Brookhaven police officers will get a salary increase this year, a move city officials hope will bring them in line with other jurisdiction’s pay and bring in more experienced applicants.
The Brookhaven City Council voted Monday to approve the raise, which will average 21 percent, based on each officer's experience. The raise comes in the wake of officer pay raises in Atlanta and DeKalb County.
In a memo to council members, Brookhaven city manager Christian Sigman said the increased pay in other markets was crippling their recruiting efforts.
“This not only compromises our ability to attract new and experienced applicants, it threatens our ability to retain current employees,” he said. The Brookhaven Police Department employs 73 officers for its city of about 50,000 residents, Police Chief Gary Yandura told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He plans to hire six more officers this year.
Yandura said the department has struggled to hire experienced officers. Thirty-four percent of the department consists of new recruits with less than two years of experience.
“We are looking to complement the young, less experienced officers with seasoned and tenured veterans,” he said. Yandura said the inexperienced recruits haven’t led to department performance issues, but he is hoping his next hires come with at least three years of experience.
As part of the pay increase, the city increased the minimum and maximum salaries for the positions and adjusted pay for existing staff based on their history and experience, city spokesman Burke Brennan said in an email to the AJC.
“So, an officer who was hired four years ago with 10 years of experience before he or she got here might receive a larger increase than an officer who has joined the force two years ago straight from the academy,” he said.
The increase will be reflected in the first pay cycle in April.
Brookhaven is the latest metro Atlanta jurisdiction to increase its police officers’ pay.
In October, Atlanta City Council approved a 30 percent pay increase over the next three years for its police department. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners increased public safety officials’ pay by 4 percent in November.
Atlanta and DeKalb officials had bemoaned low police pay, citing it as a reason officers leave for other departments. Brookhaven had the same problem. The city first began recruiting officers in 2013, a year after it was incorporated. At the time, salary ranges were more competitive and salaries at the police department only saw a three percent increase in 2017.
“We still have great benefits and (police) equipment, but the pay structure didn’t increase as time went on,” Yandura said.
A recent study conducted by Brookhaven police and the city’s human resource department revealed the city had the lowest starting salary for officers, sergeants, and lieutenants when compared with other local jurisdictions.
Before the increase, officers and detectives made between $42,406 and $67,850. Now, they will take home between $48,500 and $71,792 annually depending on their experience and tenure, putting them in line with Atlanta police salaries.
Sergeants and lieutenants will make at least $86,665 and $98,852, respectively. They previously saw starting salaries at $54,166 and $61,752.
In an effort stay competitive, the city plans to review its officers’ training, certifications and performance evaluations every three years to assess if salary adjustments are needed.
“This is an important task. When we started the city it was a different time for the people, the police officers, and the economy,” said Brookhaven council member Bates Mattison of the pay increases. “Our police represent the most important service we offer as a city, and we need to be sure we are treating them right.”
In other 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.