The Atlanta Police Department said Wednesday that it was experiencing “a higher than usual number of call outs.”
The call outs come after two officers were charged in connection with the killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot after falling asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru.
“Across the country morale is down with police departments,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN, “and I think ours is down tenfold. This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta.”
Atlanta police officers called out of work in higher than usual numbers Wednesday night, hours after one of their former colleagues was charged with felony murder in the killing of Rayshard Brooks.
Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after video surfaced of him shooting Brooks in the back, faces a total of 11 charges, District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. said Wednesday. Another officer, Devin Brosnan, faces three charges, including aggravated assault.
Brooks was killed after police received a call that he had fallen asleep in his car while sitting in a Wendy’s drive-thru. After he was shot, Rolfe allegedly kicked Brooks’ body.
The Atlanta Police Department denied there had been walk-offs amid claims, largely from right-wing commentators, that some zones of the city were completely unstaffed.
“The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift,” the department tweeted Wednesday night. “We have enough resources to maintain operations [and] remain able to respond to incidents.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she supported the charges announced Wednesday, describing the speed with which they were announced as “the new normal.” But she suggested that it and the protests that have rocked the city could be impacting local law enforcement.
“Across the country morale is down with police departments,” Bottoms told CNN, “and I think ours is down tenfold. This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta.”
Bottoms insisted that the city had enough officers to get through the night, despite the call outs. “We will be fine,” she said. “The thing that I’m most concerned about is how we repair the morale in our police department and how do we ensure our communities are safe as they interact with our police officers.”
Recent history suggests that a reduction in policing efforts might not lead to a rise in crime. In late 2014 and early 2015, New York police officers engaged in a work “slowdown” to protest criticism they had received from the mayor and public. During that time, a study found that “civilian complaints of major crimes dropped by about 3% to 6%,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
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