If all it takes to be qualified to stand a heartbeat away from becoming the leader of the free world is a viral video, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms would be a shoo-in. However, Joe Biden has said that his vice president needs to be qualified to be president on day one. If Bottoms is standing idly by while Atlanta crumbles, why would anyone think she could manage a national or international crisis?
Following the police-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks and the murder charges filed against officer Garrett Rolfe, Atlanta police officers let the city leaders know they have had enough. The started calling in sick in inordinate numbers, leaving parts of the city with no service.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 171 officers called in sick between June 17 and June 20. The department downplayed the extent of the problem and scrambled to bring in officers from nearby jurisdictions. The adjacent departments refused, and on Friday, June 19, 90 officers did not report in. This date was Juneteenth when protests, which had been turning violent, were threatened.
Bottoms herself contributed to this by giving a distinctly anti-police speech following the shooting. She put out immediate executive orders and said publicly in a statement she did not believe the shooting was justified. This sentiment led to charges being filed against Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had concluded its investigation.
Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that shootings in Atlanta are surging.
During the first three weeks of this month — May 31 to June 20 — 75 people have been shot in Atlanta. Last year during that period, 35 people were shot in the city.
Eleven of those victims have died, which is more than twice the number for the same period last year. Note, the period reported is before the Brooks shooting and the extensive case of the “Blue-Flu.” Even the mayor admitted on CNN that her police department was utterly demoralized.
The AJC contends that police are taking a more hands-off approach. In addition to Rolfe and Brosnan, the DA charged six other officers for an incident where Tasers were used during riots. Jason Segura, a union leader, told the paper that cops are still looking out for one another.
“Officers will respond to high-level calls and protecting each other,” said Jason Segura, a cop who heads the department’s union. He said the recent firings and quick arrests of officers without detailed investigations has police thinking the city does not have their backs.
With Bottoms’ poor handling of the unrest and balancing the needs of law enforcement with those of the community, it is no small wonder this sentiment exists. Proactive and community policing has pretty much stopped. Segura added:
“She’s going to listen to the mob” in calling for arrests of and sanctions against police, Segura said. “This is politics and the citizens are suffering. Being proactive will probably get you indicted under the current state of affairs.”
The police are not the only ones who feel abandoned. Community leader Elbert Bartell is very concerned about the summer and is frustrated by the police responding slowly.
He senses a bad vibe in the streets. “Everything is getting tense and the summer is just starting,” he said. “It is a free-fall. You ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s going to get buck-wild.”
Bartell said the city must “try to redefine the relationship between the public and police” and quickly hire a new chief, someone who “understands community policing and hard-nosed policing.”
But, he added, “The community has to step up. We have to get into violence management in the neighborhood. We can’t lump it all on police. We are letting it happen. Our nephews and nieces are shooting each other.”
The relationship between city hall and the police has deteriorated quickly. Atlanta had made great strides in data-driven policing, and the city had seen a significant drop in violent crime. Now the AJC reports that even traffic stops have dropped dramatically. In the third week of June, officers made 50 stops compared with 3,000 for the same period just a year ago.
Mayor Bottoms is the leader of the city. When officers were not reporting in, and other jurisdictions declined the assist, she did not ask Governor Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) for help or for any National Guard support. She left her residents unprotected and vulnerable. Even businesses are shuttering due to the uptick in violence:
Earlier this month, the owners of a bar in the popular Edgewood Avenue nightlife district posted a photo online of the business’s window smashed by a bullet. They said they felt unsafe and were closing “until the city gets its #@&! together.”
Eight people had been shot near the location in six days.
Luckily, the move to defund the police has been stopped in Atlanta. In an 8 to 7 vote, the move to withhold $73 million from the APD budget until the mayor’s office drafted a plan to reinvent the culture of policing. That is approximately a third of the department budget.
Forget reimagining law enforcement. Right now, Bottoms should be focusing on getting any policing done at all. Joe Biden might as well pick New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio if this is the type of stewardship he is looking for.
With an obviously impaired nominee, it is no secret the vice president and cabinet will be making all the decisions. Americans certainly don’t need a leader that can’t manage public safety.