Atlanta civic leaders welcome Erika Shields as new police chief

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta’s new police chief – Erika Shields – was welcomed by the city’s business and civic leaders on Tuesday evening at the Commerce Club.

The reception, hosted by the Atlanta Committee for Progress and the Atlanta Police Foundation, drew nearly 300 people who witnessed a re-enactment of the swearing-in of the new police chief.

Shields succeeds Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, who retired at the end of the year.

 

Erika Shields

Erika Shields welcomed by Mayor Kasim Reed, ACP’s Duriya Farooqu and Dave Wilkinson of the Atlanta Police Foundation (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed described how Shields had been promoted through the ranks on the police department, most recently as the deputy police chief. Her promotion was part of the mayor’s commitment to train and hire from within.

“All the finalists for the post came from within,” said Reed, upon congratulating Shields. Then he borrowed a phrase made famous by Shirley Franklin – his predecessor. “She will make us all proud.”

David Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, talked about the close relationship between the business community and the police force, one that he pledged would continue with Police Chief Shields.

The reception was covered by a large number of journalists, including six television cameras.

Kasim Reed, Erika Shields, Dave Wilkinson

Mayor Kasim Reed with Police Chief Erika Shields and Atlanta Police Foundation’s Dave Wilkinson (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“Mayor Reed could not have made a better choice,” said Duriya Farooqui, executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress. “She will become the second woman to serve as Atlanta’s police chief.”

When Shields took the podium, she said she was truly humbled to be given the opportunity to lead. She then introduced a couple of dozen top members of her staff – reciting their names and their positions.

While the department faces multiple challenges – despite a significant decrease in crime, Shields pledged to continue leading “a progressive and forward thinking department.”

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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