Death of Rayshard Brooks Prompts Atlanta Mayor to Reform the Use of Force in Policing

By Ayanna Gandhi

ATLANTA – Embattled Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms Monday announced that at a news conference that she would be signing a series of administrative orders that include new rules for the city’s police officers to use de-escalation methods before becoming violent and forceful.

On Friday, June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooks, Atlanta resident, was shot to death by a police officer after he was found sleeping in his car parked in a drive-thru. Mayor Lance Bottoms starts off by apologizing and stating her anger and devastation for the family of Rashard Brooks and all other victims of these police killing.

In response to the recent incident of police brutality, the mayor went into depth about what the orders she was signing would change, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, recognizing that “there is a fierce urgency of now.”

The City of Atlanta has an advisory board of citizens that helps them better implement reforms, make recommendations for new laws, and change old policies. Moreover, Mayor Bottoms also assures the public that the police and other government officials are also involved and being demanded to change.

Bottoms states that her administrative orders will call upon the Chief Operating Order, Joshua Williams, to liaison with the Interim Chief of Police, Rodney Bryant to adapt and implement an immediate reform to their current policies when it comes to violence. These reforms must comply with state laws.

She said only the “objectively reasonable” force necessary is to be used after attempting to use de-escalation techniques from here on out, and if that kind of action is taken, it must be reported to an on-duty supervisor and the Citizens Review Board. Adding on, if one police officer observes a peer using more than the required force necessary, they must intervene and immediately report it.

Another part of her order is to, as quickly as possible, gather a body to effectively articulate grievances and suggestions from the community of solutions they hope to see.

The mayor promised to continue the efforts to criminal justice reforms such as her promise to eliminate cash bail bonds. The City Council, she noted, will reallocate a large portion of their corrections budget towards community activities following the closure of their ICE facility.

Bottoms has spoken to the District Attorney about a handful of cases that have to do with Black men being victims of police brutality but has not received a response. She hopes he will take a look to help bring peace to their families.

Mayor Bottoms suggests police will also benefit from this and gain clarity in their jobs. She also says that these officers are good members of the community, and are people who volunteer and help the city; However, she stressed that recent actions have shown a disconnect and lack of proper training of correct policing and race equality.

Moving forward, she is hoping for initial recommendations by June 24. She also premises that going forward, “every citizen will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. This anger and sadness need to be put towards action and that is just what these orders will do. While they won’t bring loved ones back, it is hoped that these actions will help to avoid this in the future”

Kiesha Lance Bottoms admitted there is a lot of work to be done, but nonetheless, it is noticeably clear that police are existing to protect the citizens.

She said, “It is very clear our police officers should be guardians and not warriors within our communities.” Bottoms emphasize that residents are part of the community and the government must keep them safe and listen to their voices while trying to come up with solutions.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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