Social media chatter has been at a fever pitch all evening about walkouts in Zones 3 and 6. Police radio traffic in Zone 6 – which covers Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Virginia-Highland, and Reynoldstowns, among others – has gone quiet.
Sgt. John Chaffee with APD’s public affairs unit denied the walkouts in a statement, but said there had been a higher than usual number of call outs.
“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. However, department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents throughout the city,” Chaffee said.
A drive around Zone 6 indicated there was not the usual APD presence. A Georgia State Patrol unit was handling a two-car accident at Boulevard and Edgewood Avenue around 9 p.m. The APD’s precinct at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center appeared empty. Down in Grant Park, the Zone 3 precinct was populated by Fulton County Sheriff units.
Vince Champion, southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police officers, told Decaturish that police officers had stopped answering calls midshift, in response to charges against former Officer Garrett Rolfe, who is charged with the felony murder of Rayshard Brooks.
“The union, we would never advocate this. We wouldn’t advocate a blue flu,” Champion said. “We don’t know the numbers. Apparently we’re learning that command staff are asking outlying counties for support and aren’t getting it.”
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN tonight that she was uncertain how many officers had called out, but that the city did have enough officers “to cover us through the night.”
“Our streets won’t be any less safe due to the numbers that have called out,” Bottoms told anchor Chris Cuomo. “We are not the only agency in Atlanta. We have other partners across the metropolitan area from the state and county. We will be fine.”
Bottoms said her main concern was repairing the morale of the APD. “We have a lot of men and women who work for our police department who care about this city and work every day with integrity and with honest interactions with our communities. Those are the people who I expect will show up for work. If we have officers who don’t want bad officers weeded out of the force, then that’s a conversation we need to have.”