By John Schaffner
johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

Mayor Kasim Reed’s recent choice of Interim Chief George N. Turner to become Atlanta’s chief of police has drawn support from several members of City Council, and he is expected to be confirmed when council returns from recess in mid-August.

An Atlanta native, Turner has 29 years of law enforcement experience with the city’s police department, including work as a family and youth services section police major, zone commander, human resources commander and deputy chief of police. He was appointed Interim Chief of Police by Mayor Reed in January.

Dist. 9 City Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who represents a small portion of west Buckhead and whose district is in Zone 2, said, “I think he will be a good choice. He has the experience with the department and the credentials to be chief.”

Dist. 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean told the Buckhead Business Association on July 22, “I hear he is very, very popular with the police officers. So, hopefully, morale will go up and everyone will feel inclined to service us even better.”

During the six-month period since Turner’s appointment as interim chief of police, the Atlanta Police Department’s performance records show improvement in crime levels, crime case resolution and recruitment. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation certified crime reports from January to April of this year, crime in Atlanta is down 14 percent compared with the same period in 2009. This represents a reduction of 22.7 percent in violent crime (including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and a 12.3 percent decrease in property crimes (including auto theft, burglary and larceny).

Crime case resolution also has improved since January, compared with the same period in 2009. The clearance rate improved most strongly for homicide and rape. Those clearance rates are now double the national average.

In Turner’s six months as interim chief, Atlanta police performance records show marked improvement in crime levels, crime case resolution and recruitment:
  • 14 percent reduction in overall crime, with violent crimes (including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) down 22.7 percent and property crimes (including auto theft, burglary and larceny)  down 12.3 percent;
  • Clearance rates for crime cases, particularly those involving homicide and rape, are now double the national average;
  • In the past six months, APD has seen a major uptick in hiring, adding 147 officers to the force.
Source: city of Atlanta

Additionally, in the past six months, the APD has hired the second-highest number of police officers compared with any other six-month period in the past 10 years. Between January 1 and July 1, APD hired 147 officers in collaboration with the Atlanta Police Foundation. By contrast, in the same six-month period, APD hired 35 officers in 2009; 80 officers in 2008; 89 officers in 2007; 81 officers in 2006; and 62 officers in 2005.

Vacancies were above 100 positions in January 2010. As of June 30, the APD had only 26 vacancies, the lowest level in several years, according to reports from the mayor’s office. In 2011, the authorized strength of APD sworn officers will be 1,859, slightly short of the city’s long-standing goal to have a police force of 2,000 police officers.

“Interim Chief Turner knows the city’s neighborhoods and the people who live in them,” Reed said. “The results we are seeing suggest we are moving in the right direction, and I want to build on the progress we have made. To disrupt that momentum would not be in the best interest of the city’s residents.”

Reed said that Interim Chief Turner’s career demonstrates that the city of Atlanta can grow and develop strong future leaders. “I think it’s vital that our men and women in blue know that if they are loyal, work hard and give their career in law enforcement their full energy and effort, they can ultimately lead the Atlanta Police Department,” the mayor said.

Turner joined the Atlanta Police Department on July 24, 1981. He was educated in the Atlanta Public Schools system and attended Clark Atlanta University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Saint Leo University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbus State University.

During his career in Atlanta, Turner served as commander of the Zone 1 precinct in northwest Atlanta, one of the most challenging crime areas of the city. During his two-year command there, overall crime dropped by 17 percent and homicides by 25 percent.

“I plan on making our department one of the best in the country,” Turner said. “With the funding for 100 additional officers and the recently approved salary increase, we are headed in the right direction.”

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