BY EMMA HURT, WABE
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants to give city police officers one-time, $1,000 bonuses.
The mayor’s office didn’t respond to WABE’s request for comment about the bonuses, but at a city council committee meeting last month, Human Resources Commissioner Sherri Dickerson pointed out the 17 percent vacancy rate in the department.
“Being a police officer is no longer sexy. Like, nobody wants to do that anymore,” she said. “And so, we need to change the narrative around police officers and what the upside is to being a police officer.”
She said city should also look at more competitive pay.
Vince Champion, with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, agreed recruitment is a key issue, which these bonuses wouldn’t affect.
“Would that help in any way? Absolutely not. That’s not going to help retention. That’s not going to help get people here … What that really, kind of says to us, is the mayor really doesn’t care about the officers.”
Champion said boosting base pay or the pension fund would be a better option.
“Another $1,000 that’s going to be a bonus, it doesn’t go towards their pension, it doesn’t go towards overtime that they may work. It’s just a bonus check.”
The bonuses are part of the mayor’s new proposed budget, which raises total police funding by 1.8 percent. It now heads to city council for review.