Gwinnett law enforcement ‘appreciative’ of significant pay raises


Gwinnett officials believe newly approved pay raises for local law enforcement officers and other county employees will be a worthwhile investment.

Even if it’s one that had to be funded through the oft-dreaded increase of property taxes.

“There’s pressure all the way through the organization, is the way I would describe it,” Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said Wednesday, referencing vacancies and attrition issues throughout Gwinnett’s government. ” … We’re not handling the responsibilities of our office if we don’t address issues like this.”

More on myAJC.com: Gwinnett city council candidate defends Facebook posts

With a resolution adopted during their Tuesday night meeting, Nash and her fellow commissioners approved much-discussed pay increases for sworn employees of Gwinnett’s police department, sheriff’s office and corrections departments, as well as its 911 communications center.

All of those employees will now receive a 4 percent pay bump — in addition to the 3 percent “market adjustment” that will be offered both to them and to virtually all other full-time county employees.

That means Gwinnett law enforcement personnel will essentially get a raise of 7 percent. In a briefing in front of the Board of Commissioners earlier this month, police chief Butch Ayers said his department’s starting salary of around $36,000 was, on average, about 7 percent less than that of comparable agencies.

That factor has been key in the department’s years-long struggles to hire and retain new officers.

“We are aware and appreciative of the pay increase,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Deon Washington said.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said he too was thankful for the commission’s support.

“The remedy for attrition is better pay,” Conway said in an emailed statement, “so this pay increase is a valuable tool in our efforts to invest in the best, brightest and most dedicated professionals to serve our community.”

The increases will go into effect with the Nov. 4 pay period, officials said. Exactly how much the raises will cost the county was not immediately clear.

More on myAJC.com: Early surveys suggest Gwinnett is willing to pay transit-funding sales tax

Tuesday’s action was made possible by a vote during the summer to increase the county’s millage rate.

The commission opted in July to increase the rate by about one-third of a mill, an amount that officials equated to about $21 additional property tax dollars for the owner of the “average,” $200,000 Gwinnett County home. The decision was not unanimous.

District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter and District 4 Commissioner John Heard both voted against the proposal, with the latter suggesting a lower, “revenue neutral” millage rate. Heard said at the time that he made the motion based on what he was hearing from the public.

In a press release sent following Tuesday’s resolution, both commissioners said the pay increases would help Gwinnett remain competitive in law enforcement and elsewhere.

Law enforcement has gotten the bulk of the attention, and perhaps rightfully so — GCPD is operating 93 officers short of full strength and the sheriff’s office currently has 38 deputy vacancies.

But at full strength, Gwinnett County has a total of nearly 5,000 employees. And county officials say those outside law enforcement are often lagging behind as well when compared to the pay of their colleagues in other governments or in the private sector.

Nash had publicly suggested pay raises would be included in the 2018 budget recommendations that she will issue in the coming weeks, but said Wednesday she’d hoped all along something might get done sooner.

“We still just know there’s so much pressure on it,” Nash said. “And we just felt like this was important to go ahead and put this in place to demonstrate to folks that we’re going to do more than talk about it.”

In other Gwinnett news: 



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

A Thanksgiving Day chat with Andrew Young, on the state of the Atlanta mayor’s race
A Thanksgiving Day chat with Andrew Young, on the state of the Atlanta mayor’s race

Atlanta mayoral candidates Mary Norwood (right) and Keisha Lance Bottoms at the Atlanta Press Club debate last week. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM Chatsworth, Ga. — The turkey had just gone into the oven when word arrived that Andrew Young, the former U.N. ambassador and mayor, was worried about the state of the current...
‘It’s so rewarding’: volunteers serve over 7,000 meals to Atlanta needy
‘It’s so rewarding’: volunteers serve over 7,000 meals to Atlanta needy

On Thanksgiving, Gladys and Cleave Smith chose to sing, not despair. The couple became homeless last week after they couldn’t scrape up money for the hotel room where they’ve been living since June. But they held hands and sang as they left a free holiday meal shared with thousands of other needy Atlantans at the Georgia World Congress...
Dunwoody police search for missing, ‘disoriented’ woman
Dunwoody police search for missing, ‘disoriented’ woman

Dunwoody police are asking the public for help this Thanksgiving to find a woman who was reported missing after she didn’t show up at her daughter’s house in Peachtree Corners.  Velma Harrison, 79, left her Dunwoody home Wednesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with her daughter and grandson.  Harrison never arrived. Instead...
Clerk shoots, wounds armed robbery suspect in Douglasville
Clerk shoots, wounds armed robbery suspect in Douglasville

A gas station clerk shot and wounded a man attempting an armed robbery, Douglasville Police said. The incident occurred at the Chevron station at 6590 Bankhead Hwy. in Douglasville Wednesday night just before 9:30 p.m. A man armed with a gun attempted to hold up the station but the clerk pulled his own weapon and shot the suspect once, police said...
Thanksgiving Day shooting in DeKalb County; 1 man dead
Thanksgiving Day shooting in DeKalb County; 1 man dead

Thanksgiving in Atlanta began with a fatal shooting at a DeKalb County Chevron station. DeKalb County Police said a 32-year-old man was shot and killed inside the gas station at 2691 Bouldercrest Rd. at about 1 a.m. Thursday after an argument with his assailant that began outside. Family members identified the victim as Andricus Harris. Harris stopped...
More Stories