Acworth Police seek more resources from city council

Acworth City Hall in article about Baker Road annexationAcworth City Hall sign (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

by Arielle Robinson

Acworth’s Police Department approached the mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday evening, requesting the board adjust their fiscal year 2022 budget to pay for added positions to the department.

During the past few weeks, the city council has been working on its budget for FY 2022, which is set to begin Oct. 1, 2021.

These sessions have consisted of the heads of different city departments requesting the board fund different aspects of their department. There will be more sessions focusing on the budget in the coming weeks.

Acworth PD is looking to add more personnel to three areas of the department — the Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Operations Unit and community affairs.

Acworth Police Chief Wayne Dennard told the board that out of all personnel issues affecting the department, the CID should receive the most attention.

“Those guys are stretched,” Dennard said. “We’ve got currently five sworn personnel in there and that includes the lieutenant that’s running the unit, so that actually puts you down to four detectives.”

The department is seeking $90,000 for new detective positions.

Acworth’s CID is responsible for investigating serious and violent crimes like homicide, rape, crimes against children and armed robbery.

The four officers work a full-time schedule investigating these cases.

The CID handles hundreds of cases per year, Dennard said.

In 2019, the division was assigned 648 cases. Last year, they handled 585 cases.

In addition to investigating violent crimes, CID officers are also responsible for conducting internal checks and working with the Cobb County District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement departments to prepare court cases.

Dennard also explained that the department’s Special Operations Unit could use monetary assistance to hire more people in this area as well.

Acworth PD is seeking $93,000 to add to their Special Operations Unit.

Acworth’s Special Operations Unit is responsible for supporting police officers on patrol and the CID, according to Acworth PD’s website.

The K-9, park patrol and narcotics divisions make up Special Operations.

When park patrol officers are not monitoring Acworth parks and special events the city hosts, they are enforcing traffic laws.

As governments are opening their cities back up and Acworth continues to develop and expand its parks, Dennard said it was “critical” that more personnel be added to Special Operations.

Additionally, to create a stronger relationship between Acworth PD and residents, the department is seeking to expand its reach into the community.

Dennard would like $86,000 to go toward expanding the police’s engagement with the community.

Engagement may include interacting with schools, churches and hosting outdoor cooking events.

Another aspect of community affairs is managing social media.

Dennard said he does not feel that Acworth PD is up to speed with social media engagement and would like to improve that.

He said that Acworth PD is facing overall personnel shortages.

Dennard said the department as a whole is short three police officers.

With regard to Acworth’s Detention Center, two officers working for the jail have left with a third one in the process of joining another police department.

Normally, three people work shifts at the jail, but jail staffing is short so there are two-man shifts patrolling the jail and those incarcerated in it. The department has patrol officers that jail staff can call for backup.

Fourteen people are incarcerated in the Acworth Detention Center as of Monday, Dennard said.

The police chief also stated that the number of people incarcerated has slowly been growing over the past few months.

A minimum of three officers should be working the jail, Dennard said.

Compared to Marietta Police Department and Kennesaw Police Department, the former faces personnel shortages of around 15 police officers while the latter is around six short.

Dennard confirmed that adding more personnel would mean adding more vehicles but the department has other ways of getting that money besides requesting the city fund it.

In total, Acworth PD has requested $6,396,864 of the city’s FY 2022 budget be allocated to them. This is up from the $5,672,887 budget the department had in FY 2021.

All of the proposals the police chief made are just that at the moment — proposals.

The board still has to approve the requests, which likely will not be done until next month.

To view the overall FY 2022 budget proposals for the police and other departments around Acworth, click here.

Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She also freelances for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and is the former president of KSU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as well as a former CNN intern. She enjoys music, reading, and live shows.