AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Atlanta police chief says emergency response times slowed as officers pair up

As police departments across the country alter tactics in the wake of eight officers killed this month in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner said he is pairing officers on patrols to improve safety.

That decision has cut down on the department's reach in the community on any given shift and slowed response times in emergency situations, which Turner discussed in a national radio interview on NPR on Tuesday.

"It's really challenging for us and other departments around the country who have chosen to go to two-man cars who have not deployed in that fashion in the past," Turner told NPR. "And so our citizens have to understand we cannot have the same response time when we reduce the number of cars that are responding to emergency situations."

Turner said the scrutiny of policing following Ferguson in 2014 has made it more difficult than ever to recruit new officers.

That scrutiny has been on display the past month as protests spread around the country and Atlanta. Turner and APD also have been confronting the aftermath of the June 22 shooting death of an unarmed black man, Deravis Caine Rogers, by a white officer.

Turner acted swiftly in that case and fired the officer, James R. Burns, nine days after the shooting after an internal affairs investigation determined the officer used excessive force when he fired a single shot into Rogers head as he drove away from a northeast Atlanta apartment complex.

Burns made his first appearance in court on Monday and is being held without bond until at least an Aug. 1 preliminary hearing.



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About the Author

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