Cobb County commissioners approved a new police chief and one-time bonuses for public safety employees at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
A three-decade veteran of the department, Tim Cox had been serving as interim chief after former Chief Mike Register was promoted to head of public safety last month.
Cox was officially hired to the position at a salary of $138,000 by a vote of 4-1 with south Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid objecting.
Cupid said her concerns were with the process, not the candidate, suggesting the board rushed to hire Cox without giving fair consideration to other candidates.
Cox won the support of the other commissioners and Ben Williams, the head of the Cobb chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who has been critical of the police department in the past.
“In the last couple of years, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen a number of excellent changes in the culture of our police department,” Williams said. “Deputy Chief Cox is someone who I believe is the right person at this time in order to provide the continuity for the changes that are taking place in our district.”
Speaking to the AJC after his confirmation, Cox said his priorities were “building community trust” and addressing employee concerns over pay and benefits.
Police, fire and Sheriff’s Office employees have been lobbying the commission for months over what they describe as a “crisis” of staffing and retention.
On Tuesday, the board approved one-time $1,475 payments to those employees as a “first step” toward improving pay and benefits.
“You will see fruit from your efforts,” County Chairman Mike Boyce told the audience, which was packed with public safety employees, many of them holding signs that said “Fix it now” and “I support Cobb County public safety.”
Firefighter Vince Astrella was among those in attendance at the meeting. He welcomed the bonus, which he said was a surprise.
“I think it shows that they’re actually serious about taking care of the retention issues,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done still but it’s a step in the right direction.”
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