George Turner, Atlanta’s retired police chief, joining Philips Arena and Atlanta Hawks

By Maria Saporta

Retired Atlanta Police Chief George Turner has a new job.

Turner will become vice president of safety and security for the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena beginning on May 1.

George Turner

George Turner attending Operation HOPE’s Global Forum in Atlanta on Tuesday (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Turner retired from the City of Atlanta in December 2016 after spending 35 years with the Atlanta Police Department. He became Atlanta’s police chief in January, 2010.

“Chief Turner possesses an unequaled knowledge of policing and securing our great city, which he has earned over 35 years in local law enforcement,“ said Brett Stefansson, executive vice president and general manager of Philips Arena. “The experience and leadership he brings to our organization will be a great benefit to all Hawks and Philips Arena staff, employees and guests.”

For Turner, working for the Hawks will complete a circle in his life.

“I worked as an usher at the old Omni when I was attending Clark College,” said Turner, an Atlanta native who grew up in public housing.

During his tenure with the city, Turner was well-respected among the different constituencies. As chief, he helped build morale within the department, forged relationships with the business community, and focused on community policing. Crime in the city decreased significantly under his watch.

Police Chief Erika Shields George Turner

Incoming Police Chief Erika Shields looks admiringly at her mentor – Police Chief George Turner – in December 2016 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

While several other cities around the country experienced significant tensions between the police department and the community, Atlanta worked to build bridges with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In March, Central Atlanta Progress honored the retired police chief with the annual Turner (as in Turner Broadcasting) Downtown Community Leadership Award.

Meanwhile, Erika Shields succeeded Turner as Atlanta police chief after being with the department for 21 years. Most recently, she had served a deputy police chief.

When asked what was most appealing about taking the job with the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, Turner did not hesitate.

“It’s home. It’s in Atlanta,” Turner said while attending Operation HOPE’s Global Forum in Atlanta. “And it’s fun.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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