Leave it to the Atlanta Police Department to give me more grey hair, something to write about or maybe just vent. It seems the Atlanta Police Department is in what is known in the world of sports as a "prolonged slump."

Generally, in major league baseball when a prolonged slump gets too long, the President of the ball club fires the manager. In the case of Atlanta, the manager is the Chief of the Atlanta Police Department George Turner and the President is Mayor Kasim Reed.

Mayor Reed appointed Turner to his position after being less than honest during his campaign for mayor by saying he was going to do a national search and get the best person for the job in the country.

Religion blog: ‘To Serve and Protect’

Chief Turner was the mayor’s man. Really? This choice was best in the entire country? Really?

The Ramage Report,” Atlanta’s well-informed commentary on policy and politics noted in an article from Feb. 12, 2011, as Mayor Reed was getting ready to do a national TV interview:

Reed’s “police year,” however, began in January 2010 when he appointed former Deputy Chief George Turner as interim police chief with the obvious goal of shoehorning him into the chief’s job—something Reed eventually accomplished by overruling the citizen committee he had appointed to choose Atlanta’s next police chief.

The New York and Washington-based journalists on “Meet the Press” won’t trouble themselves with Atlanta’s public safety concerns. The show focuses on national and world issues and its regular guest journalists make their careers by identifying rising figures on the national political scene. It is no accident that one so often hears them say “Well, as I pointed out, you may recall, back in…” Reed has carefully positioned himself as a rising star in the national Democratic Party. Meet the Press will look more at Reed’s affinity with Gold Dome conservatives—regardless of his long track record of carrying water for the Democrats—than at the effects of hiked permit and parking fees on small local businesses. These talking heads think in terms of ideology, facts be damned, and that is one reason that American politics has become a matter of branding rather than a matter of public service.

They certainly won’t consider the fruit that Reed’s underhanded manipulation of the police chief search has produced.

But for Atlantans, that fruit is undeniable. For the past year Atlanta’s taxpayers have dug into their shrinking bank accounts and shelled out cash for lawsuit after lawsuit filed against the police department: The $1 million-plus lawsuit over the Eagle raid developed almost entirely under Reed despite the raid itself having been carried out under his predecessor; the relatively frugal $40,000 lawsuit over police illegally taking a cell phone from a resident grew out of an incident that happened several months into Turner’s interim tenure; and another lawsuit, this one over officers unlawfully strip searching citizens during a traffic stop, is on tap. And there are others in the pipeline.

Though there are certainly some cops who are simply stupid and evil, at some point we must face the fact that these lawsuits were not a matter of a rogue cop here and there. The reality of the APD is that it is a rogue organization with intelligent, well-trained, ethical police officers who do their jobs not because of the department but in spite of it. They work, to the point of exhaustion, for little pay, without needed equipment or support, under stress generated by supervisors and command staff who promote an environment of ass-covering to the detriment of the citizens’ safety. Cops with about 10 years or more on the force are painfully aware that most of their co-workers are clueless when it comes to criminal procedure. They are also aware that an alarming number of their co-workers are little more than criminals themselves.”

That was just a year into the loosing streak of the APD.  Here we are 7 months further along and the Eagle mess is still not settled.  Further those officers who committed criminal offences have not been arrested and charged for their crimes.

Like the “gift that keeps on giving” a 2nd lawsuit has been or will be filed soon. The outcome of this lawsuit is sure to once again cost Atlanta taxpayers a boatload of money.

Within the past week or two we have also been let in on a really big secret.  Many of the officers of the APD on the streets making arrests, supposedly protecting us from all from the dangerous homeless, the ever present prostitutes, those damn sex driven queers and those awful people who pee outside (tongue firmly in cheek) lack the authority to make those or any arrests because they have not met state requirements for certification.

When the story broke the Atlanta Journal Constitution in an on-line article from August 18th wrote:

The Atlanta Police Department is still reviewing records but already has found that dozens of officers lacked the authority to make arrests because they had not met state requirements for training.

The APD administration’s failures have just compromised a ton of criminal convictions and pending cases,” said a past president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Christine A. Koehler. “Somebody’s not doing what they are supposed to be doing over there. … They have big problems.

At least 51 APD officers had not received the state-required 20 hours of training per year, and that meant they could not make arrests. Maj. Jeff Glazier, commander of the Atlanta police training academy, said Thursday that more APD officers will likely be found deficient as agency investigators still have about 600 files to review — or about one-third of the force.

Chief Turner says it is not his fault. Really? Really? Who the hell is in charge at the APD if it is not the Chief?

Adding further fuel to the fire we have this little gem reported by Copwatch of East Atlanta which according to their website is a group of civilians organized to protect our communities from police abuse. They monitor police stops, using video cameras to document any brutality or violation of rights. They also educate people about their rights and how to file complaints about mistreatment by the police:

Nearly a dozen officers and medics were surrounding a man who was lying on the street in handcuffs and appeared to be writhing in pain.

Officers poured water on the man’s face and made comments suggesting police had pepper sprayed him earlier.

Officers asked us to step back, and we complied. However they then began to move us even further down the block, using up to four officers and their bicycles to obstruct our view of the person in custody. Officer Basile, told us that it was illegal for us to film the man on the ground. When we asked if he was ordering us to stop filming, Basile replied “yes”.

An ambulance arrived and further obstructed our view, so we moved to the other side of the street. The four officers followed us, continuing to obstruct our view and attempt to intimidate us. At one point, officer T. Dziamba asked if we had media credentials and told us to stop filming if we didn’t.

Although we were pushed to the end of the block, other civilians were allowed to walk through the scene.

As a result of a lawsuit brought by Copwatch, APD now has an official policy of not interfering with civilians recording police. A recent federal ruling reinforces that right. However as this report shows, police on the street are still determined to use intimidation, interference, and lies to prevent the public from seeing what they do.”

Then of course if you live in and around midtown, it appears the APD has given up law enforcement to Midtown Ponce Security Alliance as their newsletter shows;

During the early morning hours of August 31st, MPSA Patrol responded to a 911 call about an apparently unconscious person in the rear of a property in the 700 block of Piedmont, and found a white male lying face down near a dumpster.

Make sure you read this quote closely and ask yourself a question; since when does a non-profit security company answer 911 calls?  In fact if you read their webpage it reads like they run the operation as if it is a bona fide police force.

Let us not forget the gay men who were cutting through Piedmont Park after spending an evening at Blake’s who were roughed up and arrested by APD.

It should also be mentioned here about the kids who are routinely hassled by APD at Piedmont Park for doing nothing more then dancing…really? For dancing?

Yes, we all know the APD is understaffed and under paid and that is never good for moral or encouraging a smooth operation.  However, one would think the Police Chief would be spending his time trying to fix this challenge, however it appears like many other happening within the APD this is not his fault.

So why the reader might be asking at this point is a pastor who is writing a faith blog writing about this?

The answer is simple.  The sworn duty of the APD is to “serve and protect” the citizens of Atlanta.  It is far too obvious from these brief examples our city is neither being served nor protected by APD.  One only needs to read the 2 reports issued concerning the Eagle raid to see and understand our tax dollars are going to an agency that is out of control.

In fact if you read these reports and are not worried about what might happen should you come in contact with APD I respectfully say you are naïve.

We are coming up on the 2-year anniversary of that raid and precious little has been done to correct the situation.

Read what Copwatch of East Atlanta is reporting and it becomes painfully obvious APD does not want to be held accountable for their actions.

What is happening within the APD is without good ethics and is an immoral handling of the power given to them by the citizens of our community.

I think my friend Art Izzard summed it best when he said on his Facebook page:

Seriously, we’ve had a 92 year old woman shot to death in her living room. Patrons at the Eagle have had their civil rights violated. Men have had cavity searches performed on them in public. 85 officers don’t even have the certification required to perform their duties. Now we learn the APD has denied employment to a HIV+ applicant who was otherwise qualified. How low can this department stoop and for how long will the citizens of Atlanta foot the bill for the never ending lawsuits and settlements?

Yes how long? How long before the community as a whole and in vast numbers begins to express it’s outrage over the chaos that is APD. How long before we figure out that like in baseball you can’t fire the whole team but you can fire the manager — in this case the chief of police.

So, here are the questions that are begging for an answer: How many more lawsuits have to be brought to court? How many more unanswered 911 calls? How many more 911 one calls being answered by some other non-profit agency rather then APD? How many more wrong establishments being raided, wrong homes being invaded or citizens bullied? How many more officers do we have to find without proper certification?

How much more will we take before the Mayor of this city hears a unison cry from the people; Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho this police chief has got to go!


Rev. Paul M. Turner is the Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta. For more information, please visit www.gentlespirit.org or e-mail info@gentlespirit.org.