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The Atlanta Police Department is suffering a major shortage of officers after two of them were arrested on a number of charges including murder following the shooting of a black man armed with a taser earlier this summer, an incident that sparked protests and riots.
In June, two officers were called to check on the status of a man, Rayshard Brooks, 27, who had presumably passed out drunk behind the wheel in the drive-through lane of a Wendy’s restaurant.
The officers, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, questioned Brooks for several minutes before concluding he was likely intoxicated after he failed a sobriety test. As they attempted to arrest him, he resisted, gained control of one of the officers’ tasers, and as he ran from them fired it.
Rolfe responded by discharging his weapon at Brooks, striking him in the back. He was fired and charged with 11 criminal counts, including felony murder. Brosnan, who was also fired, has been charged with lesser counts. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned after the incident.
In the weeks that followed, reports noted scores of officers began calling in sick — a phenomenon known as the “blue flu” — which led to a dramatic rise in shootings and other brazen criminal activity.
Steve Deace, a conservative podcaster with TheBlaze media platforms, tweeted June 17 that he received the following email from an Atlanta officer: “Atlanta police officers are refusing to answer the radio and walking off of the job. The county can go screw themselves. If you want a society without police we’ll give you one. Let it burn!”
Just got this email from an Atlanta police officer:
"Atlanta police officers are refusing to answer the radio and walking off of the job. The county can go screw themselves. If you want a society without police we’ll give you one. Let it burn!"
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) June 17, 2020
And now, three months later, the department appears to be facing an officer shortage crisis.
“There is a critical shortage of police officers in Atlanta. That is what police personnel records show, as the city is down approximately 400 officers available immediately to hit the street,” FOX5 reported Thursday.
The outlet noted that following this summer’s “turmoil,” officers began submitting applications to other departments.
Michael Bond, an Atlanta city councilman, said he wants to try and find a way to keep more officers from leaving.
“We have to have a conversation,” Bond told FOX 5. “And show our police who are trying to do their best, that we support them.”
Meanwhile, Jason Segura, head of the Atlanta police union, said members are keeping an eye on local political leadership, adding that officers want to know they can be proactive on the street without being thrown under a bus for following departmental training and policies.
That likely includes Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was quick to pass judgment against her officers after watching video of the incident.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer [who fired the fatal shot],” she said.
“What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities they are entrusted to protect,” she added.
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