Cobb County Police to add 40 new officers amid controversy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cobb County Police to add 40 new officers amid controversy

ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Cobb County Board of Commissioners were blasted at Tuesday's board meeting for failing to better protect the citizens of Cobb County.

"You outta be ashamed of yourselves," Tim Mitchell, a Cobb County resident told commissioners. Mitchell said he believes police officers deserve the best equipment and pay to keep morale high and citizens safe.

"These people out here every day, when they take their shift they strap a gun on their side. Have you ever really stopped and thought, why do they need a gun? Other county employees don't."

Four people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to address the concerns of the department.

All said officer morale was at an all-time low. In 2013, Cobb County Police Chief John Houser said the department lost 70 officers. Some were lost to surrounding jurisdictions for better pay, and work incentives.

Houser admits there are problems in the department with retention and manpower.

"We need the additional officers. Do we need to have people or officers hurt before we can define it as a crisis? I can't get into public debate of what defines a crisis," Houser said. "I will tell you there are issues that needs to be addressed in the Cobb County Police Department and we are actively addressing those issues."

Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee said he appreciates all of the hard work police do daily, and will work to find a common ground from their concerns.

The board voted to approve 40 additional officers. But, some people like Lance LoRusso, who works closely with the Cobb County Fraternal Order of Police, is skeptical.

"The changes you are voting on tonight will barely stop the bleeding, and they will not stop the problems of officers leaving this department," LoRusso said.

In the past seven months two officers have been shot. Houser said both were saved by the bulletproof vests.

"The Cobb County Police Department is well equipped. We have body armor for all of our officers. We require they wear it. Luckily they have it, and it works," Houser said.

Houser said in the coming months he will ask the board for an additional 40 officers. There are also 40 officer positions that currently need to be filled. Houser said the department is aiming for nearly 680 officers once all of the positions are filled.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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