The goal was set by Mayor Bill Campbell in 1997, when he promised to have 2,000 officers by the year 2000. He didn't reach it, but his successors maintained it as a goal.
In some years, such as 2008 and 2009, the city went in the opposite direction, with officers retiring or resigning faster than recruits got trained.
That has changed since 2010, with 674 coming in and 376 leaving. The police department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (bit.ly/SqI8ab) that it now has 1,925 officers, although that includes 160 recruits who are being trained or are waiting to go to the police academy.
Police Chief George Turner said the Atlanta Police Department has the most manpower in its history.
Mayor Kasim Reed predicts Atlanta will hit the 2,000 goal by June 30, 2013. That would coincide with his re-election effort.
Some veteran officers say the recruitment has left the city with a force that is largely inexperienced. The newspaper reported that a third of the force has less than three years' experience wearing a gun belt.
Sgt. D'Andrea Price, a 21-year veteran who trains at the police academy, sees a different kind of recruit coming in than in the past.
"These kids did not play outside until the streetlights came on like we did; they're video kids," she said. "They weren't into team sports. They are more loners. But they are smarter and more educated than we were."
Ken Allen, president of the department's chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and a 27-year veteran of the force, said many of the younger officers are looking for a steady paycheck and may not look at a career in the department. He said the number of officers leaving could increase when the economy picks up.
"There are a lot of people with applications out somewhere and who want to leave," he said.