The city of Atlanta Oct. 1 announced a police pay increase and a plan to address the officers comparatively low salaries.

A study of Atlanta Police Department pay completed in July found that its salaries lagged behind many departments of similar and surrounding cities. Police salaries were previously raised by 3.1 percent in the city’s 2018 budget, but the study determined that was not enough.

The plan announced by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms seeks to bring Atlanta’s pay up to par in stages.

By January 2019, the city will invest an additional $10 million for police pay, according to the release. Police Chief Erika Shields said at a press conference that these funds would bring yearly salaries up by $10,000, raising starting officer pay from $40,000 to $50,000.

“Have no doubt, this will make a difference,” Shields said at the press conference, which was streamed live.

By July 2019, patrolling police and senior police officers pay is planned to meet the competitive benchmark identified in the compensation study, which varies based on rank. By the completion of the plan in 2021, all ranks are planned meet the benchmark and pay is expected to be raised by 30 percent, Bottoms said.

The city will revisit public safety compensation every two years to ensure the Atlanta Police Department remains competitive, according to the release.

The low salaries have caused a police officer shortage in Atlanta, contributing to the decision for Buckhead’s Zone 2 to make responding to shoplifting calls a low priority.

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