Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hiring complete for 'very sharp' Dunwoody Police Department

Dunwoody has finished a crucial step in starting its own police force — hiring the cops.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Friday, March 06, 2009

With more than 400 applications, or eight people for every job, the Dunwoody Police Department this week extended offers for all of its 48-member force. The new hires report for training on March 16.

“I think we had to turn away some very talented people, but that’s a good thing,” said councilman Tom Taylor. “We’ve made sure to hire the best of the best.”

Now, all police Chief Billy Grogan has to do to get a force up in Georgia’s newest city in just 25 days is make sure the equipment arrives, oversee all of the necessary training and look over the city’s first police handbook, which is in its final draft.

“We have said it and meant it, that this department will be on the streets on April 1,” Grogan said.

Dunwoody has been scrambling since December to start a police department that many voters cited as key in their decision to become a city. Cityhood advocates had long said that having Dunwoody’s own police force would provide more patrols than DeKalb County, without raising taxes.

Grogan and City Manager Warren Hutmacher have delivered on that pledge, in part by designating more than 40 percent of the city’s $14.4 million budget for the new police force. The job comes with perks: 40 take-home cars, top-of-the-line equipment that ranges from 45-caliber Glock service weapons to in-car navigation systems and a $300 monthly housing subsidy to live inside the city limits.

But the generous benefits and starting salary of at least $42,000 for patrol officers were not the main factors that Dunwoody used to lure away experienced officers from Atlanta, DeKalb County and other departments in the region, the city manager said.

“At the end of the day, it’s the chief and his management team,” Hutmacher said. “I’ve been told by people in the police community that they want to work with someone like Chief Grogan.”

That work will include regular patrols as well as an intense effort on “community policing,” with officers encouraged to get to know residents and business owners in an effort to prevent crime as well as control it.

The incoming force has five to seven years’ average experience, Grogan said. But on top of experience, the city looked for, and hired, the candidates with the best training and communication skills, he said.

“The citizens are going to see a very professional, sharp Police Department,” Grogan said. “I think the residents are going to be very pleased.”

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