DeKalb County CEO proposes pay raises for police, new recruits

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) - DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond is proposing a plan to increase police officer pay that he said would make DeKalb County officers among the best paid, if not the best, in the state for a large jurisdiction.

He is planning to submit a budget to county commissioners within the next few weeks that includes pay increases for current and new officers.

“Across the board increases for new recruits, increases for veteran officers as well as continuing to improve our pension plan,” said Thurmond. “It will be a significant increase between 5 and 10% in terms of starting salary.”

Much of the money to pay for it would come from $73 million the county recently received from the American Rescue Plan.

“The pandemic has created a major challenge for law enforcement,” said Thurmond. “More difficult to recruit, more difficult to retain and we have to do everything we can as public servants to invest in the men and women who are keeping us safe.”

Thurmond touts a number of initiatives for police under his leadership. The most recent includes increasing the county contribution to the 401(a) plan from 3% to 6% as well as triple overtime pay for officers.

“These are very challenging times for people who are placed in the front line who are having to make life and death decisions on a daily basis,” said Thurmond, who said the pay raises would happen sooner rather than later if approved.

“A lot of the officers are not believing it until we see it,” said Jeff Wiggs, the president of the DeKalb County Fraternal Order of Police.

“Morale is horrible. It’s the worst I’ve seen in 35 years,” he added.

“The triple time is obviously an acknowledgment of the crisis that we are in here in DeKalb with the manpower shortage and more people are continuing to leave,” said Wiggs.

“They just need to do a good across the board raise, especially for our captains and below, our troops out here on the streets, they need 20% at least to start with,” he said. “If not, we’re going to continue to lose them, they’re going to continue to go other places and DeKalb is going to continue to have crime go up.”

Chief Mirtha Ramos said, “My message is we do appreciate the officers. I believe our community appreciates the officers and the salary incentives is just another way of showing them that we do. We understand that it’s not easy but we do appreciate their efforts and they do great work at keeping us safe here in DeKalb County.”