‘Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Atlanta’s interim police chief admitted on Friday that a growing number of police officers are calling in sick and refusing to work in response to the city’s decision to press charges against one of their colleagues.
Several officers called in sick on Wednesday after a district attorney announced felony charges against Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks last weekend after Brooks began to attack Rolfe and grab his Taser.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms denied reports that Atlanta officers are leaving en masse, but Interim Chief Rodney Bryant, who stepped in after the Brooks shooting, acknowledged to the Associated Press that many in his department “feel abandoned.”
“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Bryant said of the officers. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”
Bryant insisted that the department has enough officers still on duty to adequately field emergency calls. But CNN reported earlier this week that three of the city’s six zones were being completely neglected as a direct result of increased call-outs.
In one 911 audio obtained by 11Alive, an officer can be heard saying, “We’re having our unit[s] come back to the main. We are not answering 911 calls right now due to personnel issues. If you can reach out to other zones, or I will have them assist with our pending.”
Still, it’s unclear exactly how many officers have called in sick. What we do know is that there’s little direction from Bryant or the new leadership, according to retired Police Major K.D. Johnson.
“The officers I’ve spoken to say they have no direction from the new leadership and that’s a concern because they need to know who’s got their back,” Johnson said. “When the police officers don’t know what to do, they are just going to sit and do nothing and the public is going to be at risk.”