MR Hankerson and his crew right out of the county! Hopefully the concerned citizens will see the real issues and help to this end. It's time for new blood!
whyisitsohard
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February 21, 2014
Rather than cast stones let's do some math shall we. Lets assume the county hires the 60 vacant positions AND the 40 new ones this year. That is 100 new officers on the road right? WRONG- The academy classes have around 35 recruits or so twice a year= 70. Of the 70 that get an academy slot almost 30% will never complete training. So now it is the end of the year and you have gained around 50 Officers best case scenario (Still 10 less than you were already missing) BUT You never fixed the pay and incentives and lost 72 more as is currently projected. Now it is 2015 and you have net loss of another 22 Officers. You are now down the first 60 the new 40 net 12 loss Tims 40 for the new year = the need for 152 Officers in 2015 with still no incentives.
give me a break
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February 21, 2014
If I were a tax payer in Cobb I would be really concerned about the county shelling out cash for a new braves stadium when they cant maintain day to day operations at their police department due to lack of manpower, lack of equipment, and lack of leadership on the part of the county manager and commissioners. I found an interesting website that details what the police department is facing. www.ducimus.info. Are the Board and Mr. Hankerson really that clueless or are they hoping the citizens of Cobb are just that dumb?
anonymous
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February 21, 2014
At a recent townhall sponsored by Commissioner Birrell, a couple of guys ( who looked and acted like obnoxious organized labor types) made Cobbs un-filled police positions a topic. Birrell seemed to recognize the duo and also seemed to be ready for them to take a substantial amount of time to focus on unfilled police positions.

The police Chief was called upon by Birrell to respond. Which he did, but in a way that gave the strong impression that the Chief was just (knowingly) playing his part in the “script” that was begun by the two guys. The topic took way more time than most people cared to dwell on.

The chief essentially told us that crime is not up in Cobb, the braves stadium is not going to raise crime, the police are currently responding to their calls in a timely manner BUT, they want to “help more” and “respond faster”.

He then dwelled on how many police officers Cobb is losing (supposedly to other jurisdictions - really? How much safer could a LE gig get than Cobb County?) and his interest in giving the cops “incentives” to stay in Cobb.

Sorry, but if our crime is not going up and the braves stadium is not going to cause more crime, I am not interested in having MORE police officers on the county payroll to “help more”.

I don’t know how additional cops could help more. But, I could dang sure see them helping fill the County coffers with a substantial increase in issuance of petty citations/assets seizures/furthering the endless "war on drugs" etc.

I can also see the extra cops being used to “help more” in serving “no-knock” warrants in the dead of night …these days, highly likely on the wrong address ( and at which they at least shoot the innocent homeowners non-vicious dog, if not the young boy who has the Wii gaming remote control in his hand).

I can see more of the “SWAT teams for every occasion” mindset creeping into the Cobb PD with a larger team of cops(…more than a few of whom will likely not be professional, law abiding or restrained in the way they deal with everyday citizens).

That said, I sincerely have the greatest respect for Cobb County Police. They have proved themselves to be excellent for the many years I have lived in Cobb. I am grateful for the way Cobb County has been doing policing...firm but, professional, competent and without bullying citizens. BUT, I do not want the Cobb Police department to become the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department or the Atlanta PD ( or any other BIG city police department). We do not need the thug/lawless/shoot first and everything cops that are attracted to big city PDs. We do not need cops who are bullies. We do not need cops who approach citizens as enemy combatants. We do not need more cops just because our Chief wants the police department to be “more help”.

Hire smart cops. Hire professional cops. Hire law abiding cops. Hire people who have respect for the citizens. If Cobb County does, we will not need MORE cops.

yes, REALLY
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February 21, 2014
"really? How much safer could a LE gig get than Cobb County?" You must not listen to the news or read the paper. Two Cobb cops have been SHOT in the last six months. Not shot at, SHOT. By real criminals. Within 5 miles of the stadium property.
Say What?
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February 21, 2014
Just goes to show some citizens are clueless. How safe is Cobb?? What about the two officers that have been shot the last 7 months. Maybe you would like to classify them as thugs. By the way since 2011 163 officers have left Cobb County. Tell you anything or are you just about sensatilizing otter nonsense? Labor thugs?? Petty citations? Asset seizures? Come on, really. I doubt you have any respect for the Police Department.
None of your busines
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February 21, 2014
Hey Anonymous-

Your comments are so poorly thought out, I wasn't going to respond until I read the last sentence:

"Hire smart cops. Hire professional cops. Hire law abiding cops. Hire people who have respect for the citizens. If Cobb County does, we will not need MORE cops."

The Cobb County Police Department is losing 70 officers a year and only hiring and training 40-48. This trend has been occurring for the past 8 years. Why are they leaving a once well staffed and highly professional police agency? Because other departments in metro Atlanta have cruised past CCPD. Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Brookhaven have better pay, benefits (100% paid healthcare & dental), and take-home car. They are the agencies that are attracting those "smart, professional" cops, not Cobb.If you want a well trained professional police agency you have to remain competitive for your area. CCPD has not. It is that simple.
anonymous
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February 21, 2014
Yes, REALLY...sadly yes. There have been some recent shootings in Cobb. But, comparatively speaking, Cobb is (thankfully) a pretty safe gig.

By the way, deaths of law enforcement officers in the US overall by bad guys is down to the levels it was in 1894 (yep, over 100 year ago) And construction workers are killed way more frequently than police today. Cops are more likely to be killed in a traffic accident.

anonymous
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February 21, 2014
Hey None of Your Business, talk about poorly thought out, how about telling us why Cobbs crime rate is not going up EVEN while all these police officers are supposedly "leaving"? Why do we need more cops if crime is not a problem in Cobb? May be you can tell us how the police are going to "help more"?

While you are at it, tell us where all of these police officers are going?

Now waiting for your well thought out response.

PS - Why am thinking you were on of the two guys at Birrells town hall?
anonymous
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February 21, 2014
RE: SAY WHAT? said "By the way since 2011 163 officers have left Cobb County. Tell you anything or are you just about sensatilizing otter nonsense?"

Tells me Cobb is still a very safe place even without all of those police officers. Makes me think we had more than we needed, or...perhaps you are not really telling us everything about those cops that "left" Cobb county.

RE: "petty citations"...yes...I am seeing a lot more (needless) speeding tickets being issued in Cobb with a whole bunch more cops on the streets. And probably more appearances of the SWAT wagons and military toys on the streets of Cobb. Sorry. But that is the way it will work. Just not interested in it.

RE: "I doubt you have any respect for the Police Department." - Well of course. You apparently have a vested interest in there being more COPS on the County Payroll...and at higher pay (are you a labor type? or county LE?)...why would anyone expect you not to lash out with vacuous statements like that.

Cobber43
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February 21, 2014
Another delay tactic. Give us 40 positions on paper or even 100. It doesn't matter. Are the positions actually funded? Is there money behind them or is it on paper? We can't fill the vacancies we have and the officers continue to leave every week.

The additional patrol rifles will cost nothing because the officers are buying them, NOT to county. How about another survey Sam to check the survey that checked the survey before that????
what a great plan
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February 22, 2014
The officers should not have to buy their own equipment.
Just Wait
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February 21, 2014
It's a good start, but only a start. Wonder what ole Hankerson is thinking!
what a great plan
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February 22, 2014
So, we are going to try to hire 40 officers, on top of the openings you already have that you can't fill, so you can move 3 precincts to 10 hour shifts. 1 precinct is already doing it (for almost 2 years now) and then hire 40 more in '15 or '16 to do the last precinct. So some will be on 10 hour shifts, some on 8 hour shifts. No consistency. What a great plan, again all predicated on the notion that you can fill those positions.
Not Shocked
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February 22, 2014
Hankerson doesn't think. That's the problem.
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