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Published on May 13th, 2015 |

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APD Chief Turner tells how technology monitors crime, officers

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner told members of the Buckhead 50 Club Tuesday night how technology has played—and continues to play—a major role in the reduction of crime in the city, forecasting where incidents likely will occur and monitoring the work of the APD’s officers.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner addresses the Buckhead 50 Club on May 12.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner addresses the Buckhead 50 Club on May 12.

Turner told the all-male audience at the Buckhead 50 Club’s monthly meeting that crime in Atlanta was 26 percent higher six years ago when he took office as chief and that crime is down to the level it was in the mid-1960s.

Turner said technology, the purchase of equipment and the hiring of human resources have helped improve the department and it was made possible because Mayor Kasim Reed decided to spend more money on public safety and the support of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

“Atlanta has the opportunity to be one of the safest cities in the nation,” Turner said.

Photo shows part of the crowd that heard APD Chief George Turner speak Tuesday, May 12.

Photo shows part of the crowd that heard APD Chief George Turner speak Tuesday, May 12.

“When I started, we didn’t have a single camera inside a patrol car, but now all of them do (have cameras),” he said. “It allows us to refute what suspects say but it also self-polices our officers.”

Turner also said each officer has a Taser on their belt and when the Taser is drawn it begins videoing the actions that follow. “We need to make sure our officers are prepared in a different manner,” he explained as well as knowing the officers are dealing properly with each situation.

Chief Turner added that, by fall, the APD will provide most of its 2008 authorized officers with body cameras.

“We are in the process of ordering 1,500 body cameras,” Turner said. Of the body cameras, 1,100 will be issued to patrol officers, 250 are for corrections officers and 200 for airport officers.

“All calls that come into the 911 center are synced with our video integration center,” Turner said. “Now we have more than 4,900 cameras that are integrated into this network. Our intent is to grow this network of cameras to more than 12,000 before this administration is over (in January 2018).”

Police Chief Turner answers questions at the end of his speech to the Buckhead 50 Club.

Police Chief Turner answers questions at the end of his speech to the Buckhead 50 Club.

Turner said the coverage of the city with real-time video monitors and analytical technology also allows the department to predict where the next crime will take place.

But in addition to providing information on crimes in progress and where crimes might occur next, the department’s new technology also monitors what the officers are doing during their shifts.

“We put in a rocket system, which is really a locator system to determine where they are, and can go back 30 days to determine where they were patrolling and how fast they were going during those patrols to determine the patterns of crime,” Turner explained.

“Everyone is scrutinizing this profession more than at any time during my history,” Turner said.

Regarding human resources, Turner said the department is authorized at 2008 offices and presently has 30 vacancies. He added that the department gets thousands of job applicants each year

Police Chief George Turner, left, with Buckhead 50 Club President Michael Moore.

Police Chief George Turner, left, with Buckhead 50 Club President Michael Moore.

and hires 200 to 250 people annually.

“It costs $100,000 to take a person from recruit to officer on the street,” Turner said. But he added that the APD’s attrition number is now down to 5 percent.

Buckhead 50 Club member Jeff Lebow asked the police chief, “What’s being done to avoid having another Ferguson, (Mo.), or Baltimore (situation)” right here in Atlanta?

“When you look at the demographics of this city, we have a great environment of a cross section of different people in this city,” Turner responded. “The police department reflects the demographics of the community. I think that’s huge.”

Turner also said the Atlanta department provides situational training of officers that makes a difference. “We have the longest training program in the Southeast,” he explained.

APD Zone 2 Commander Major Van Hobbs, at right in background,  listens to his chief answer questions at the Buckhead 50 Club meeting.

APD Zone 2 Commander Major Van Hobbs, at right in background, listens to his chief answer questions at the Buckhead 50 Club meeting.

After the meeting had concluded, BuckheadView asked both Chief Turner and APD Zone 2 Commander Major Van Hobbs about the situation that occurred in Buckhead last weekend where a prominent electronic billboard apparently was hacked and displayed a pornographic image of a man’s postrerior.

Both said the matter is not in the hands of Homeland Security, which is investigating the matter because it apparently was done by an individual located somewhere out west and over 100 billboards were hacked in different locations across the country at virtually the same time and same way.

The billboard that was hacked in Buckhead is one that is located in a building at the southeast corner of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads and faces toward West Paces Ferry Road. Controversy has surrounded the electronic billboards in this building since they were installed a couple of years ago.

Although the company that operates the electronic billboards in the Buckhead building has said actions have been taken to see that this type of hacking will not happen again, Chief Turner was asked, if these billboards pose a particular risk for criminal activity and should they not be allowed.

Turner told BuckheadView that is not a decision for the police department to get involved in. He said his department will simply have to deal with any criminal misuse of them as the cases arise.

The Buckhead 50 Club, which is Buckhead’s oldest continuously running civic club since 1932, meets the second Tuesday of each month (except July) at the American Legion Post 140 at Chastain Park.

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