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Former police chief erects billboard in Atlanta aimed at recruiting police for Louisville

There's a billboard with a familiar face in downtown Atlanta aimed at recruiting police officers in another state.

ATLANTA — A new billboard in downtown Atlanta is aiming to recruit police officers to another state.

Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields — the former Atlanta Police chief — is calling for officers to join her force in Kentucky.

“Atlanta for me was top of the list," Shields said. "What I know about the Atlanta Police Department is the officers are well-trained, and it's very diverse.”

The billboard, which sits cradled between buildings nearby Atlanta City Hall, shows Shields with a wide grin standing in front of the Louisville skyline and a message that reads, "Join us in Louisville and Laterals Welcome."

“Well, ironically, I used to drive that way to work almost every day, and it felt like for months that I looked at that billboard and saw Georgia State Patrol recruiting," Shields said. 

Shields stepped down from her position in the capital of the Peach State in June of 2020 after three and a half years amid protests for Black Lives in Atlanta and across the nation. Her resignation came following the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot.

She later took over in Louisville, assuming the same role in January of 2021.

Louisville Metro Police Department posted a message on Twitter saying they would have recruiters in Atlanta next week looking for lateral officers or new for their classes this summer.

The department is offering an $8,000 hiring bonus and a $3,000 relocation incentive for any new officers.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Atlanta Police Department issued a statement in response to the billboard, saying hiring among law enforcement agencies has become competitive. The department is currently more than 400 officers short and starting numerous academics to get new officers.

“We're in a job market. We're competing for this," Shields said. "We're vying for the same employees, and it's just I don't think it's reasonable to think that policing will operate any differently than any profession where they're trying to make a strong business model.”

The Louisville Metro Police Department is also recruiting on the radio in Atlanta and on social media. A tweet on the department's page indicates recruiters will be in Midtown Atlanta from March 23rd through March 27th. 

Here's the full statement from APD:

"Hiring among law enforcement agencies has become competitive.  Many departments are well aware that the Atlanta Police Department is a first-class agency that provides top tier training which allows us to have some of the best officers in the nation. Additionally, we’re looking forward to adding more capable women and men to our department; as we remain dedicated to our oath of protecting and serving the great citizens of Atlanta."


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