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MARTA’s new police chief brings perspective seasoned by policies, politics of APD

David Pendered

By David Pendered

MARTA’s incoming police chief is a former president of Atlanta’s police union who ascended to become the department’s deputy chief in a 26-year career that spanned squads that fight crimes including human trafficking, robbery and street-level drug dealers.

Scott Kreher

Scott Kreher

Scott Kreher is to take office March 9 as MARTA’s chief of police and emergency management. Kreher previously served as deputy chief of the support division for the Atlanta Police Department.

In his most recent post at APD, Kreher oversaw aspects of the department’s nuts and bolts – which his APD resume described as encompassing the department’s:

  • “$200 million budget; Personnel Services Section – Background and Recruitment and Personnel units; the Training Academy; the Information Services Section – Property and Evidence, Crime Lab, Fleet, Central Records and Supply and the E911 Communications Center that handles over 1 million calls for service annually.”

Kreher arrives at MARTA at a time the rates of violent and property crimes have been tracking downward, according to figures tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The data is reported to the FBI by MARTA. MARTA officers are fully sworn and certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

A 10-year analysis available from the FBI shows the following:

The rate of violent crime reported to the FBI by MARTA trended downward in 2018. Credit: crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov

  • Violent crimes peaked in 2018 at 208 reported crimes. Violent crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault;
  • Property crimes peaked in 2014 at 419 reported crimes. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

MARTA CEO Jeff Parker cited the crime rate trends in a statement that announces Kreher’s appointment:

  • “The MARTA system remains one of the safest and most secure in the country and I want to make sure it stays that way. Chief Kreher’s technical expertise and extensive leadership experience will help guide the MARTA Police Department into the future.”

Kreher is to report directly to Wanda Dunham, MARTA’s previous police who was promoted in 2018 to serve as MARTA’s chief of system safety, security and emergency management. Dunham said of Kreher’s appointment:

The rate of property crimes reported to the FBI by MARTA have trended downward in since a recent peak in 2014. Credit: crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov

  • “In his 27-year career in Atlanta law enforcement, Chief Kreher has worked alongside the MARTA Police Department during events such as the ’96 Olympics and most recently Super Bowl LIII. His law enforcement experience, dedication to safety and security, and commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect are unparalleled. I’m proud to welcome Chief Kreher to the Department.”

Kreher is known to not flinch from stating his opinions on public safety and the treatment of fellow officers. Kreher took on then Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2009, when he served as president of the local chapter of the police union, International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

Kreher spoke at a 2009 budget hearing before members of the Atlanta City Council. Kreher was protesting what was some officers viewed as an unofficial city policy that to ignore requests for compensation filed by officers injured in the line of duty.

Kreher was suspended following his remarks about Franklin, which were reported multiple media outlets, and by an online petition seeking his reinstatement:

  • “These five officers were injured in the line of duty; I want to beat her [Mayor Franklin] in the head with a baseball bat sometimes when I think about it. I cannot believe Mayor Franklin’s administration would allow this to happen. This administration should be ashamed of itself.”

CNN covered the situation and reported this comment from an officer injured in the line of duty:

  • “I’ve been calling the mayor’s office for more than a year, and no one has called me back or I’ve been told to talk to another department. Kreher called me back the same day,” said Ryan Phinney, a 43-year-old paraplegic whose squad car was T-boned in 1989. “Kreher was defending us against people who refused to listen, and that is so offensive. It’s no wonder he got upset.”

Kreher apologized in a statement published on IBPO’s website, according to the petition. Kreher later passed a mandated psychological review and was reinstated.

MARTA’s incoming police chief, Scott Kreher, will oversee a department of officers who are fully sworn and certified under the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. Credit: facebook.com/martapolice

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David Pendered
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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