The Lithonia Police Department has grown from five officers to 13 and it did not cost the city a penny.
The city has signed on eight reserve officers to assist the police department’s five fulltime officers.
“We will be more visible,” said acting Police Chief Washington Varnum.
“This will provide additional coverage for the city and increase the presence of police as a way of expanding public safety to the community,” said Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson.
Jackson said the city would consider increasing the number of fulltime police officers if the city’s revenue increases.
“Reserve officers are a way of addressing the public safety needs that we have without having a significant financial impact,” Jackson said.
The reserve officers have prior experience at police departments in DeKalb, East Point, Pine Lake and Doraville.
All of the officers have their Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (POST) certification and will work at least 16 hours per month, Varnum said.
Reserve officers are not paid, Varnum said.
Most work as reserve officers because they are able to demand a minimum $25 per hour officers’ pay when they work security guard jobs, Varnum said.
Varnum said he is trying to ensure that the city has two to three officers patrolling at any given time.
“Working with one officer on the street is a big liability,” Varnum said.
Varnum said he believes that there have been times when a “false crime” has been reported on one side of the city to lure the officer on patrol away from the other part of town where an actual crime is in progress.
The reserve officers “will help us better patrol the city,” Varnum said.
The officers will be in place before the usual summer spike in crime, Varnum said.
Crime is “going to increase through the roof once kids get out of school,” Varnum said. “It’s sad, but it’s true.”