After nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, the Dunwoody mayor has put out a call to make the city government more diverse, while the police chief said his department does reflect the population.
Police Chief Billy Grogan also said the department already bans some criticized use of force moves. According to police records, it has received 12 civilian complaints against officers in the past year, many of them unsubstantiated.
Both the city government staff and police force are mostly representative of Dunwoody’s population, according to demographics from the government and police compared to the U.S. Census data.
Mayor Lynn Deutsch said during a June 11 protest that she wants to make the city’s boards and commissions more diverse because she is “very cognizant that for years they didn’t reflect the community that we are.”
Meanwhile, the police department condemned the video of the Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, which sparked the ongoing protests around the country.
“The conduct by all of the officers involved was unacceptable,” said Police Chief Billy Grogan in a June 2 statement.
The force of 62 officers, with two vacant positions right now, mostly represents the diversity of Dunwody.
Thirteen percent of officers are Black, compared to 12% of the city’s population. Thirteen percent of officers are Latino, compared to 9% of the population. About 68% of DPD officers are White, which over-represents the 52% of White people in the city’s population. Only 3% of officers are Asian, which under-represents Asian people in Dunwoody, who make up 17% of the population.
Women are also under-represented in the Dunwoody police force, though this is a nationwide trend. According to the 2016 personnel data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice, they make up 12% of the nation’s police officers. In Dunwoody, 6% of the force are women.
“We frankly don’t have a lot of candidates apply for the department in either one of those areas,” said Grogan of the two under-represented demographics.
Dunwoody’s city staff sees a similar demographic breakdown and also under-represents Asian people and women. One percent of the city staff is Asian while 30% are women.
Use of force
No DPD policies have changed since Floyd’s death, DPD spokesperson Robert Parsons said.
However, the department already prohibits all neck restraints, including knee-to-neck or chokeholds, except in deadly-force situations when an officer would also be justified to use a firearm.
Grogan said officers have the obligation to intervene if another officer is using excessive force, such as the case in Floyd’s death.
“We can always and we should always be reviewing our policies, especially use of force or any other high-liability policies to make sure there isn’t anything we need to change,” Grogan said.
Officers should always try to deescalate a situation, Grogan said.
Grogan said officers do de escalation and use of force training each year per the state requirement, and they do firearm training twice a year. They also do mental health first-aid and some crisis intervention training.
Officers must document all uses of force, which is reviewed by multiple supervisors using the report or body camera footage. Many of the department’s use of force reports involve displaying a weapon, such as a Taser or firearm, according to a log covering the past 12 months.
In 2019, Grogan said force was used in 3.13% of the 2,201 arrests made by DPD. A majority of those incidents involved shoplifting or retail fraud, he said.
Complaints against officers
In the 12-month period ending at June 16, 2020, there were 12 complaints for seven different incidents, according to the department’s complaint record obtained through an open records request.
One complaint about an officer speeding was substantiated, according to the log. He received a verbal reprimand.
Two complaints were filed about the same officer using a racial slur during the same November 2019 incident. The log that notes it was investigated by internal affairs because of its seriousness. However, that complaint was found not to be true.
Each complaint was reviewed by three or four officers, including the police chief. In each instance, all reviewing officers agreed with each other’s evaluation of the complaint, according to the log.
The person who filed the complaint and witnesses are interviewed and the investigator comes to a conclusion whether it is true or untrue and takes appropriate disciplinary action.