‘Why would you put your officer in Fulton County and take the chance of this happening?’…
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Several Atlanta police officers called in sick this week and refused to show up to work in protest of the police department’s decision to fire the officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks.
The Atlanta Police Department hasn’t specified how many officers called out during a shift change on Wednesday, but admitted that there were a “higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift.”
Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) June 18, 2020
The department was disputing reports that Atlanta officers were “walking off the job, not responding to calls unless backup is needed, and going silent on the radios.”
NEW: ATL Police Union spokeman Vince Champion tells me that officers around the city are protesting the charges announced against officers Rolfe and Brosnan. He says they’re walking off the job, not responding to calls unless backup is needed, and going silent on the radios.
— Charlie Gile (@CharlieGileNBC) June 18, 2020
The department isn’t facing any such problem, said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who insisted that the department still has “enough officers to cover us through the night.”
CNN, however, also reported that three of Atlanta’s six zones simply stopped responding to calls.
The Atlanta Police Department has been in turmoil since last week when former officer Garrett Rolfe shot Brooks during a fight following a field sobriety test. Brooks reportedly grabbed Rolfe’s taser and attempted to use it against the officers, but was shot while he ran. Atlanta cops have defended Rolfe’s actions as a lawful use of force, since Brooks posed a legitimate threat to the officer’s safety.
Bottoms, however, argued that Rolfe did not have the authority to shoot Brooks and called for his immediate termination. On top of that, at the Fulton County district attorney announced this week that Rolfe would face a felony murder charge among 11 others. If convicted, he could face life in prison, life without parole, or the death penalty, according to District Attorney Paul Howard Jr.
Vince Champion, the regional director for an Atlanta police union, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the police department is trying to cover its tracks. The department can’t even get help from adjacent law enforcement agencies, he said. And after what happened to Rolfe, it’s not hard to understand why, Champion added.
“Why would you put your officer in Fulton County and take the chance of this happening?” Champion said. “You have an officer who just heard what Paul Howard said, saying he’s going to be in prison for the rest of his life or put to death, and now he’s got to surrender.”
Bottoms admitted that morale among officers is at an all-time low, but said that the city has agreed to offer officers a significant raise to convince them to come back to work.
“Across the country, morale is down with police departments, and I think ours is down tenfold,” she said.