“We need you, the city needs you:” Tyler Perry hosts appreciation lunch for Atlanta officers

ATLANTA — Several efforts are underway to help retain law enforcement officers across Georgia.

Tyler Perry Studios hosted an appreciation luncheon for the City of Atlanta police department over the weekend.

Only Channel 2′s cameras were allowed inside as the mayor, interim police chief and Tyler Perry discussed how this is just one way they are working to boost morale.

“We need you, the city needs you,” Tyler Perry said.

“I’m glad Tyler Perry did it this year. Coming out of the pandemic, these guys have gone through a hard time over the last two years and so to tell them that we appreciate them and that they’re well trained and well prepared to go out here and deal with all types of dangers but also to deal with all types of care.”

Dickens said this is the first year doing the luncheon. It meets a need for appreciation as APD is one of several departments across the country battling increased resignations.

The Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit think tank, says nationwide low morale, department scrutiny and pandemic concerns are factors contributing to low retention rates.

A June 2021 survey reveals a 45% increase in retirement rates and nearly 20% increase in resignations were seen nationwide for police departments.

Currently, Atlanta police is down 25% of its desired 2,000 officers needed.

Interim police chief Darin Schierbaum says bad morale within a department is not what’s best for the community they serve.

“We care about all 242 of our neighborhoods,” he said. “We are an effective police department when we are effectively communicating with our community.”

Dickens has been vocal since getting elected on improving morale and increasing retention.

Last week, the city approved retention bonuses for Atlanta police officers across all ranks with funds coming from the American Rescue Plan ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 per employee.

“They work day and night to keep us safe and to protect and serve and they just want to see us say thank you,” Mayor Andre Dickens said.

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