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Police union clout to be tested with endorsement for Atlanta mayor's race

Historically, a police union endorsement in an Atlanta mayor’s race is a pretty big deal. This election, it might be a mixed bag at best.

ATLANTA — An Atlanta police union is expected to soon make an endorsement in the mayor’s race --- and it raises questions about how valuable that support will be.  

Historically, a police union endorsement in an Atlanta mayor’s race is a pretty big deal. This election, it might be a mixed bag at best. Candidates for mayor have spent much of this year telling residents what they’ll do about crime.

Next week, a police union is expected to endorse former Mayor Kasim Reed for re-election this year.  Reed has promised to hire at least 500 more APD officers.

"If the police union is endorsing you and certainly they have confidence in you, that means you can work together, and reduce crime rates in the city," said  Dr. William Boone, a political scientist of Clark Atlanta University.

Yet, at the same time "there are communities," Boone said, "that in the city of Atlanta do not have a favorable impression of the police."

Some of those communities ignited with anger two summers ago – putting police and their backers on the defensive.  Yet, violent crime has gotten outsized attention – in particular, in Buckhead, which is threatening to form a separate city.

"It’s really an attempt to pacify the residents of Buckhead," said communications strategist Maynard Eaton. "Police don’t have the clout, the cachet, the universal appeal they once had. Police and community relationships are strained."

A police union endorsement of Reed would be in spite of the ongoing criminal investigation which is still targeting members of Reed’s 2010-2018 administration. Reed himself has faced no charges.