Atlanta police chief gives back bonus she received from Reed in his final days

ATLANTA — Atlanta’s police chief has returned the bonus she received from former Mayor Kasim Reed during his final days in office.

The more than $500,000 in bonuses and prizes has come under scrutiny recently following a Channel 2 Action News and Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation.

“It just did not feel right,” Chief Erika Shields said.

In an exclusive interview with Channel 2's Aaron Diamant, Shields said she paid back the $10,000 bonus she got from Reed out of the blue in December.

“I was personally not comfortable receiving it, because these officers have to be adequately compensated, and they are not competitively compensated for what we’re asking of them,” she said.


Shields told us, at the time, she didn’t know that in the waning days of Reed’s administration, he doled out more than $500,000 in taxpayer-funded bonuses and holiday party prizes to members of his cabinet and dozens of other select city employee. Once Shields found out, she said, “I knew immediately I was done, that this money was going back to the city.”

Shields stopped short of calling the payouts inappropriate or excessive.

“I will say that some of the financial decision-making that’s coming out has been shocking,” she said

With the money unspent and Shields having such strong misgivings, we asked why she didn't return it sooner.

“I think it was one of those things that’s just unpleasant and you set it aside and you just don’t want to deal with it,” she said.

When asked if she believes others might follow her lead, she said, “I’m not one of these people that does hashtag movements, alright? This isn’t about that. Those individuals are more than capable of making their own decision for what is appropriate for them and the departments that they lead.”

On Wednesday, the city announced it was launching an investigation into the “excessive” spending.

The current mayor’s chief of staff, Marva Lewis, told the Atlanta City Council that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' administration wants to hire an outside law firm to get to the bottom of the big-time bonuses and prize money.