“Riding a motorcycle is hazardous and especially in the city of Atlanta,” said Sgt. William Prescott, who recently retired from the department. “Speeds are tremendously high, we’re out there working as hard as we can and again, no matter what the circumstances, we’re still on that motorcycle.”
Prescott was among a group of Atlanta Police Department officers who lobbied Atlanta City Council members on Monday to institute a hazard pay program for the specialized unit.
Council member Andrea Boone introduced legislation that directs the Department of Human Resources to set up a stipend program for officers assigned to the motors unit. Under the proposal, officers — depending on their rank — would receive a stipend of between $4,200 and $6,000, to cover regular time spent training and help with medical costs from on-the-job injuries.
According to the bill, 14 motor patrol officers in Atlanta have died from car accidents. Other specialized units like the city’s SWAT team already have hazardous pay benefits.
Boone called the prospective pay bump “long overdue.”
“We have motorcycle units out in all types of inclement weather,” she said. “They have sustained many injuries because they’re not in cars.”
The legislation passed out of the Public Safety and Legal Administration on Monday and faces a vote in full council next week.
Motor unit officers must go through 80 hours of training annually to recertify for the position. Captain Thomas Atzert — who was previously a lieutenant in the motors unit — said that the team currently trains at the Atlanta Expo Center on Jonesboro Rd., but will train at Atlanta’s public safety training facility when the project is finished.
Atzert said he broke his leg the first time he went through the certification class.
“If you strap on these helmets and all this extra gear and you go through all this extra training and certification in order to do what we do, we feel like those units are the ones that should get hazardous duty pay,” he said.