Columbus Police trying to fill void of budgeted officers - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Columbus Police trying to fill void of budgeted officers

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The city has begun a hiring campaign -- putting up billboards and promoting the openings on social media. The Columbus Police Department is budgeted for 488 officers, but only has 455, leaving 33 openings. Tomlinson says they've never reached the full 488 because of high turnover, layoffs and retirement.

“We’ve had an aging police force,” says Tomlinson.”We tend to have a lot of folks that retire, but eventually that phase will lessen as that generation retires and the younger generation is coming up.”

Colin Martin, who's running against Tomlinson in the upcoming election, says attrition should be the main focus, not recruitment. He says most officers leave after 2-5 years because of better opportunities. He says keeping officers is crucial to get them to a full police force.

“Keeping as close to that number as we can is a priority because everyone of those officers are needed if we didn't need 488 officers, we wouldn't budget for it,” says Martin.

Tomlinson hopes this year they'll get to 488 officers and she says the recruiting campaign titled “Join the Force for Good” should help.

“Our police officers are actually very excited about it,” says Tomlinson. “I think it gives a more modern, hip, younger edge to the excitement and commitment to being a Columbus police officer.”

Martin says he announced in January his plan to hire more officers, and thought it may be more of a coincidence the city began their recruiting push a few days later.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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