Push for higher pay amid severe Clarkston police officer shortage

One metro Atlanta Police Department could whittle down to less than 10 officers this summer
One metro Atlanta Police Department could whittle down to less than 10 officers this summer.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLARKSTON, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - There’s a push to pay officers a more competitive salary in Clarkston so they don’t lose them to nearby agencies.

Clarkston Police Chief Christine Hudson says officers are making just over $46,000 when they start.

Hudson says the department is budgeted for 21 officers.

While the department is normally down a few officers, she says this summer they could be down to less than 10 officers.

Chief Hudson says the department will be down to fifteen officers in a few days.

She says other officers have expressed interest in possibly leaving the force as well.

Clarkston is home to more than 14,000 people.

Chief Hudson and others are pushing for higher pay as just one way to help alleviate the staffing crisis.

“The short-term control the council has is the budget and the money,” said Clarkston City Councilmember Jamie Carroll.

Given the current shortage, he says he’s proposing an increase in police pay and proposing the city offer retention bonuses to help recruit and retain officers.

“Right now Clarkston starting salary is around $46,000,” said Carroll. “I think we need to go up to about $55,000 that’s where DeKalb is at so in order to be competitive with some of the other nearby departments, I think that’s a good starting target.”

He says he’s hoping the Mayor and other council members will be on board with the pay increases.

“I hope that they will given the crisis that we’re facing, I think we need to take emergency steps to be more competitive with the other metro Atlanta police departments in terms of compensation,” said Carroll.

In response to the police staffing crisis, the city announced a collaboration with Dekalb County

“Their assistance during peak times will enable us to maintain our high level of responsiveness and service, ensuring our citizens feel safe at all times,” the release said.

In the same release, Mayor Burks stated “Our city’s safety is our number one priority. We are dedicated to maintaining the quality and effectiveness of our police department throughout these changes. We want to assure the public that we are making every effort to ensure a smooth transition.”

Some residents who spoke with Atlanta News First said they are not worried about the shortage.

Other residents had their concerns, especially if outside agencies step in to fill the gaps.

“We have unique issues here in the city and our officers know us so,” said Clarkston resident Brian Medford. “I am concerned about any outside officers not being as well prepared to deal with the unique issues of Clarkston.”

Atlanta News First reached out to the Mayor and City Manager for an interview. We have not received a response.

“I’d like to continue to see a staffed police force here in Clarkston because it gives us a safety net here in Clarkston,” said Medford.

Councilmember Carroll says he plans to bring up the discussion of pay increase for officers at next Tuesday’s June 6th council meeting.