Talk to union leaders for Atlanta’s cops and firefighters, and they’ll tell you that long-standing unhappiness over pay is driving people away — a morale problem that only got worse in recent weeks after public safety workers were left out of raises given to nearly 3,000 other Atlanta employees.
Nearly 100 officers have resigned from the Atlanta Police Department so far this year, according to APD. The number is on pace to exceed the average of nearly 130 resignations in 2013 and 2014.
Data from Atlanta Fire Rescue show that resignations have doubled in the past two years, with 20 firefighters leaving in fiscal year 2014 and 43 in fiscal year 2015. That’s about 10 percent of the force’s 409 firefighters.
“Everyone’s trying to get out. If you’re a good officer, you’re leaving,” said Joe Layman, a former APD officer who is now in police academy with his wife, another former APD officer, in Aurora, Co.
The problem has put Mayor Kasim Reed in the hot seat, but he’s not been shy about taking public safety union leaders to task for their complaints.
Reed, who points out he’s previously given a number of raises to public safety workers, says he won’t approve additional pay bumps as long as the unions continue to support a class-action lawsuit against his 2011 pension reform.