Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms acknowledged that police morale is “down ten-fold” in the city Wednesday night after dozens of officers reportedly called in sick or refused to leave their precincts following a decision by the Fulton County district attorney to charge officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
She also begged police to honor their commitment to their community and return to patrol.
“I think ours is down ten-fold,” Bottoms told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in regard to Atlanta PD’s department morale. “This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta and with the tragedy of Mr. Brooks, and then on top of that the excessive force charges that were brought against the officers involved with the college students, there’s a lot happening in our city, and the police officers are receiving the brunt of it quite frankly.”
She went on to claim that the Atlanta city government has “a great working relationship with police” and that the issues with morale were temporary.
“In fact, our officers were given a historic pay raise by our administration, and it was so our officers wouldn’t have to work three jobs and be fatigued so that they could afford to live in the city of Atlanta, so they wouldn’t be resentful about policing our streets so that we could have the best to choose from on our force,” Bottoms told Cuomo. “We expect that our officers will keep their commitment to our communities.”
Some Atlanta police officers refused to report for the night shift Wednesday, The Daily Wire reported Wednesday night, after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced that prosecutors were seeking a harsh penalty against Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice in the back following an intense confrontation. The DA’s announcement was the second such announcement in recent weeks, leaving many officers reportedly convinced that the DA was targeting them directly.
In response, officers in the Atlanta Police Department were “reportedly not responding to calls in multiple zones” Wednesday night.
“Atlanta police officers are not responding to calls in three of the department’s six zones,” CNN reported late Wednesday “Atlanta police officers each patrol one of six zones covering some 500,000 residents who live in the city limits. They also cover Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.”
Atlanta police denied that officers had organized a walkout, but Georgia police union officials appeared to confirm reports of a “blue flu.”
“The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call-outs with the oncoming shift,” Atlanta PD said Wednesday. “We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents.”
Bottoms echoed that sentiment in her interview.
We do have enough officers to cover us through the night,” she said. “Our streets won’t be any less safe because of the number of officers who called out, but it is just my hope again that our officers will remember the commitment that they made when they held up their hand and they were sworn in as police officers.”
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