O’Brien Atkinson: Pittman honored his public safety commitments
Steuart Pittman has once again won the approval of our county’s police, fire and teachers’ unions. Continued progress and the policies adopted by the Pittman administration will greatly benefit our county, its employees and its residents.
Before Pittman took office, the mantra of “doing more with less” and enacting cuts to county government was not working. While previous administrations cut police funding, the Pittman County Executive has consistently improved funding for our police department. County facilities were crumbling and the only thing lower than our dismal staffing level was our morale.
Pittman has invested in our police force while keeping our tax rates among the lowest in the state. He promised us four years ago that he would, and he did.
Public polls have shown that our citizens want more police officers and Pittman continues to hire officers by making compensation more competitive and improving police facilities, training and equipment. He increased the actual numbers unlike the last administration. His predecessor added new positions and claimed to increase manpower, but never hired the officers to fill them. It was misleading and dangerous. There were only 672 sworn police officers on the force when Pittman took office. If you include the recruits who were at the academy, training to become police officers, the number was 692. Our authorized strength at the time was 745, and including the 20 academy recruits, we had 53 positions. vacant.
By April of last year, we had reached 773 agents. That’s 101 new sworn police officers. Our department hired a record number of police officers under the Pittman administration in 2019 and 2020 and we have achieved record staffing levels. We still lack the manpower we need, but we are making great progress.
In nearly every forum, Pittman reminds people of his core belief: “Public safety is the most sacred obligation of government.” In his final county budget speech, he said, “Instead of continuing the last administration’s efforts to weaken the police, fire and custody unions, we listened to them, resolved grievances with them and found common ground. Instead of paying lawyers to represent us in arbitration, we pay first responders a fair wage and improve conditions so they can improve service. It saves lives. Despite the fact that it becomes more difficult every day to recruit and retain good officers, Pittman has demonstrated his dedication to continuing the positive momentum we have to improve our public safety services.
The Pittman administration created a positive new culture in county government. It focuses on improving services provided to residents by improving relations with the county workforce. He surrounded himself with people who work tirelessly and fearlessly to get things done. When problems arise, we solve them together. Department heads, like our Chief of Police, Amal Awad, have been carefully selected for their ability to work collaboratively, communicate professionally, and find common ground and mutually beneficial solutions to the complex issues we face. faced every day. We appreciate the positive new direction of the county and our police department under Pittman’s leadership.
Your county’s police force is better staffed, better trained and better equipped than it was four years ago. We know that with Pittman in power, we can say the same in four years. Simply put, our Fraternal Order of Police supports Steuart Pittman because Steuart Pittman supports our county police officers.
Cpl. O’Brien Atkinson is president of the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.