Strategies undertaken in recent months to try and stem the tide of attrition at the Gwinnett County Police Department are starting to work, Chief Butch Ayers said Tuesday.
Ayers’ agency has battled with attrition for years, combating both an overall decrease of interest in the profession and upstart departments able to offer better pay. In Oct. 2016, the county added a new rank of master police officer (and a corresponding 6 percent pay raise) for experienced officers, as well as a similar raise for highly trained officers working in the criminal investigations division and fatal accident investigations unit.
A total of 268 officers — nearly 40 percent of the department’s entire staff — have now received one or both of those pay bumps, Ayers said. And voluntary attrition in the first nine months of this year was down “30 to 35 percent” compared to the same period in 2016.
The department currently has 93 sworn vacancies. A year ago it had 105.
“I think these programs are working,” Ayers said during a Tuesday afternoon meeting with multiple county department heads and officials. The gathering was designed as a follow-up to the county’s strategic planning session earlier this year.
Ayers said beefed up recruitment efforts have also paid off. While the department still sees about half as many applications as it did in 2012, it’s on pace to receive more applications this year than last.
It plans to nearly double its advertising budget in 2018.
A more formal, department-wide pay raise could be included in Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash’s recommended 2018 budget, too. That would likely increase the starting salary offered by the police department as well.
“We’ve got to have a lot of people coming in that front end ... to meet our manpower standards,” Ayers said.
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