Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Takes Immediate Action Upon Receiving Use of Force Advisory Council’s 14-day Recommendations
Atlanta — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms received the Use of Force Advisory Council’s 14-day recommendations as mandated in Administrative Order 2020-18. The Advisory Council provided 10 early action recommendations to Mayor Bottoms spanning three focus areas: Law and Policy, Police Culture and Mindsets, and Community and Partnerships.
“In just 14 days, the Use of Force Advisory Council has developed meaningful recommendations to begin the process of revising Atlanta’s Use of Force polices to rebuild trust in our communities,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Thank you to the members of this Advisory Council for your diligence and thoughtfulness. Together, we will harness this moment in history to reimagine our use of force policies and elevate the Atlanta Police Department as a national model for modern policing.”
Upon receiving the Advisory Council’s recommendations, Mayor Bottoms immediately acted upon three of the 10 recommendations by issuing three Administrative Orders and a letter to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB). The remaining seven recommendation are under legal and operational review by Mayor Bottoms’ Administration to determine further action.
The recommendations that have been adopted and acted upon by the Administration are:
Commit to identifying policies to improve officer compliance and public transparency of captured body worn camera footage,
Create a centralized repository for witness footage of use of force by officers, and
Extend powers and community awareness of Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB).
The first Administrative Order directs the Chief of Police to identify policies and procedural changes to further improve body worn camera compliance from the current level of 94 percent. The Order also directs the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to outline improvements to existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to improve transparency and responsiveness to public requests for officer footage.
The second Administrative Order directs the Chief Information Officer to develop a platform that allows the public to submit recordings of use of force violations. The recordings will be incorporated into future use of force investigations, ensuring that public recordings are included with APD footage in decisions. Further, it directs the development of SOPs to outline the use of videos during investigations, retention policies on citizen submissions and providing access to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board for independent investigation.
The third Administrative Order directs the Chief of Staff and City Attorney to work with the ACRB to identify measures to further strengthen the organization. These measures include legislative, budgetary, and/or operational needs to begin a proactive review by ACRB of all deadly use of force cases. Mayor Bottoms also issued a letter to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board highlighting the importance of their independent perspective and critical role in maintaining accountability. ACRB received a $427,000 budget increase for FY2021 to support new staff, community outreach and resolution review.
The Use of Force Advisory Council consists of 28-members of the Atlanta community and held its first meeting on June 10, 2020. The Council’s 10 early actions are outlined below:
Commit to revising the Use of Force continuum in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to increase specificity and align with best practices;
Ensure that changes taken under the Mayor’s Administrative Orders 2020-18 align with best practice policy changes from other cities and continue measures for accountability;
Commit to identifying policies to improve officer compliance and public transparency of captured body worn camera footage;
Create a centralized repository for witness footage of use of force by officers;
Mandate immediate drug testing for officers when a use of force incident resulting in serious injury or death occurs;
Commit to re-evaluating and revising mission, vision, core values, and oath
of the Atlanta Police Department;
Conduct additional screenings – including mental health and implicit bias assessments – for all applicants during the recruiting process, and on an ongoing basis for all officers;
Require more exhaustive background checks with attention to record of complaints from other agencies, previous applications to police departments, and social media sentiment;
Extend powers and community awareness of Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB); and
Begin to evaluate policies, procedures, and partner organizations for least harm approach to reduce the likelihood of use of force long-term, including use of non-law enforcement officials for community crisis response and expansion of the pre-arrest diversion program.
In the coming weeks, the Advisory Council will submit its 45-day recommendations.
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