The Dunwoody Police Department’s 2021 Annual Report showed an overall increase in crime last year and also hits on problems with retention and recruitment within the department.
According to the report, “Crimes Against Persons” increased by 20.8% in 2021 compared to 2020, with 93 instances of violent crime reported in 2021 versus 77 in 2020. However, the report shows a decrease in reported murders and rapes, down from three homicides in 2020 to two in 2021, and down to nine reported rapes in 2021 compared to 11 in 2020.
This category also includes incidents of armed robbery and aggravated assault. The report shows an increase in both categories, with 53 aggravated assaults reported in 2021 compared to 40 in 2020, and 29 armed robberies reported in 2021 compared to 23 in 2020. This makes for a 32.5% and 26.1% increase respectively.
“Crimes Against Property” increased by 2.8% from 2020 to 2021, with a total of 1,430 property crimes in 2021 compared to 1,391 in 2020. According to the report, there were 95 reported burglaries in 2021 compared to 81 in 2020, marking an increase of 17.3%. There were 1,236 reported cases of larceny in 2021 compared to 1,204 in 2020, marking an increase of 2.7%. There was a slight decrease in motor vehicle thefts, with 99 reported cases in 2021 compared to 106 reported cases in 2020, marking a decrease of 6.6%.
According to the report, there were 46,150 calls for service in 2021, down 19.3% from 57,217 calls in 2020.
The original annual report that the Dunwoody Police Department issued contained an error in the total number of arrests made in 2021. The original report said that the department made 1,566 arrests in 2021, but according to a record requested by Reporter Newspapers regarding the race and ethnicity of those arrested in 2021, the department made 1,613 arrests.
A spokesperson for the Dunwoody Police Department said a miscalculation was made in the original annual report, and at first confirmed the number of arrests in 2012 to be 1,613. However, a recount was done before a revised report was issued, and that recount found the total number of arrests in 2021 to be 1,614. This number is up from 1,479 arrests in 2020.
According to the Dunwoody Police Department, out of the 1,614 arrests in 2021, about 67% or 1,082 of people arrested were Black. According to U.S. Census data, Black residents make up about 12% of the city’s population. Of the total number of arrests, about 31% or 504 of the people arrested were white, where white residents make up about 55.5% of the population.
An earlier report requested by Reporter Newspapers stated that 27 of the people arrested in 2021 were Asian while one person was “Indian.” When asked for clarification, the city clerk stated that the “Indian” designation referred to a Native American person. However, a spokesperson for the DPD later stated that this report was incorrect, and that 28 of the people arrested in 2021 were Asian. Asian and Pacific Islander residents make up about 17% of the city’s population, and American Indian and Alaskan Native residents make up less than 1% of the city’s population.
According to the DPD, 87% of the people arrested were not Hispanic. About 9% of the city’s population identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to census data.
The 2021 Annual Report also featured an “Accountability” section which detailed use of force and complaints made against the department. The report defines use of force as “the display of a firearm or Taser in a confrontational manner; the deployment of a firearm or Taser; or physical force using hard and/or soft hand control techniques.”
According to the report, there were 61 instances in 2021 where an officer used force against someone, down about 18.7% from 2020, where there were 75 instances of force. Six complaints were filed against eight officers in 2021. The department found five of those six to be unfounded. The complaint that was founded related to a resident who saw an officer talking on his phone while driving, according to a records request.
In a letter at the beginning of the report, Chief Billy Grogan stated that the department had its highest rate of turnover this year, and said the department struggles with recruitment and retention. According to a record obtained by Reporter Newspapers, 24 police officers and civilian employees resigned or were fired from the department during the time period of January in 2021 to June 4, 2022. In the letter, Grogan said he believed the department’s recruitment issues to be similar to other departments. Of Dunwoody’s surrounding cities, the Brookhaven Police Department has had 28 firings or resignations in the same time period, while the Sandy Springs Police Department has had 29.
Some residents believe the department’s turnover has to do with legal and personnel issues the city has faced over the past two years, mostly related to former Lt. Fidel Espinoza, who multiple officers accused of sexual harassment in 2020. After the recent firing of former civilian transport officer Brian Bolden, some residents spoke out against the police department at a March 29 Dunwoody City Council meeting.
The entire 2021 Annual Report can be read here.