Reed reorganizes APD command structure

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Mayor Kasim Reed announced promotions and lateral reassignments within the Atlanta Police Department (APD) during his first press conference as mayor at City Hall on Tuesday.

“We hope that it will improve the morale,” Acting Chief George Turner said of the changes.

Acting Chief Turner (center) speaks while Mayor Reed (right) looks on. - Photo by Jonathan Springston

Acting Chief Turner (center) speaks while Mayor Reed (right) looks on. – Photo by Jonathan Springston, Senior Staff Writer, Atlanta Progressive News

Key promotions included Pete N. Andresen from deputy chief of field operations to assistant police chief, Ernest Finley from Zone 3 Commander to deputy of field operations, Shawn Jones from airport command to deputy chief of support services, and Calvin Moss from special operations to deputy chief of criminal investigations.

James Polite, public information officer for the APD, told APN there were no demotions and that all those promoted have at least 20 years service with the APD.

Reed has stated he wants to hire a permanent police chief within the first 120 days of his administration. Turner, regardless of whether he will be the permanent chief or not, appeared ready for the long haul Tuesday.

“What I plan to do is build strong and real relationships with the community and build strong and real relationships with businesses,” he said. “Our goal is to fight crime and reduce crime and be responsible to citizens and accountable.”

Turner said APD officials were meeting Tuesday to begin hashing out public safety improvements. He noted the APD will be able to add 50 officers thanks to an $11.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Reed said one reason for Tuesday’s reorganization is because he did not want “a vacuum of leadership while we conduct a search” for a permanent chief. He also redoubled his promise to improve public safety overall.

“I will make the decisions and move the resources to areas that will save lives,” Reed said.

The mayor said reopening recreation centers, or “centers of hope” as he dubs them, is a way to keep young people out of trouble.

During his inaugural address Monday, Reed announced Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. will dedicate one dollar from every CNN Center tour ticket sold toward the city’s recreation centers. Reed said Tuesday that his administration is looking for other similar partnerships with non-profits and the private sector.

“We’re having a very robust fundraising effort to keep these recreation centers open,” he said. “This really is about providing young people with opportunities I had when I was a young person that are being taken away.”

“You all are going to be very surprised about how the corporate community is stepping up and writing checks,” he added.

The mayor also fielded questions on two other areas: the September raid on the Eagle and the administration’s approach to panhandling.

On the Eagle, Reed hesitated to comment deeply on the matter because of ongoing litigation. When asked for his thoughts on Councilmember Michael Julian Bond’s resolution asking the city to drop its charges against the Eagle and offer a formal apology, Reed said, “I have not read Bond’s ordinance but I am certainly supportive of the idea.”

When asked to clarify his administration’s proposed approach to panhandling, Reed said it is important to “enforce the laws that are on the book right now” and sought to separate the issue of homelessness from panhandling.

“I want to lead a discussion on panhandling and I am deeply compassionate toward people who are homeless,” he said. ”This is not any hard-hearted crackdown but I want to make clear that walking up to people on the streets and asking them for money is not acceptable and I’m not going to have it.”

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