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AJC Investigates

Law enforcement

Georgia police agencies top $70 million in surplus military gear

Georgia police agencies top $70 million in surplus military gear

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For the first time, the federal government has released data allowing Americans to see what kind of military hardware is in the hands of their local police departments and government agencies.

In Georgia, the surplus military gear ranges from the harmless — an ice cream machine for the Department of Revenue — to deadly weapons from the field of war.

Here in metro Atlanta, the list of weapons and hardware includes:

Two Humvees for the Fulton County Schools Police Department; Thirty M14 and M16 machine guns for the Clayton County Police Department; A grenade launcher for the Douglasville Police Department.

ON THE WATCHDOG BLOG

Watchdog roundup: Crime prediction, prescriptions, prenatal tests under scrutiny

Big data is transforming law enforcement, or so the public has been told. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has credited data analytics for helping to forecast where and when criminals will strike, driving down the city’s crime rate. “In the future, police will perfect the use of predictive analytics to thwart crimes before they occur,” he said this summer, in sketching out the future of urbanism.

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AJC Investigation

Georgia hires prison doctors with troubled pasts

Georgia hires prison doctors with troubled pasts

The infection is ever-present. Even with the almost daily doses of antibiotics, it won’t go away.

The small bumps on Amanda Lawson’s skin, sometimes transforming into painful boils, regularly remind her of the virulence of the raging MRSA bacteria.

They also remind her of a breast augmentation procedure that went horribly awry and the surgeon she says “pretty much demolished my life.

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Crime

Criticized for secrecy, parole board to give crime victims a say
Kent D. Johnson

Criticized for secrecy, parole board to give crime victims a say

Georgia’s parole board, criticized for secretly pardoning violent criminals and sex offenders, adopted major policy changes Tuesday, inviting unprecedented scrutiny of at least some of its operations.

Beginning next month, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles will notify crime victims and prosecutors when a sex offender or other violent felon applies for a pardon, including those restoring the right to possess firearms.

Special Report

FedEx shooter failed in quest for infamy
HANDOUT

FedEx shooter failed in quest for infamy

Many rituals follow mass shootings in the United States, prominent among them a search for meaning — for the hidden clues that would somehow make sense of why the shooter snapped; for the missed signals that, if detected in time, might have forestalled the tragedy.

But a close examination of Geddy Kramer's final months finds no obvious cause for his April 29 rampage through the Kennesaw FedEx warehouse where he worked.

Blight

Authorities struggle to deal with blight
Jonathan Phillips

Authorities struggle to deal with blight

It’s no secret that Jett Street Apartments were trouble. Plenty of people tried to do something about it. All they got was more reasons to be angry.

Investigators busted drug sales operations there at least 11 times in four years. Elected officials fielded complaints about trash, junk and rats. Atlanta police were called there for fights, drugs and other crimes some 500 times since 2009.


Tax breaks

Granting tax breaks for luxury apartments
Hyosub Shin

Fulton grants tax breaks for luxury apartment projects

Developers of luxury apartments in wealthy neighborhoods have received tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks the past two years from a Fulton County incentive program envisioned for corporate expansions and relocations.

For that public investment, the posh towers and complexes in Midtown, Buckhead and other Fulton development hot spots create relatively few permanent jobs.

An AJC investigation found that the Development Authority of Fulton County doesn’t even calculate the cost of the tax breaks to measure against the potential public benefits.

» MAP: Luxury apts get lucrative tax breaks

Government spending

DeKalb water workers clock marathon overtime
JOHN SPINK / AJC

DeKalb water workers clock marathon overtime

Think your work days are long? Try pulling the hours clocked by DeKalb County’s top overtime earners.

A handful of pipe crew workers and supervisors in the water department nearly doubled their pay last year by logging marathon hours at time-and-a-half rates. Their time sheets show back-to-back shifts — 17 hours, 20 hours, 30 hours at a stretch — with gaps in between that hardly leave time for a decent night’s sleep, an analysis of overtime records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

Hospital care

High c-section rates draw concerns
Brant Sanderlin

High c-section rates draw concerns

Atlanta’s Northside Hospital, which delivers more babies than any other community hospital in the nation, also stands out in another category: cesarean sections.

Northside had one of the state’s highest c-section rates in 2013, with 39 percent of births done by c-section, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of hospital reports.


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