Warner Robins council talks police position change, hiring more officers

jmink@macon.comDecember 2, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- A proposed police department classification change sparked a short debate about the city’s police officer shortage Monday during a City Council work session.

The ordinance would have upgraded one training officer position to sergeant, but the ordinance was tabled.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins suggested the council postpone the vote until a new administration is in place next month.

The police position change is necessary because instead of an officer training other officers, a sergeant would be performing that task, Mayor Chuck Shaheen said. The new sergeant still would have to pass required tests to get the position, he said.

During the work session, a few council members questioned what was being done to address a police officer shortage.

Currently, Warner Robins needs about 12 more officers, Chief Brett Evans said.

The city is hiring as many officers as possible, and three swearing-in ceremonies have been scheduled, Evans said.

The city’s Human Resources Department now works with the police department in finding qualified candidates, which has helped the process, Shaheen said.

Still, some council members said officers are not being hired fast enough.

“That needs to change,” Councilman Tim Thomas said.

Robbins argued the city needs more officers, and there is no reason for a lull in hiring them.

“We’ve got good pay. We’ve got good benefits,” she said. “There is something wrong with the system if we can’t hire more police officers.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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