AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Atlanta VA director Leslie Wiggins says "not sure" why vet concerned about aggressive police tactics

One veteran who spoke out said the VA police in Atlanta too often escalate incidents with veterans at the facility through use of physical force.

"We have a very robust police unit," Wiggins said. "I'm very proud of it. I'm not sure the source of that particular veteran's concern. We talked offline to several veterans. I wasn't able to substantiate any particular incident or anything that might have happened that might have solicited that type of comment."

When pressed about whether she views this as an issue at the Atlanta VA she's charged with leading, Wiggins said:

"No. I was not able to substantiate that concern with the veteran who raised it," Wiggins said. "I followed up with that veteran and others who have raised similar concerns and I wasn't able to substantiate any incident or anything like that."

Wiggins said any allegation of misconduct is looked into "immediately."

Wiggins said she doesn't know how many complaints have been filed against the Atlanta VA police force and said she wouldn't be able to provide that information. She said the AJC would need to file a Freedom of Information Act request if it wanted to get that information.

Atlanta VA will have another town hall meeting this month, scheduled for Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Veterans can voice their concerns with Wiggins and her staff. Here's a link for more information about the event. These meetings have been ordered at VA facilities across the country by the new VA Secretary Bob McDonald, who is trying to restore credibility to the agency after a year of scandal.

If you have information about aggressive tactics by VA Police or other issues involving the VA Police force please contact reporter Brad Schrade at brad.schrade@ajc.com or 404-526-2875.

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About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.