DCP facing high personnel turnover

ALBANY, Ga. -- The head of the Dougherty County Police Department told Dougherty County Commissioners Monday that he's experienced a 46 percent turnover in his department over the last two years thanks largely to disparities in pay and benefits.

As a part of his annual report before the commission, Chief Don Cheek told commissioners that he was losing officers to the Albany Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff's Office and the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany Police Department because the pay for both sworn and unsworn personnel is not competitive with other agencies.

"The bottom line is if another agency is offering anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 per year more and a signing bonus, a shorter period for retirement ... If you look at it side-by-side, which would you choose?" Cheek said in remarks to reporters following his presentation.

In a report provided to commissioners Monday, Cheek lists the pay disparities between DCP and its counterparts at the APD, which averages more than $3.50 per hour difference.

According to Cheek, the attrition rate for both sworn and unsworn personnel at the DCP for the last two years is 46.4 percent, with sworn personnel fairing just a bit better at 41.3 percent.

Those numbers include resignations for officers leaving for greener professional pastures and officers who have retired, been terminated or, in the case of Lt. Cliff Rouse, died while on duty.

According to the DCP report provided to commissioners, in calendar year 2009 DCP was forced to replace 12 of 56 positions. In 2010, that number grew to 14 of 56 positions.

For calendar year 2010, the DCP responded to 23,429 calls, filed 2,608 incident reports and logged 993,591 miles.

In terms of crime, total Part 1 index crimes -- which included "persons" crimes and property crimes -- was down 8.3 percent.

"Persons" crime was up a total of two incidents from 2009, or 6.7 percent, while property crime was down 42 incidents, or 9.3 percent.

The county's only criminal homicide for 2010 was that of Rouse, who was shot while answering an armed robbery call in December.