Cobb Police documents obtained by WSB’s Pete Combs show the county’s police force is among the thinnest in the metro area, with one cop for every 1160 people. That’s lower than Gwinnett County and roughly half of the per capita manpower in DeKalb County.
When he submitted his resignation last week, Cobb Public Safety Director Jack Forsythe said that puts lives on the line.
“Officers are short. Some beats are going unfilled, which leads to officer safety issues,” Forsythe said.
“His concerns are certainly something that need to be looked at,” said Cobb County spokesman Robert Quigley.
The problem is most apparent during shift change, according to documents obtained by WSB. They show that three times a day, the number of officers on the streets of Cobb County falls dangerously low.
“We need officers out there,” Forsythe said. “That’s just the bottom line.”
For approximately a year, Cobb County Police have been experimenting with a system that has officers work ten hour shifts four days a week. Police Chief John Houser claims that system not only alleviates the manpower deficits at shift change, but also reduces overtime by up to 36-percent.
In presentations to County Chairman Tim Lee and County Manager David Hankerson, Forsythe repeatedly asked for 30 more officers to implement the 10-hour day program throughout the department. Forsythe made his case 13 times during the past year, but to no avail. In the meantime, the number of officers who have left Cobb County for jobs with other departments offering more pay and benefits has increased to the point where the county now needs 40 more officers to implement the 10-hour/day plan.
“These are not the types of problems you can solve overnight,” said Quigley. He added that the county is working to solve the manpower crunch, but offered no specifics on how or when officials might act.