Pollard said the money is invaluable for a small department.
“Just like everybody had coming out of COVID and going through COVID, we had some issues dealing with (employment) numbers. I currently have a shortage of officers as far as patrolling,” Pollard said. “This will allow me to increase those numbers when it comes to patrolling the city and putting more feet on the ground, helping me with response times.”
He currently has five officers patrol the streets, two cops perform administrative duties and one officer work with the Georgia Crime Information Center. Pollard said the new hires increase the number of patrolling officers to 11, adds a supervisor and allows the department to have an in-house criminal investigation officer for more serious cases, such as aggravated assault and shootings. Lithonia police currently rely on DeKalb County police for such investigations.
Pollard said residents will soon notice more frequent patrols, and the new hires will help improve officer safety, since backup will be more readily available.
The grant awards can only be used for personal costs, and it lasts for three years. Once the funds are depleted, it’s up to the city to foot the bill in order to keep its larger department staffed. Pollard said the city will need extra income if that’s going to happen.
Lithonia attempted to annex 300 acres via a referendum, but a handful of voters rejected the idea this past election cycle. With only 25 votes cast, the referendum barely failed, but Pollard said the city needs the extra land and residents to bolster the city’s budget.
“The city is looking to once again go after annexation,” he said. “So in three years time, we would pray that the scenario has shifted to where those officers would become a part of the situation that is not a burden on the budget and that they are just a regular piece of the operation.”