ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addressed the rising rate of police resignations in a press briefing on Wednesday, acknowledging that it is "higher than normal" at the moment but asserting that low morale among officers is stabilizing.
11Alive's Hope Ford reported Tuesday night that 28 officers resigned in August, an additional 11 retired, and three recruits were dismissed for undisclosed reasons.
It was the second wave of APD resignations this summer. The department said that last year, it averaged about five and a half a month.
Sgt. Jason Segura, President of the International Brotherhood of Police Officer, Local 623, told Hope that the "majority of it is just the lack of support."
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The mayor Wednesday said that what Atlanta's police force was experiencing was not out of step with other cities, where mass demonstrations have been held over policing and protesters and officers have often clashed.
"We have seen a higher than normal resignation rate in APD, but I can also tell you Atlanta is not alone," Bottoms said. "Cities across the country are seeing people leave public safety."
The mayor said she was confident she and interim Chief Rodney Bryant could turn morale around, pointing to the 30 percent pay raise she secured for officers in 2018. Those raises are due to take effect next year.
She also suggested a number of officers currently leaving will try to come back, something she said has happened in the past.
"We've faced tough times before, we've faced challenges before. We've been able to get to the other side of it, and I know we'll get to the other side of this as well," Bottoms said. "As it relates to morale, what I've been told is that morale is stabilizing within APD."
Chief Bryant, who was named the interim chief after Chief Erika Shields resigned in June following the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, echoed those statements.
"As we move from the level of where we were just two months ago, we are seeing those numbers stabilize. The conversation has changed," Bryant said. "I think we are on the mend of getting better, but there's still a way to go."
As for Chief Bryan's interim status, Mayor Bottoms said that he was being evaluated to "determine if he's the one that we want to continue with as our permanent police chief."
She indicated a national search is not making much progress, "because so many cities are in flux right now and conducting their own searches."
She said consulting experts have indicated "this would not be the best time" for a national search, and so what the city will do going forward is, "provide the resources that our interim chief needs to make sure that hes able to do what he needs to do at APD."