ATLANTA — It's been almost a day since rumors began bubbling up about mass walkouts of officers at the Atlanta Police Department.
Though officials have tried to dispel those suggestions as "inaccurate," APD still hasn't clarified exactly what's happening within the department, despite multiple questions from 11Alive.
Over the last several hours, 11Alive has asked how many officers with the department didn’t show up during Thursday night's higher number of "call outs." Have they quit? What’s the public safety plan going forward?
While we wait for answers, our reporting shows there were some serious issues last night.
In 911 audio obtained through Broadcastify, there were long periods of dead silence, Wednesday night, on Atlanta police radios.
Operator: "Any units - 69 at 135 University Avenue southwest?"
Operator: "Code 69? A call about a person with a gun on University Avenue."
Still, no response on the police radio.
Then, this exchange from around 12:57 a.m.
Operator: "Just advising of the pending - we have an audible alarm at 1101 Ponce de Leon Avenue and the intoxicated person at 880 (inaudible) street."
It was the second time the operator had asked for an officer to respond.
Finally, there was this exchange.
Officer: "We're having our unit(s) come back to the main. We are not answering 911 calls right now due to personnel issues. If you can reach out to other zones, or I will to have them assist with our pending."
Operator: "Received. They are strapped for units also."
Operator: "Due to safety issues I'm having my units (inaudible)."
Operator: "County supports precinct."
On social media, Atlanta Police maintained that "suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate." They did, however, confirm a higher than usual number of officers called out from their shifts. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also appeared on CNN, saying it was all under control.
"Our streets won’t be any less safe because of the number of officers who have called out," she said.
The "personnel issues" came just hours after two Atlanta Police officers were charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy's drive-thru.
The police foundation said on Monday morale in the Atlanta Police Department is lower than at any time in recent memory, and officers feel they are being scapegoated without due process.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant said that some officers in the department are feeling "abandoned."
“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space," Bryant said. "But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”
In his interview with the AP, Bryant, who assumed the role when former Chief Erika Shields stepped down, did not say how many officers called out. But the news organization reports the Southeast Regional Director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Vince Champion told them that only one officer out of dozens showed up to work Thursday morning in one police precinct.
As of Thursday afternoon, neither the police department nor the City had explained what the plan for safety is moving forward.
Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore told 11Alive, even the council hadn't been briefed.
"Certainly worries us - me - because, you know, police officers are sworn officers. And one of the things they're not supposed to do is to have personnel actions like this, which are likened sort of a strike, because public safety is so important and when people call 911, particularly in a dire situation, they certainly want somebody to respond," she said.
"So, it does worry us, and the council is worried about the fact that it occurred, wanting to know where we are and looking forward to a briefing from the administration so we can adequately respond to our constituents," she added.
Both APD and Mayor Bottoms, on CNN, said the other metro-area police departments were ready to help. 11Alive reached out to many of them Wednesday night and Thursday morning. They said they still hadn't received any requests from APD, beyond helping with community protests.