The Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB) was created after officers with the Atlanta Police Department shot and killed a 92-year old woman and planted drugs in her home to cover the botched raid. The board was seen as a way to hold the department accountable from the outside and to help maintain community trust in the system. But not everyone was or is convinced of the Board’s usefulness.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the board has been operation for five years now and faces “resistance from the police force, an apparent lack of interest from city government, internal board politics and a damaged public image.”
Former board member, Joy Morrissey, who had been on it since its creation, says that it had the potential for effectiveness but blames the “huge political machine” that is the city of Atlanta for squashing that potential.
Though the ACRB is supposed to operate with 11 members, it’s been short one for seven months now. The pool of applicants has been reduced to 13 who will be interviewed by the current board members who are expected to make a decision on the new member within one month.
The police department, union, and others wish the ACRB had less power and no investigative duties. Instead, they prefer the board only had the power to audit internal investigations already completed by the department. In other words, they don’t believe the ACRB should be able to fully investigate questionable cases, rather only review what’s already been done by the department.
According to community leader Rev. Anthony Motley, “It’s obvious…that [police] want a symbolic organization. They want an organization with no teeth in it. They want a citizen review board in name only and they do not want a board that will serve as a serious checks and balances on police actions.”
But there is a need for community oversight of the department. And the following cases from the AJC show that:
— More than 60 employees and patrons of the Atlanta Eagle bar in Midtown Atlanta were forced to lie on the floor for an hour while APD officers looked for evidence there had been public sex acts in the club. Eight were arrested but all those charges were dropped. Initially, top APD commanders insisted the operation was by the book. The resulting lawsuits cost taxpayers more than $1.5 million. After the first lawsuit was settled, six officers were fired for lying.
— A series of lawsuits were filed, and settled, because officers conducted strip searches in public or conducted road-side cavity searches. Some of those officers were fired.
— A 61-year-old woman was arrested when she questioned an officer’s order that she and another person move from the sidewalk where she was having a conversation; that cost taxpayers $20,000
Community trust in a police department is crucial if the department expects any sort of respect or even compliance from the very communities they spend the majority of their time in. Otherwise, you have people who simply don’t respect the authority of law enforcement, having potentially disastrous effects for the entire city.
When you are arrested and charged with a crime, mistrust for the police handling your arrest will only make things more difficult. But, as a criminal suspect and a defendant, they aren’t on your side. You need someone on your side when you are within the legal system.
Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to help.