Atlanta mayor acts on 3 excessive force advisory council recommendations

There are suggestions on the table to tackle the use of excessive force within the Atlanta Police Department.

An advisory council suggested 10 items over two weeks and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms just acted on three of them.

The new adopted items include:

• A commitment to identifying policies to improve officer compliance and public transparency of bodycam footage

• The creation of a witness footage repository for other videos of suspected excessive force

• And a push to raise community awareness of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB).

The Atlanta Police Department has come under fire for the officers who dragged two HBCU students from a car and then an officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks after he resisted arrest and aimed a Taser at police.

All officers involved in both incidents are facing criminal charges.

The mayor was able to act immediately on three of the 10 use of force items, but the other seven are under legal and operational review.

Some of those other recommendations from the advisory council include:

• mental health screenings for officers

• mandating immediate drug testing for officers involved in a use of force incident.

• reviewing records of complaints from other agencies before hiring new officers.

In the coming weeks, the advisory council will submit more recommendations with the hopes of the mayor adopting them.

A full list of the first 10 recommendations are listed below:

  1. Commit to revising the Use of Force continuum in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to increase specificity and align with best practices;
  2. Ensure that changes taken under the Mayor’s Administrative Orders 2020-18 align with best practice policy changes from other cities and continue measures for accountability;
  3. Commit to identifying policies to improve officer compliance and public transparency of captured body-worn camera footage;
  4. Create a centralized repository for witness footage of use of force by officers;
  5. Mandate immediate drug testing for officers when a use of force incident resulting in serious injury or death occurs;
  6. Commit to re-evaluating and revising mission, vision, core values, and oath of the Atlanta Police Department;
  7. Conduct additional screenings - including mental health and implicit bias assessments - for all applicants during the recruiting process, and on an ongoing basis for all officers;
  8. Require more exhaustive background checks with attention to the record of complaints from other agencies, previous applications to police departments, and social media sentiment;
  9. Extend powers and community awareness of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB); and
  10. Begin to evaluate policies, procedures, and partner organizations for the least harm approach to reduce the likelihood of use of force long-term, including the use of non-law enforcement officials for community crisis response and expansion of the pre-arrest diversion program.