Hiring is up and attrition is slowing down at the Gwinnett County Police Department, Chief Butch Ayers said this week.
“Everything that was done is working,” he said, referencing recent pay raises and reimagined recruiting efforts, among other things.
The work, though, is far from done.
During a Wednesday morning presentation for county officials and a budget review committee, Ayers laid out his department’s proposed 2019 business plan. It included asking for funding for 42 new positions — 30 sworn officers among them.
The Gwinnett County Police Department — Georgia’s third largest — currently has only about 721 of its 848 authorized sworn positions filled. But that actually marks a bit of an improvement.
For one, the current number of vacancies includes 36 positions to staff the department’s new Bay Creek precinct, which won’t open for another year or so.
Another note: The department projects to hire 130 officers in 2018, while losing only 65. That’s by far the most hires since at least 2011, as well as the largest margin in favor of additions in recent years for the department. The agency lost more people than it hired as recently as 2016.
Ayers credited the payraises approved last year for county law enforcement officers — which amounted to 7 percent increases — with helping retain and attract officers. Additional increases for specialized units also helps, he said, and so have the department’s rejuvenated recruiting efforts.
The agency has participated in more than 75 job fairs since the start of 2017. It has hosted seven hiring events in the last year, in locales ranging from Lawrenceville to Rochester, New York, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Applications received are up nearly 50 percent compared to 2016.
“We have the momentum with us, and we can’t let up,” Ayers said.
The positions requested to be included in the county’s 2019 budget include 30 master police officers (a new, recently created rank for experienced officers), an evidence technician and a crime scene specialist. It would all cost north of $4.2 million for the first year.
Ayers said the new positions would put the department at 1.059 officers per 1,000 residents served (at least if all of the positions were eventually filled). The goal is 1.1.
In other Gwinnett news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.