ATLANTA - The Atlanta Chief of Police said her officers will no longer respond to shoplifting calls at stores in Buckhead.
Erika Shields said staff shortages, in excess of 300 officers, has forced her to reevaluate how to deploy officers. In the affluent section north of downtown, Shields said, the APD Zone Two officers frequently get calls from merchants to do a report on a shoplifter who has been caught by store security. After filling out the paperwork, the officer then must arrange a transport to the Atlanta City Jail in downtown.
All that can take up to an hour and a half to complete. The chief believes that time can be better spent by having those officers handle serious crimes, from burglaries to carjackings.
Shields said if a shoplifting takes place, the larceny can still be reported and will be counted in the APD stats. The chief puts the onus on the merchant to file the incident and, if necessary, spend the funds to hire an off-duty Atlanta or metro officer who can make the sure the culprit is made to pay for his crime.
A Buckhead resident and community leader, Roslyn Smith, is "disappointed" the city is in the position where staff shortages is leaving the chief with such a choice.
"Personally, I am not going to feel comfortable going to shop," Smith said.
As for filling the gap in manpower, Chief Shields said, a pay study is being prepared that she will present to Mayor Keisha Bottoms in the hopes of making her officers among the highest salaried law enforcement in the area.