Smyrna cops get 28% raises as city seeks new recruits to fill vacancies

Smyrna City Council approved pay increases for its police department on Monday. (AJC file)

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Smyrna City Council approved pay increases for its police department on Monday. (AJC file)

City leaders have armed the Smyrna Police Department with an enticing recruitment tool: more money.

City Council this week raised the starting pay for police officers and approved higher salaries for many of the department’s rank and file.

Officials hope the 28% wage increases help address shortages in police staffing.

City Councilman Tim Gould said the increases will take Smyrna from Cobb County’s lowest-paid police force to one of its highest.

“In some ways, we’ll be the highest paid police department in the county,” he said. “We want folks to stay, and we want to create an environment where they’re compensated fairly. But it’s also an environment where they’re part of the community and they stay for years.”

Council approved the resolution unanimously during their meeting Monday night.

It came less than a month after a 4% across-the-board raises for all city departments.

The increases that council approved Monday take effect with the pay period that ends Nov. 15. At that point the starting salary will go up to $43,192 for uncertified officers and $46,744 for those with certification.

Smyrna police brass issued a hiring announcement and advertised the new starting salaries on Facebook this week.

The changes are the implementation of a pay study done by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute. The study analyzed Smyrna’s pay for 87 officers compared against other area departments. The study showed Smyrna was “lagging the market” with the city in the lower echelon among local jurisdictions, despite the 4% pay grade adjustments from October.

Gould said council members and Mayor Derek Norton recently had a “long, important discussion” about pay raises for the police department as a recruitment tool.

The police department also implemented new minimum pay grades. Thirty-five officers will see their salary increase as a result. The department also addressed the lack of separation between ranks, giving 66 officers “compression adjustments” that range between 8% and more than 20%, according to City Manager Joe Bennett.

The slate of changes will cost the city up to $244,000. That cost will come out of Smyrna’s general fund budget.

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