The Atlanta City Council approved several items aimed at reforming public safety during Monday’s virtual meeting that continued into Tuesday due to 18 hours of public comment.
The council approved legislation to adopt the “8 Can’t Wait” principles and amend the Atlanta Police Department’s standard operating procedures to incorporate use of force alternatives. The “8 Can’t Wait” platform is part of Campaign Zero, a police reform initiative. The reforms in the legislation aim to improve community interactions with the police and reduce the number of violent encounters through the following principles:
• Banning chokeholds and strangleholds
• Requiring de-escalation strategies
• Requiring a warning before shooting
• Exhausting all alternatives before shooting
• Duty to intervene (from other officers)
• Banning shooting at moving vehicles
• Requiring use of force continuum
• Requiring comprehensive reporting involving use of force against civilians.
Councilman Antonio Brown introduced what has been dubbed the Rayshard Brooks Bill authorizing the chief financial officer to amend the Fiscal Year 2021 general fund budget to transfer $73.3 million from various departments in the general fund to a trust fund account to give the council to receive the report on “recommendations for systemic changes, reinventing the culture of operations” in the police force.
After more than 18 hours of public comment that forced the council to split the meeting over two days, along with technical delays in playback of the 1,251 messages, Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit introduced legislation to limit recorded public comment hours from 4 to 7 p.m. on the Sunday before the normal Monday council meetings. The resolution was ultimately approved, but Councilman Antonio Brown voted against it saying he believed the move disenfranchised the public.
Other items approved during the meeting included:
• An ordinance authorizing the Atlanta Police Department, Department of Finance, and Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services to conduct a study on expanding the Atlanta Police Department to include a crisis intervention division or other specialized unit as a social service component of the police department.
• An ordinance requiring the Atlanta Police Department to provide information and cooperate with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office as necessary to facilitate, improve the efficiency, and enhance the transparency of investigations involving officer involved shootings, incidents of serious bodily injury, and accusations of sexual misconduct.
• A resolution requesting the Atlanta Police Department explore alternative non-lethal methods of crowd control, including stink bombs, laser dazzlers, or other methods available.