Georgia Department of Public Safety: Employee pay raise is ‘mandatory’

One of Georgia’s top law enforcement officials is calling on Georgia lawmakers to increase taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits for state law enforcement employees.

Georgia Department of Public Safety Chief of Staff Maj. Joshua Lamb told members of the Senate Georgians Retirement Security Review Committee on Thursday that it was “mandatory” to increase salaries to recruit and retain current law enforcement employees.

Lamb said the department has a 22% turnover rate and annual job applications have dropped 60% over the past three years.

“Traditional salaries associated with law enforcement are no longer effective, as rhetoric and animosity towards the police increases, as are the salaries that must be paid to someone to enter and remain in this profession” , Lamb said.

The state launched the study committee to assess employee compensation and pension benefits. Legislative members plan to present their findings to the full General Assembly when it meets in January.

Lamb said the DPS had the lowest number of soldiers it had in the past 24 years. He said the new wave of anti-police sentiment across the country has exacerbated hiring and retention issues for the DPS.

Nationwide protests have erupted over the killing of black Americans in the summer of 2020, leading to calls to cut funding for law enforcement. As a result, the DPS lost 87 soldiers in 2020. This cost the state $7.8 million.

The agency must pay for the training, screening and onboarding of recruits, even if the majority of them do not pass through the hiring process, Lamb said. The state also has to pay hefty retirement payments to departing long-serving employees.

“We’re now not only having trouble getting them in through the front door, but also having trouble keeping them out of the back door,” Lamb said.

Lamb said the agency has accelerated training for soldiers, relaxed uniform and appearance requirements, and increased starting salaries by more than $10,000, but that hasn’t been enough to attract new recruits. many recruits.

“If we expect anyone to come into this work and face the fear of having their life destroyed or being killed in the line of duty, they should be paid an amount that justifies that risk,” said Lamb.

Other agency executives also expressed retention issues on Thursday. Georgian Ministry of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said about 70% of employees leave the DJJ within six months.

Gov. Brian Kemp and other state officials announced a plan on Monday to award one-time $1,000 bonuses to law enforcement officers and other federal aid first responders. Georgia also granted one-time bonuses of $1,000 to full-time state employees who earn less than $80,000 a year in fiscal year 2021. Officials said Thursday there were a number alarming number of state employees receiving public assistance in Georgia.

William M. Mayer