Atlanta billboard calling on officers to join Louisville PD raises eyebrows

Atlanta billboard recruits officers for Louisville PD
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:29 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 9:57 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A billboard attempting to lure more people to the Louisville Metro Police Department is raising some eyebrows after being posted in Downtown Atlanta.

The sign features former Atlanta police chief Erika Shields with a message encouraging officers to come work for her in Louisville, Kentucky. Shields served as the APD chief from 2016 through 2020 until resigning amid investigations into police brutality. She now leads the Louisville police force.

“I would absolutely love to get some of their talent up here,” said Chief Shields. “having been a life-long employee of the Atlanta Police Department I know that the employees are well trained.”

She said she’s looking for an additional 300 officers to diversify her department. With black officers currently making up only 14 percent.

“Cities that have a strong black population to me are where we need to be because our department is not nearly diverse enough, just not nearly.”

But this new recruitment push, felt by some as a poaching tactic, at a time when Atlanta is dealing with its own crime issues.

Homicides are up 40 percent and rape up 139 percent year to date in the city.

But Chief Shields said she’s committed to the plan to find the best talent possible, even if it’s going into her old backyard.

“It’s business. Tell Coke not to hire from Pepsi. You’re not getting that. Suck it up, put on the big boy pants and do the work.”

And that work, is already in high gear. Mayor Andre Dickens said part of his initiatives to fight crime is hiring an additional 250 officers, of which his office said 125 already been hired.

“We just started a class last week, we start another one next month and an additional class the month after that. Putting us back on the trajectory of where we were even pre pandemic,” said APD Chief Rodney Bryant.

In addition to the billboard, LMPD’s Recruitment Team announced it would host a recruiting event in Atlanta from March 23 through 27.

Lateral officers who have served at least four years are eligible for an $8,000 hiring bonus, $3,000 relocation bonus and a take-home vehicle upon being assigned a patrol division.

The local police union feels with what Chief Shields is offering she has a strong chance of getting current APD officers.

“Chief Shields was a well-liked chief. She’s stepping up in a quick way and a quick manner and I feel she’s going to be able to fill her vacancies quickly with the measures that she and her team are taking,” said Lt. Kevin Knapp, President of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623, who also works at APD.

He said currently APD is offering new recruits a $2,000 incentive, one grand for signing on and another $1,000 after graduating from the academy. And believes the department needs to do more to remain competitive and attractive to recruits.

APD sent the following statement on their recruiting efforts and the efforts of others to recruit their officers.

Hiring among law enforcement agencies has become competitive. Many departments are well aware that the Atlanta Police Department is a first-class agency that provides top tier training which allows us to have some of the best officers in the nation. Additionally, we’re looking forward to adding more capable women and men to our department; as we remain dedicated to our oath of protecting and serving the great citizens of Atlanta.