Eight police officers have resigned from the Atlanta Police Department since June 1, the department told local news affiliate CBS 46, and morale in the department is worsening as policing protests and unrest continues.
Atlanta in turmoil
Adding to the pressure is the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot and killed after pointing a taser at an officer in Atlanta last week.
Fox News reported that Brooks was passed out in his vehicle in a Wendy’s drive-through lane when two police officers responded to 911 calls. When they attempted to arrest Brooks for impaired driving, he resisted, stole one of their tasers, and fled. Officer Garrett Rolfe opened fire on Brooks after he turned and pointed the taser at them. Following his death, a mob assembled outside of the Wendy’s and then proceeded to burn it down.
Officer Rolfe has been fired; the other responding officer has been placed on leave. Meanwhile, the police department is offering a reward for information about the rioters responsible for destroying the restaurant.
Officers working overtime amid protests
That was only the latest in a series of massive protests and related riots that the city has seen since the death of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25. “We are now going into the third consecutive week of unabated protests in which officers have worked 12-hour shifts seven days per week,” Atlanta Police Foundation president Dave Wilkinson told CBS 46.
“As you can imagine, their stress levels are exacerbated by physical and emotional exhaustion,” Wilkinson added. “We are grateful for the sacrifices they are making every day and will continue to support them while accelerating the programs under the Atlanta Police Foundation’s mission in order to address police reform and other issues the protests and their aftermath have illuminated.”
According to CBS 46, the Atlanta Police Foundation had originally claimed that 19 officers had stepped down since the first on the month, but it later revised that number down to eight after receiving a correction from the city’s police department.
Mayor: “The morale is bad right now.”
“Earlier today, the Atlanta Police Foundation reported an inaccurate number of officer resignations within the Atlanta Police Department since the start of the social justice protests,” they told the television station.
“Eight officers (8) have resigned since June 1. Due to a miscommunication, we reported inaccurately that 19 officers had resigned. We apologize for the error.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms admitted during a Monday afternoon press conference that things aren’t going well in her city’s police department. “The morale is bad right now. A lot of anger and frustration directed at our police officers,” she said.
Trump takes action
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that bans chokeholds “unless an officer’s life is at risk,” among other things. Trump also strongly emphasized his support for law enforcement officers in his remarks prior to signing the order.
“Without police there is chaos, without law there is anarchy and without safety there is a catastrophe,” Trump said, adding, “When you remove the police, you hurt those who have the least, the most.”