Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DeKalb County Police Department in Disarray

I have many friends on the DeKalb County Police Department and I can tell you that the problems of the DeKalb police force outlined in an editorial in todays Dunwoody Crier are well documented as being true. I have included a few links to highlight the problems mentioned and some of the sources even come from the DeKalb Police Officers themselves from their "Anonymous" blog.

These officers who contribute to this site are probably risking their livelihood in doing so, but they must feel that by not speaking as they are, that they would be continuing to risk so much more then just a job.

The Dunwoody Crier, June 10, 2008

The DeKalb Police Department is in horrible disarray. Turnover is at an all-time high and morale is at an all-time low. CEO Vernon Jones appointed Chief Bolton over several more qualified candidates, who were actually recommended by the selection committee. Bolton came to DeKalb after being fired by the Dallas, Texas, police department.

Bolton did not buy a house in DeKalb when he moved here from Dallas. He was living in an RV in Stone Mountain Park until it was reported on TV news. Meanwhile, the 911 call center is under-staffed and emergency 911 calls are now routinely put on hold. At peak time, 911 hold times of up to 17 minutes have been reported.

Dunwoody is at the northern reach of the county and when shifts are under-staffed, Dunwoody suffers the most because our beats go unfilled. DeKalb police officers report to us that Dunwoody's three beats are almost never fully staffed. Veteran officers are leaving by the dozen to seek jobs in departments with better morale and management. Yet for those three understaffed beats, the Dunwoody tax digest contributes more than $11 million per year to the police budget.

While the line officers are very dedicated and professional, they are stretched far too thin. There are some facts that Dunwoody citizens should know regarding the performance of the DeKalb Police Department and how your tax dollars are spent:

  • DeKalb County has had four police chiefs in five years.

  • A grand jury is currently investigating spending on CEO Jones’ security detail; this entourage cost the taxpayers $600,000 in a recent year.

  • CEO Jones’ driver was recently promoted to Deputy Chief.

  • Poor morale has led to 43 officers leaving the DKPD since the beginning of 2008, including 19 in one month.

  • Chief Bolton has either forced into retirement, demoted, or reassigned 12 senior command staff since 2007. This includes one assistant chief and five deputy chiefs.

    A city of Dunwoody Police Department is clearly the answer to this extraordinary mess. We can create a professional force focused exclusively on Dunwoody, a force that provides the kind of police protection and crime prevention we need as our community becomes more densely populated and subject to increased crime. We can easily provide significantly higher police coverage and establish agreements with surrounding police forces for some specialized services (like SWAT and Search and Rescue) which we rarely need.

    Three days prior to your vote on cityhood, the DeKalb PD will have a huge display at the North Precinct. Specialized equipment such as the “mobile precincts” will be shown off. This is done at huge taxpayer expense in an attempt to influence your vote on July 15th. While the display will certainly be impressive, ask yourself, “when is the last time you saw a police officer in a school zone or proactively preventing crime in Dunwoody?” You know the other 364 days a year count too.

    Vote "Yes" on July 15th if you ever want to improve police protection, personal safety and quality of life issues in Dunwoody. Have a local voice in how your tax dollars are spent on police services. Who do you want spending your tax dollars and managing your police department: DeKalb County or your fellow citizens?
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