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Atlanta police hosting analysts involved in federal effort to improve police practices

APD motorcycle riders

Atlanta police motorcycle riders wait in parking lot next to Midtown Art Cinema near Piedmont Park while protesters gathered in the park. (File/Photo by Maria Saporta)

By David Pendered

On the heels of peaceful protests in Atlanta by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a team working with the White House to advance policing practices are visiting Atlanta to talk with the Atlanta Police Department and community stakeholders.

APD motorcycle riders

Atlanta police motorcycle riders wait in parking lot next to Midtown Art Cinema near Piedmont Park while protesters gathered in the park. (File/Photo by Maria Saporta)

The visit is part of Atlanta’s role as one of 15 law enforcement agencies selected to participate in the Initiative to Advance 21st Century Policing. The purpose is to help police departments implement the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Atlanta already has been recognized for a step taken to improve relations with the community after an officer has used force that results in injury or death.

The task force’s recommendation was to have a disinterested third party conduct the investigation into the use of force. APD asked the GBI to conduct such investigations, as did DeKalb County’s police department, and the GBI agreed in each case.

“[A]s a result, t here is external and independent criminal investigation of such uses of force by members of those departments,” observes the recently released One-Year Progress Report issued by the task force.

Incidentally, a DeKalb County official serves on the task force. Cedric Alexander is deputy chief operating officer for public safety is one of 11 members of the task force.

The team that’s on a three-day visit to Atlanta is from CNA Analysis and Solutions, the grantee partner of the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. COPS is attached to the federal Department of Justice. The department is providing funding and support to the task force.

Atlanta Police Chief Turner

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner testified in March before a Congressional committee. Turner opposed cutbacks in federal funding of local law enforcement programs. File/Credit: homeland.house.gov

After CNA completes its field work, analysts are to develop a series of action plans tailored for APD. APD will be provided coaching, training and technical assistance resources to implement the recommendations, according to a statement from APD.

Once all 15 law enforcement agencies have been reviewed, CNA is to produce a field operations guide that is to serve as a “how to” manual for other agencies. The guide is to include lessons learned, best practices and case studies of each of the 15 agencies.

“We are proud of the work we’re doing to implement and follow the 59 recommendations established by President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” police Chief George N. Turner said in the statement. “We have adopted a guardian mindset to continue to build trust and nurture relationships with the citizens of Atlanta.”

COPS announced the program May 23, which coincided with the anniversary of release of the task force’s final report. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the task force’s efforts represent the administration’s determination to advance police practices.

Loretta Lynch

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with students and young adults in East Haven, Ct., during her Community Policing tour on July 21, 2015. Credit: USACT

“As we observe the one-year anniversary of the release of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, this announcement not only highlights jurisdictions for their efforts to build and maintain community-police collaboration and trust – it also reinforces the Administration’s commitment to progress,” Lynch said in a statement. “I commend these jurisdictions, and I look forward to all that they will continue to achieve through this initiative in the days to come.”

The participating agencies include:

Tucson (AZ) Police Department, Indio (CA) Police Department, Kewaunee County (WI) Sheriff’s Office, Doral (FL) Police Department, Atlanta (GA) Police Department, Louisville (KY) Metro Police Department, Lowell (MA) Police Department, Hennepin County (MN) Sheriff’s Department, Albany (NY) Police Department, Columbia (SC) Police Department, South Dakota Highway Patrol, San Antonio (TX) Police Department, Arlington (TX) Police Department, Gun Lake Tribal Police Department (MI) Band of Pottawatomi Indians, and Camden County (NJ) Police Department.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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