Several Sandy Springs Police officers will help protect the Jan. 8 College Football Playoff National Championship at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The assistance request from the Atlanta Police Department comes with a much longer-lasting mutual aid agreement that lets the two forces work together on anything from traffic enforcement to natural disasters.
The football game was already planned as a major security event before the competing teams were known. Now there is extra fan frenzy as it will be semi-hometown game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. And in another security twist, President Trump will attend the game, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At a Jan. 2 meeting where the Sandy Springs City Council approved the mutual aid agreement, city Police Chief Ken DeSimone said APD had asked for the help. “And that was before Georgia was going to be there,” he added.
DeSimone said SSPD will provide six to eight officers with “tactical experience” to the APD-led collective force around the stadium. Asked by Councilmember Tibby DeJulio whether regular SSPD patrols would be reduced, DeSimone said it is only a “handful” of officers. “We’re well-covered,” he said.
But SSPD did not just say yes to the one-shot help. The two departments now have a formal agreement on working together into the future, on any type of policing.
DeSimone said the two departments already help each other in emergency situations as “good neighbors.” Last year, he said, SSPD requested APD helicopters twice and its bomb squad once.
But the formal agreement allows for a much wider range of collaborations and comports with state law for doing so, DeSimone said.
That can be especially useful in city border areas, DeSimone said in an interview after the meeting. Without such an agreement, he said as one example of legal ramifications, a suspect arrested by officers from another city might claim in court that the arrest was unlawful and out of their jurisdiction. As an example of the benefit, DeSimone said, police policy requires that at least two officers respond to a domestic dispute call; a lone SSPD officer in a border area on such a call could now request support from an APD officer without fears of legal entanglements.
The agreement covers virtually any type of patrolling, investigation, event protection and incident response. It spells out who would be in charge of any police team-up, and how commanders would decide how to respond to assistance requests without jeopardizing their own standard duties. The agreement involves no payment from either department and create no legal liability, according to DeSimone and city documents. The agreement runs through June and renews annually until either side ends it.
Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee called it a “great agreement” and praised DeSimone for seeking “something broader” than a one-off deal for the football game protection.
DeSimone said SSPD is considering similar mutual aid agreements with other nearby police forces, including Brookhaven’s.
The Sandy Springs Fire Rescue Department already has a mutual aid agreement with Atlanta and shares a firehouse.
As for the gameday policing, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul joked that, given his knowledge of both teams’ fanbases, the officers should wear “full body armor.”
Sandy Springs is home to the soon-to-open corporate headquarters of Mercedes-Benz’s North American division. Mercedes-Benz bought the naming rights to the Atlanta stadium shortly after the headquarters relocation to Sandy Springs was announced in 2015.