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|APD's Chief Turner responds to residents' concerns over Zone 5 patrol plan|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|May 05, 2011 16:04|
In light of the Atlanta Police Department's recent announcement that its Zone 5 commander, Major Khirus E. Williams, was stepping down from his post, APD Chief George Turner issued a statement today reassuring Midtown residents that the police department considers the district's security vital to the city's well-being.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Major Williams claims to have been “forced into retirement” after leaking an internal proposal that would have eliminated community-oriented policing. The AJC also reports that Williams was a 26-year veteran of the force and was considered as a possible replacement for Chief Richard Pennington after his retirement in 2010.
Today, Chief Turner responded to accusations today that the department was removing its foot soldiers in Midtown, leaving only officers in patrol cars to respond to 911 calls.
“A great deal has been written and said recently concerning changes supposedly being considered for police resources in Zone 5’s Midtown precinct. It is vital that stakeholders in Midtown – business and residential – are receiving accurate information on the Atlanta Police Department’s plans to ensure the highest levels of safety and security are maintained,” Turner said in a statement posted on the APD website.
“The department is discussing ideas so that mobile patrols (officers in cars) adequately cover Zone 5, ensuring our ability to quickly respond to 911 calls at all times. However, there are no plans by the Atlanta Police Department to do away with officer patrols on foot, bicycle, motorcycle and Segway. Those important, ground-level patrols will continue. Mayor Reed’s commitment to continue increasing the size of the department, coupled with the assignment on Wednesday of several new officers from the most recent police recruit class will allow the department to make both of those priorities possible. Zone 5 will continue to be policed with the same vigor and professionalism that it always has. Its vibrant, diverse mix of businesses and residents is far too important to the city’s overall well-being to allow any setbacks in public safety. It simply will not happen. I will soon appoint a new commander for the zone who will be able, articulate, energetic and accountable to me and to the citizens whom he or she will serve,” he added.
Community organizations like the The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance have asked Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Turner to hold a public meeting while accusing the APD of making the move out of political motivation. The group sent an open letter to Reed, members of the Atlanta City Council and Chief Turner this week.
"We implore you in this open letter, in your role as elected and public officials, to reassure the greater community that a decision over a political difference of opinion will not stand – one that truly had the best interest of the Midtown and surrounding community at its core. As a neighborhood-based community service organization we find it upsetting and discomforting that one of the best of Atlanta’s very finest would be ousted for genuinely serving our community. It was Major Williams’ opinion, and one in which we agree, that he was serving the best safety interests of our community by calling out an utmost destructive proposal to eliminate critical policing strategies," the letter reads.
Top photo: Atlanta Police Chief George Turner (file photo)
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