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City of Savannah Marketing and Communications

Posted on: August 1, 2022

Savannah invests in public safety wage increases

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Savannah invests in public safety wage increases

Police retention, referral and lateral entry programs also implemented

SAVANNAH (Aug. 1) – Over the weekend, the City of Savannah implemented substantial investments in public safety, including pay increases, retention bonuses, referral bonuses and a lateral entry program. The pay increases mean a $50,000 starting salary for Savannah police officers and a $48,000 starting salary for Savannah firefighters, both up from a previous starting salary of $44,000. These initiatives represent nearly $4.3 million in additional annual investments in public safety, putting Savannah’s public safety departments in the top 5% in pay among agencies in Georgia.


“This is an investment not only in those who we hope to add to our public safety team but also in making sure the folks on our team now are paid a wage commensurate with their commitment to our city,” said Joseph A. Melder, City Manager. “Remaining competitive in the market is key and so is showing those who serve our community that we appreciate the hard work they put in.”


Savannah Police Department ranks of officer, corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant all saw pay increases this past weekend. As a supplement to these higher starting salaries, the following are also being implemented:

  • $5,000 new hire sign-on bonus
  • 2-year $5,000 retention incentive
  • $7,500 lateral entry sign-on bonus
  • Lateral entry program for certified candidates to join SPD and be compensated based on years of prior law enforcement experience
  • Referral bonus program to compensate officers for referring new hires


“The investment that our city has made into Savannah's public safety personnel is monumental,” said Lenny Gunther, Interim Chief of Police. “It’s no secret that currently it has become difficult to add to our rank and file. The Public Safety recruitment and retention pay adjustment has provided the Savannah Police Department with a great opportunity to recruit stellar candidates and retain the dedicated officers already on the force.” 


In Savannah Fire, the new investments include upward adjustments to the starting salaries of all advanced firefighters, fire engineers, fire investigators and fire prevention inspectors.


“The City of Savannah is committed to creating and maintaining a fire department that can mitigate all hazards within the city,” said Elzie Kitchen, Interim Fire Chief. “An essential part of this commitment is Savannah’s ability to provide our firefighters with the compensation, benefits, support, and resources needed to answer the call continuously. With the public safety pay increases, Savannah Fire can improve its hiring process competitiveness, while ensuring its firefighters have the skills to mitigate hazards.”


To join Savannah Police or Savannah Fire, visit

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