You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

breaking news

Trump slams CNN after employees resign over retracted Russia story

Opinion: Gwinnett chief’s actions reflect well on a department and profession

Recently released cellphone videos showing two Gwinnett County police officers hitting a man in the face and kicking him in the head while handcuffed set off a firestorm of criticism and condemnation.

The first cellphone video that went viral clearly showed a non-resisting man on the ground with the supervisor who had just finished applying handcuffs. Then, a second officer, presumably his backup, arrived and runs over to the prone man and literally stomps on his face. The second video that went viral showed the supervisor removing the man from his car. The man is seen to place his hands above his head when the supervisor strikes him in the face with his forearm.

Here, the videos of the Gwinnett incident were clear and presented compelling evidence for the police chief to act decisively and without delay. The information both officers wrote in their reports about their use of physical force, coupled with the cellphone videos is imperative to understanding the police chief’s reasoning for taking firm, necessary and quick action to terminate the employment of both officers. With the above facts known, the chief commenced an independent criminal investigation into the actions of the two officers.

The actions taken by Chief Ayers of the Gwinnett County Police Department were administrative and involved departmental policies, procedures, and employment rules. The burden of proof in administrative cases is a “preponderance of the evidence”. This is a much-lower threshold than that required in the prosecution of a criminal case, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

When any chief has clear and convincing evidence of a serious policy violation or violations of the law, they must act swiftly in administrative situations that may cause termination or reprimand. Therefore, the public should understand that not every case of alleged police misconduct can be handled as quickly as it occurred in the Gwinnett case.

A criminal investigation will generally take longer than an administrative or internal affairs investigation. Videos must be more closely examined for they may or may not accurately depict the entire circumstances of the police/citizen encounter. Also, with criminal investigations, witnesses and officers must be interviewed and an investigation once completed is reviewed by a prosecutor.

Using force, even lawful use of force, is not the desired approach law enforcement prefers to use. However, force is lawful when it is necessary, reasonable and furthers a legal police objective. If a person resists a lawful arrest, the officer may then use force to overcome that resistance. Once the resistance stops, the officer’s use of force must also stop.

The swift action and statements made by Chief Ayers clarify that such behavior is outside policy and will not be tolerated. The actions taken by Chief Ayers is one reason the Gwinnett County Police Department is deemed to be an outstanding Nationally Accredited and State Certified law enforcement agency.

Police officers in Gwinnett and in countless number of departments across the nation are doing their jobs in a professional and ethical manner. I encourage you to praise our 21st-century centurions for their commitment to professional policing and to the citizens they serve.

Frank V. Rotondo is executive director, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

New targets needed for immigration enforcement

We are seeing deeper divides in the streets, in protests which are getting more filled with clashes, hate and violence. Much of the division seems to involve skin color, ethnicity and how “American” they are; who is really “American,” and who is allowed to be an “American.”  Over the last decade, the issue of...
Opinion: Highlights (i.e., lowlights) of CBO health analysis
Opinion: Highlights (i.e., lowlights) of CBO health analysis

(AP) The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation have released their analysis of the Senate GOP’s health-care proposal.
Revered APS principal Stephanie Johnson leaves Maynard Jackson High for state post
Revered APS principal Stephanie Johnson leaves Maynard Jackson High for state post

Over the years, the state Department of Education has either courted or poached – depending on your perspective – some key folks from metro Atlanta school systems. Former state school chief John Barge and current office holder Richard Woods, both from outside the metro hub, reached a bit farther and brought in some rural Georgia educators...
Opinion: A win for religious liberty at the U.S. Supreme Court
Opinion: A win for religious liberty at the U.S. Supreme Court

The empty playground at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., shown in January 2016. (AP file photo) Monday was a busy day for court rulings, and not only in Georgia.
Readers Write: June 27

With voting also comes responsibility The recent election shows how powerful our vote can be. Our vote is the one thing that candidates strive for and hope to achieve. They court us and almost everything they do during the campaign is to get our vote. The mere thought of losing our vote makes candidates tremble. The power of our vote that was so hard-won...
More Stories