Flowery Branch is adding the first officer to its police force since the opening of Stonebridge Village shopping center in 2007.
After hearing pleas from Chief David Spillers Thursday night, City Council not only voted to add the officer but pledged to look at adding another officer next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
“And the thing I’d also like to see is, if we can’t come up with two (officers), is to try to increase the pay for the police officers,” Councilman Joe Anglin said.
“I think one of the big problems we have with the attrition (on the force) is (the pay),” he added.
Anglin added: “It might be there might be a year where police officers get the raise and some other city staff do not get that pay.”
Mayor Mike Miller said, “I’ve been pushing for an extra police officer for about four budgets now. I’d like to see us add an additional one (next fiscal year).”
Spillers gave a lengthy presentation on his department’s responsibilities, needs and issues.
“Without receiving this (additional) position, it makes it impossible to have adequate backup for officers” when certain things occur, such as absences due to sickness or required training, he said in his presentation.
The force has 13 certified officers, including Spillers, with two officers having recently resigned and another one out with injuries.
Because of personnel issues, a serious wreck on Interstate 985 could delay response to another call.
“If your home is broken into (during that time), we’re not coming, because we’re out on I-985 dealing with significant injuries,” Spillers said. “That (breakin) call’s going to have to be put in a standby mode.”
The chief said Flowery Branch doesn’t have much “home-grown, serious crime.”
“The majority of our felony arrests are from Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton counties,” Spillers said. “They choose to come here because they call this ‘sleepytown’ and they think they’re going to get away with it.”
In other business, the council gave its final OK to a rezoning ordinance for Sterling on the Lake that primarily affects the subdivision’s road master plan. The move would create two four-way stops on Capitola Farm Road, including one at Lake Sterling Boulevard.
There is no land use change, as in the size of the development or the number of units that can be built.
Currently, there are 900 homes built within the Newland Communities development approved for 2,000 units on the 1,000-acre property off Spout Springs Road.