Updated:COBB COUNTY, Ga. —
Cobb County leaders surprised some of their own police officers Wednesday by unveiling an ambitious program aimed at bringing the department up to full speed by the time the Atlanta Braves begin playing ball in the county.
Privately Cobb County officers told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt their concerns about the department have moved from low pay to simply their safety on the streets. The officers said that the department has lost so many officers sometimes backup seems far away.
Jack Forsythe, the former Public Safety director, quit over his frustrations. The new Public Safety Director Sam Heaton says this new plan should boost sagging morale.
“What I've wanted to do is let the police officers who’ve been concerned that no one cares know that we do care and we're making big efforts to change that right now,” said Heaton.
The “Police Department Improvement Plan” promises $8 million in spending that will bring the Cobb force up to full staff again by the start of 2017. That includes the ambitious target of hiring 232 new cops in that time.
The plan would double the pace of hiring, study departmental pay, and provide much-requested benefits that includes take home patrol cars, 10-hour shifts, and shift differential pay.
“I hope it’s enough to keep officers from leaving the department,” said Fraternal Order of Police attorney Lance LoRusso.
LoRusso applauded the plan, but worried it provided little for the officers on the beat this year. Around two dozen have reportedly left the force since January 1.
“Right now this is a promise to put this in place. We're going to be watching that vote to make sure it’s going to be put in place,” said LoRusso.
Commission Chair Tim Lee believes it will.
“Our message is simply this, we are good, we are great and we're going to get better through this plan,” said Lee.