City of Clarkston could be down to nine police officers by mid-July, city asks DeKalb for backupClarkston City Hall and Police Department. Photo by Dean Hesse
Clarkston, GA — The Clarkston Police Department could be down to nine police officers out of an authorized force of 21 by the middle of July as officers leave the city to pursue better-paying jobs, Chief Christine Hudson said.
Mayor Beverly Burks said the city has contacted DeKalb County to see if its police department could provide backup while the city works to resolve the shortage.
“I have not received an update from DeKalb County about a formal [intergovernmental agreement] to support our police department,” Burks said. “We are following up with the county. The county and the city informally support each other today.”
The police officer shortage is part of a larger drama playing out at Clarkston City Hall, as some city employees have been privately grumbling to the city council and Decaturish about the leadership of City Manager Shawanna Qawiy. The conflict between Qawiy and Hudson has played out in public after Qawiy suspended Hudson and Hudson, who is white, responded by filing a grievance accusing Qawiy, who is Black, of having ‘animus’ toward white people.
Hudson, who is eligible to retire, said the department asked for raises back in November but, “We were told that there was no money for raises back in November.”
Councilmember Jamie Carroll told Decaturish he asked that police pay raises be placed on the agenda for the City Council’s June 6 meeting, but an agenda released by the city for that meeting does not appear to contain this item.
Carroll wants to increase police pay by 8%, pay double for overtime and offer retention bonuses.
Decaturish asked Qawiy questions about the budget and the shortage, but she did not respond. Specifically, we asked Qawiy if the city didn’t have money for raises in November, where will the money for raises proposed by Carroll come from?
Burks answered that question for Qawiy, saying, “The chief is reviewing her department’s budget for potential salary savings to use for the department raises.”
Hudson was blunt, saying that the raises being suggested are not going to solve the problem.
“If they raise it 8%, it’s going to get my starting salary to $50,000,” Hudson said. “You can make $55,000 as a basic recruit in DeKalb County. The guys who are leaving, are leaving for more money.”
Hudson said when the police department is down to nine officers, it will be “all hands on deck.”
Clarkston attempted to get ahead of the story Thursday evening by publishing a press release about the situation. The press release does not specify the number of officers the city will have by the middle of July.
“The Department will see changes as officers prepare to pursue new opportunities. This opens up various full-time and part-time positions that we are now seeking to fill,” the press release says. “To maintain our high standards of service, the City of Clarkston is extending an invitation to qualified individuals passionate about public service to join our dedicated police force.”
Clarkston also published a second press release when it quietly announced the upcoming officer shortage. That press release says there will now be tighter security at city hall.
“Effective immediately, the City of Clarkston is implementing increased security screenings and protocols for individuals entering government facilities,” the press release says. “Visitors will undergo comprehensive screening procedures, including bag checks and the use of metal detectors, to detect any items that may compromise the safety of the premises. We kindly ask all visitors to cooperate during these screenings for the benefit of everyone’s safety.”
The city did not say what prompted the announcement, but earlier today Decaturish was in touch with a resident who demanded to speak with the city manager about the issues at city hall who said she was threatened with arrest.
Here is the full press release about the officer shortage:
CLARKSTON, GA – The City of Clarkston is actively taking steps to ensure the safety and security of its residents amid changes in the Clarkston Police Department.
The Department will see changes as officers prepare to pursue new opportunities. This opens up various full-time and part-time positions that we are now seeking to fill. To maintain our high standards of service, the City of Clarkston is extending an invitation to qualified individuals passionate about public service to join our dedicated police force.
We recognize that these changes come with a period of transition. To ensure the safety and peace of our city during this period, we are pleased to announce our collaboration with DeKalb County. Their assistance during peak times will enable us to maintain our high level of responsiveness and service, ensuring our citizens feel safe at all times.
The City of Clarkston is making substantial efforts to develop a robust pipeline of future recruits. We have partnered with local educational institutions to promote law enforcement careers, providing opportunities for mentorship, internships, and direct learning.
Mayor Burks commented on the changes, stating, “Our city’s safety is our number one priority. We are dedicated to maintaining the quality and effectiveness of our police department throughout these changes. We want to assure the public that we are making every effort to ensure a smooth transition.”
The City of Clarkston remains committed to fostering a safe and secure environment for its residents and businesses.
For more information on the recruitment process or to apply, please visit the City of Clarkston’s website at www.clarkstonga.gov.
Here is the full press release about the new screening policies at city hall:
Clarkston, GA – In response to recent incidents and in alignment with our commitment to ensuring the safety, security, and efficiency of government facilities, the City of Clarkston is implementing an enhanced Visitor Management Policy. These measures are designed to create a secure environment while providing a positive experience for all visitors.
Effective immediately, the City of Clarkston is implementing increased security screenings and protocols for individuals entering government facilities. Visitors will undergo comprehensive screening procedures, including bag checks and the use of metal detectors, to detect any items that may compromise the safety of the premises. We kindly ask all visitors to cooperate during these screenings for the benefit of everyone’s safety.
In addition to the enhanced security measures, the City of Clarkston is introducing an appointment system to streamline access and improve visitor assistance. We strongly encourage all individuals seeking entry into government facilities to schedule appointments with the relevant staff members in advance. This will allow us to better manage visitor traffic, optimize staff availability, and provide personalized assistance to each visitor. The appointment system aims to expedite entry, enhance security by validating identities and purposes in advance, and ensure that the necessary resources are available to meet visitor needs.
Furthermore, it is important to note that visitors will not be permitted to stay in offices after regular business hours as part of our commitment to maintaining a secure environment. This policy helps prevent unauthorized access, minimize potential risks, and safeguard the integrity of our government facilities. Exceptions may be granted with prior approval and appropriate security measures in place.
The City of Clarkston understands that these changes may require adjustments, and we apologize for any inconvenience. The safety and well-being of staff and visitors remain our top priority, and we appreciate your cooperation and understanding in implementing these important measures.
For further information, to schedule an appointment, or if you have any inquiries, please contact the City of Clarkston at 404-296-6489.
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