ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor is addressing the number of sickouts at the Atlanta Police Department. The higher-than-usual rate of police officers calling in sick began after the death of Rayshard Brooks and the decision by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to charge the two officers involved.
Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer spoke one-on-one with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, asking her what she would say to her constituents about the rolling sick-outs within the police department.
“We have not had any coverage issues. We still have officers who are continuing to show up for work every day,” Bottoms said. “It seems to be a rolling callout, but we do have the ability to shift officers and personnel. It is important for officers to show up, not just for the community in which they have committed themselves to serve, but also for their fellow officers.
“We don’t want there to be a thin presence out in our communities, and many officers are continuing to show up, and they certainly need the support in the physical presence and support of their fellow officers,” she concluded.
Bottoms said she's encouraged by the work occurring within a task force considering changes at APD. She said the goals are to benefit officers and members of the community.She said the goals are to benefit officers and members of the community.
“Police officers are feeling some sort of vulnerable, as they have said, and they feel they are not supported. What gestures will you make so that APD feels that they have the backing of their mayor?” Farmer asked Bottoms.
“I think you have to look at the history of our administration and what that relationship has been with APD,” the mayor began. “I didn’t receive the endorsement of a single police union when I ran for mayor. But when I came into office, I did the right thing because it was the right thing to do and that was to push forward with a 30% historic pay increase for our officers.
“Now, I don’t mention that in the context of money solves all ills, because it absolutely doesn’t, and it means nothing when you are not feeling valued,” Bottoms continued. “But I do speak it in the context of what my commitment has been to the Atlanta Police Department and what has become abundantly clear to me over the past few weeks is that we have to take another look at how we are training our officers, how we expect them to de-escalate situations with an objective standard of de-escalation.”
Bottoms said she thinks those changes will not only benefit the officers in the department, but also the communities they serve.
“Transition is hard. Change is difficult,” she said. “We are seeing that across the country. But I do know we will get to the other side of this.”
The mayor said America is watching Atlanta right now to find that balance between effective police work that is equally safe for all citizens.
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