The damage the department did when it improperly raided the Atlanta Eagle in September 2009 still seemed nearly irreparable. Plus, Powell was replacing former liaison Dani Lee Harris, who was pushed out of the position without explanation, though she claims is was for filing an OPS complaint against a superior.
Just shy of her two year anniversary on the job, the APD announced yesterday that Powell was moving on and taking a position with the department's Background & Recruitment Unit. She's being replaced by former Zone 5 patrol officer Kristin Knight. She'll join liaison Brian Sharp, who was hired in September 2010.
It was around that time we interviewed Powell for a cover story about a high-profile gay bashing in Piedmont Park and how it presented an opportunity for healing between the cops and the LGBT community. She discussed the challenge of basically being the sole member of a one-woman unit assigned to mend a cavernous rift:
"When I first came on in May, it was a challenge," Powell says. "But, what the department's been doing is continuing to get me out there in the community and build that relationship, build that trust back. The only way you're gonna do it is for me to get out there and do the legwork. Are we there yet? No. But since May I think we've come a short distance, but a positive difference."
Josh Noblitt, a pastor and a victim in the Piedmont Park attack, praised Powell's attentiveness to his case, saying she'd been "awesome," adding, "I mean, she sat with me in court."
A little bit about your new LGBT liaison ...
Knight, a native of Milford, Connecticut, joined the department in 2005 and worked as a patrol officer in Zone 5, covering Downtown and Midtown. Last year, Knight joined the department’s Community Liaison Unit in the Community Oriented Policing Section, serving Zone 5.
“I’m looking forward to this wonderful and challenging opportunity to serve as a link between the LGBT community and the brave men and women of the Atlanta Police Department,” Officer Knight said. “As a proud member of both the gay community and the APD, I will take great pride and care in ensuring we continue our mutual respect and understanding. The LGBT liaisons are instrumental in helping foster those partnerships that are at the core of our mission here at APD.”
Prior to joining APD, Knight worked briefly with the Transportation Security Administration. Previously, she worked in the restaurant business and joined APD when she was 23. Officer Knight moved to Atlanta to attend
Clark Atlanta University. She is now working to complete her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Saint Leo University.
Tyler Perry emerged from a recent traffic stop in Atlanta believing he was the victim of racial profiling.
Now, as Fresh Loaf commenters demonstrated, there are a couple of ways the facts behind Perry's bible-length account of what happened can be interpreted:
— Tyler Perry made an illegal turn, offered a bizarre explanation — "he has to be sure he isn't being followed" — and is annoyed that he was given the third degree because the two white officers who stopped him didn't recognize his famous face.
— The police were reactionary and rude and didn't give Perry an opportunity to explain himself because he's black.
When our original post went up on Monday, it was unclear for which local police department the officers involved in the traffic stop worked. The Atlanta Police Department has since confirmed they were APD officers. They released the following statement ...
"The Atlanta Police Department has confirmed that two officers recently encountered Mr. Tyler Perry during a traffic stop. Mr. Perry's concerns, as recently expressed by him publicly, will be the basis for referral of the matter to the department's Office of Professional Standards. OPS has opened an investigation to determine if Mr. Perry's claims can be substantiated, and whether any departmental policies or procedures were violated during the stop."
Stay tuned ...
But according to a long narrative he posted on his Facebook page yesterday, Perry was not recognized by a couple of white police officers during a recent traffic stop. He says he believes he was racially profiled, and then let go once a black officer showed up and told the white officers who he was.
It's unclear in the narrative by which local police department he was pulled over — since he was on his way to the airport, there are a few different jurisdictions he might have been in — but the APD says it's is looking into whether its officers were involved.
Here's Perry's story, edited (just barely) for length ...
A few days before President Obama was supposed to speak at my studio, I was leaving the studio, headed to the airport. Most times when I leave the studio I have an unmarked escort. Other times I constantly check in my rearview mirror to be sure that I'm not being followed. It's a safety precaution that my security team taught me.
As I got to an intersection, I made a left turn from the right lane and was pulled over by two police officers. I pulled the car over and put it in park. Then, I let the window down and sat in the car waiting for the officer. The officer came up to the driver's door and said that I made an illegal turn. I said, "I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I'm not being followed." He said, "Why do you think someone would be following you?" Before I could answer him, I heard a hard banging coming from the passenger window. I had never been in this position before so I asked the officer who was at my window what was going on and why is someone banging on the window like that. He said, "let your window down, let your window down. Your windows are tinted." As I let down the passenger window, there was another officer standing on the passenger side of the car. He said, "what is wrong with you?" The other officer said to him, "He thinks he's being followed." Then, the second officer said, "why do you think someone is following you? What is wrong with you?"
Before I could answer the officer on the passenger side, the one on the driver's side had reached into the car and started pulling on the switch that turns the car on and off, saying, "Put your foot on the brake, put your foot on the brake!" I was so confused as to what he was doing, or what he thought he was doing. It looked like he was trying to pull the switch out of the dashboard. I finally realized that he thought that switch was the key, so I told him that it wasn't the key he was grabbing. I reached down into the cup holder to get the key, not realizing that the key had a black leather strap on it.
As I grabbed it they both tensed up and I dropped it as I heard my mother's voice from when I was a little boy. My mother would always say to me, "if you get stopped by the police, especially if they are white policemen, you say "yes sir" and "no sir," and if they want to take you in, you go with them. Don't resist, you hear me? Don't make any quick moves, don't run, you just go."
[...] It wasn't until after I heard her voice that I realized that both of these officers were white. The officer on the driver's side continued to badger me, "why do you think someone is following you?" I then said, "I think you guys need to just write the ticket and do whatever you need to do." It was so hostile. I was so confused. It was happening so fast that I could easily see how this situation could get out of hand very quickly. I didn't feel safe at all. But one officer stopped his questioning and said, "We may not let you go. You think you're being followed, what's wrong with you?" At this point, I told him that I wanted to get out of the car. I wanted the passersby to see what was happening. As I stepped out of the car another officer pulled up in front of my car.
This officer was a black guy.
He took one look at me and had that "Oh No" look on his face. He immediately took both officers to the back of my car and spoke to them in a hushed tone. After that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back, very apologetic.
I said all of that to say this: do you see how quickly this could have turned for the worse? Now I know that there are many great officers, patrolmen and security guys out there. I am aware of that. But although we have made significant strides with racial profiling in this country, the world needs to know that we are still being racially profiled [...]
Perry goes on to discuss both the Trayvon Martin case, and another Fla. case in which a black man and a Mexican man went missing after they were placed under arrest by a police officer in Naples.
At the moment, 19,487 people have commented on the post and 109,609 people have "liked" it.
Here are the details ...
As part of the settlement, [the plaintiffs' attorney Dan] Grossman also requested the Atlanta Police Department be mandated the police chief fire officers who destroy evidence in a civil case.
Several officers involved in the raid on Midtown gay bar the Atlanta Eagle on Sept. 10, 2009, were accused of destroying evidence but not fired.
"If an officer thinks, oh, well, I'll just get a three-day suspension for deleting cell phone records, then nothing keeps him or her from doing it," Grossman said.
A court order also mandated the city pay Grossman $25,000 in attorney's fees for working to ensure the APD implemented the policy changes mandated from the original lawsuit that resulted in a $1.025 million settlement.
That brings the total city payout for the raid up to $1.475 million.
— 73 percent: People who said they feel the police have a great deal or "some deal" (?) of a "positive presence" in their neighborhoods.
— 70 percent: People who said they feel very or somewhat safe "walking alone at night within a block or two" of where they live.
(Those percentages were the highest since 2003)
— 44 percent: People who said they have great deal of or complete confidence in the APD's ability to protect their neighborhoods.
(I mean, it's less than half, but they say that's the highest percentage in 10 years, so that's good?)
— 59 percent: People who rated the department “excellent” or “good” in terms of response times.
— 58 percent: People who say the department is good at enforcing speeding.
— 54 percent: People who believe the APD is doing an excellent or good job of curbing violent crime.
In recent months, CL has spoken to lots of people — in Southwest Atlanta in particular — who definitely aren't happy with the APD's response times, and many who've said they don't feel safe in their neighborhoods.
Mayor Reed says, “These results clearly show that my administration’s efforts to put public safety first are paying off. I believe putting more officers on the street improves visibility, which in turn reduces crime. We have hired almost 500 officers since I took office, and major crimes are down 22 percent compared to this time three years ago.”
Assuming lots of you didn't participate in the survey (Braun Research Inc. spoke with 600 people who have landlines), what are your thoughts?
In May 2010, Atlanta Police Officers pried their way into an Atlanta bar and restaurant. Once they'd gained entry, police detained all the bar's patrons and employees while the officers collected IDs, and performed background and warrant checks.
If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because this incident — which took place at Sanabella Restaurant & Lounge on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard — is remarkable like the raid that was carried out at the Atlanta Eagle in September 2009.
That incident cost the city more than a million dollars after it was determined that many of the officers involved had essentially trampled on Eagle patron's and employee's Fourth Amendment rights. This one will cost the city the not-insignificant sum of $144,000 for similar police actions if it's authorized by the City Council's public safety committee tomorrow.
According to a 2011 AJC piece, officers were responding to a report that the bar was serving alcohol after hours. An officer knocked and announced his presence, but individuals inside turned off the lights and refused to unlock the doors. The fire department was called to force entry and, ultimately, a bartender was arrested for selling alcohol on a Sunday. None of the bar patrons were arrested nor, presumably, were they suspected of committing any crime, in which case their detention would be unlawful.
The settlement is the result of mediation ordered by federal judge William S. Duffey (mediation that was conducted by another federal judge, Judge Willis B. Hunt). Incidentally (although, "incidentally" is probably the wrong word entirely), the plaintiffs in the Sanabella case were represented by Dan Grossman, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the Eagle Raid suit.
He declined to comment on the settlement.
These hearings are snoozy (thanks for sitting through it, Jim Burress!), but this is entertaining.
See, the officer in question, Jeremy Edwards, was issued a 10-day suspension — this is on top of his termination for untruthfulness — for making a discriminatory statement, namely, that he thought gay sex was violent.
Here's how he explained himself today:
"My response was, Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify as very violent."
He added, "My personal opinion [observing] any sexual act is violent, whether it's straight or gay."
OK, so it's not discriminatory because this guy thinks ALL sex is violent. I buy it.
The untruthfulness allegations had to do with Edwards' denial that he'd taken and/or emailed pictures he took during the raid. Basically, he says he misunderstood the question . He thought the investigators were asking whether he'd ever emailed the picture — to which he said no — not whether he'd ever taken the picture. The board will rule on Edwards' case within 30 days.
At 8 a.m. on Monday, they're hosting a job fair at Public Safety Headquarters downtown for "dedicated, community-minded individuals to join our ranks of sworn officers, and become part of our force for positive change in Atlanta."
Interviews and testing will begin promptly at 8:00 a.m., 226 Peachtree Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Please arrive dressed in business attire with a valid photo government-issued identification card. Anyone arriving after 8:00 a.m. will not be admitted. Please be prepared to be in attendance for at least six hours. Plan accordingly and come early. For additional information please see www.joinatlantapd.org
What, you might ask, will your priorities be as an APD officer. According to the release, they include, but aren't limited to, youth-related crime, domestic violence, and — wait, what's that? — "the perception of crime in Atlanta." GUYS. Again with the perception of crime stuff? C'mon.
In the wee hours of the morning next Tuesday, the Atlanta Police Department will roll out changes to the way the city's six zones — and the beats within them — are configured.
The point of the redesign was to more evenly distribute officer workloads and, in turn, improve 911 response times. Basically, what they did is add 12 beats (for a total of 78 beats citywide), and add new territory to certain zones and take it away from others.
Here are some highlights by zone (from an APD press release):
Zone 1 (Northwest Atlanta): I-20 was once the dividing line between Zone 1 and Zone 4 in Southwest Atlanta. Now, beginning at I-20 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard going westbound, MLK will represent the new dividing line between the new zones, with Zone 1 taking everything north of MLK.
Zone 2 (Northeast Atlanta): Picking up the Cheshire Bridge Road corridor and the Morningside neighborhood, areas that once before belonged to Zone 2.
(ED. NOTE: Spokesman Carlos Campos clarified that Cheshire Bridge and Morningside are currently in Zone 6, but were part of Zone 2 before that.)
Zone 3 (Southeast Atlanta): Picking up the Thomasville area once again from Zone 6; losing Grant Park neighborhood to Zone 6.
Zone 4 (Southwest Atlanta): Busy southwest quadrant of the zone that includes Greenbriar Mall is being split from two beats to four beats, making them more manageable for officers.
Zone 5 (Downtown/Midtown Atlanta): Losing the Old Fourth Ward area to Zone 6.
Zone 6 (Southeast Atlanta): Picking up Grant Park from Zone 3 and Old Fourth Ward from Zone 5. Losing the Thomasville area to Zone 3.
It was kind of shocking when CBS Atlanta reported that Mayor Kasim Reed's brother Tracy, a city employee, had been cruising around in a city-owned vehicle with a drivers license that had been suspended since 2006.
A couple days later, the purveyors of Tough Questions™ released a dash cam video of the Zone 4 Major showing up to Reed's traffic stop (he had an expired tag, too), chatting with him and sending him on his way. Then we were shocked. Especially because Reed also had a bench warrant out for his arrest.
In the immediate aftermath, Tracy Reed resigned from his city job, and now, the Mayor's office says Major Rodney Bryant is being suspended following a preferential treatment investigation ...
Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner will suspend Major Rodney Bryant for 15 days without pay as the result of a City of Atlanta Law Department investigation. The investigation focused on whether former city employee Tracy Reed, who voluntarily resigned from the City of Atlanta on November 4, 2011, received preferential treatment from the Atlanta Police Department during traffic stops on May 4, 2011 and October 28, 2011. Chief Turner’s decision is consistent with previous disciplinary action imposed upon police officers for similar violations.
The Law Department investigation concluded that on October 28, 2011, Major Bryant “failed to properly ascertain all of the information relative to the traffic stop available at the scene prior to allowing [Tracy] Reed to drive unlawfully onto the public roadway while his license was expired and suspended.”
... While the investigation found anecdotal evidence that it was unusual for Major Bryant to intervene in the May 4, 2011 traffic stop, the investigation found no evidence that the decision by Major Bryant and the responding officer to issue a copy of charges and notice of suspension was inconsistent with Standard Operating Procedures.
According to the investigation, officers didn't know at the time that Reed had a warrant out for his arrest because Atlanta Municipal Court bench warrants do not appear in the Atlanta Criminal Information Center (ACIC) database.
A Human Resources Department investigation revealed that Tracy Reed violated city policy — and, well, the law — by operating a city vehicle without a valid license. HR made changes to its Vehicle Use Policy to prevent similar violations in the future.
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