Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chief Turner on proposed Zone 5 beat changes: 'No plans' to eliminate foot patrols

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Police Chief George Turner
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner today said the department has no plans to alter its ground-level patrols in the bustling zone that includes such neighborhoods as Midtown, downtown, Castleberry Hill and the Old Fourth Ward. A late April email from Major Khirus Williams, Zone 5's soon-to-be-former commander, sparked concern among residents that the successful community-oriented policing they saw during the APD's veteran term would be a thing of the past. Said Turner:

A great deal has been written and said recently concerning changes supposedly being considered for police resources in Zone 5’s Midtown precinct. It is vital that stakeholders in Midtown — business and residential — are receiving accurate information on the Atlanta Police Department’s plans to ensure the highest levels of safety and security are maintained.

The department is discussing ideas so that mobile patrols (officers in cars) adequately cover Zone 5, ensuring our ability to quickly respond to 911 calls at all times. However, there are no plans by the Atlanta Police Department to do away with officer patrols on foot, bicycle, motorcycle and Segway. Those important, ground-level patrols will continue.

Mayor Reed’s commitment to continue increasing the size of the department, coupled with the assignment on Wednesday of several new officers from the most recent police recruit class will allow the department to make both of those priorities possible.

Zone 5 will continue to be policed with the same vigor and professionalism that it always has. Its vibrant, diverse mix of businesses and residents is far too important to the city’s overall well-being to allow any setbacks in public safety. It simply will not happen. I will soon appoint a new commander for the zone who will be able, articulate, energetic and accountable to me and to the citizens whom he or she will serve.

APD declined to elaborate on Williams' claims that APD brass forced him into retirement after he urged residents to contact Chief Turner about a deputy's proposal to change patrols in the area. Residents are now calling for Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta City Council and APD brass to convene a meeting to discuss the move.

"We don’t discuss personnel matters,” an APD spokesman told CL on Thursday evening.

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