After a public dispute with local activists over police shootings, DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester says she wants to increase pay for the county’s public safety officers.
The activists, meanwhile, say they want DeKalb commissioners to call for a federal investigation of DeKalb police, creation of a citizens review and the establishment of a “family compassion and accountability protocol” by the county.
Jester said she plans to introduce legislation to increase pay for police officers, firefighters and 911 operators and get them the equipment they need to protect themselves and the people they serve.
“I strongly feel DeKalb County will be a better and safer place if we move forward and expand our training – to both offer protection to our officers and civilians,” Jester wrote in a press release Sept. 23.
The release and call for more public safety support comes a day after Jester said a local group of activists threatened her and her family on social media.
Jester said she had appeared at a recent meeting with the activist group to “show respect and listen.” But Makungu Akinyela, a Georgia State University professor and a member of The DeKalb County Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, said Jester’s listening was the problem.
During the meeting, family members of people who were killed by DeKalb police officers spoke about their losses and, when asked for her reaction, Jester gave none, Akinyela said. “She sat stoically throughout the meeting with her arms folded,” Akinyela said.
When pressed for her feelings about the situation and how she reacted to the families’ losses, she said, with arms folded. “I’m only here to listen,” Akinyela said.
Jester said 90 percent of the people in the room were activists and “they were not happy.” She said she had been advised by lawyers not to attend the meeting at all, but that she did so out of respect.
“I was listening and taking it and trying to take it in and listen and be respectful of everyone’s thoughts and emotions,” Jester said. “I think that was the most responsible thing to do as I am responsible for the entirety of the county. It would have been inappropriate for me to say anything else.”
In a Sept. 23 press release, Jester wrote “The ‘so called’ DeKalb County Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability has attempted to hijack the dialogue and exploit grieving families in DeKalb County to advance their extreme, anti- police, anti- taxpayer agenda.”