The city of Sandy Springs was mostly spared from the crime that was a byproduct of peaceful protests that erupted into violence, looting, vandalism and rioting May 29 through 31 in metro Atlanta and other cities nationwide in response to black individuals such as George Floyd dying at the hands of former and current police officers.
But Police Chief Ken DeSimone said his officers were dispatched to Atlanta and Dunwoody to help those cities’ police departments protect Lenox Square and Perimeter malls, respectively, the best they could. Sandy Springs’ officers, along with those from Dunwoody and other cities, helped keep about 200 cars and their occupants from entering the mall and committing more crimes just by having a large police presence, he said.
“The LPR (license plate reader) system has been fantastic” in helping identify the vehicles’ owners, DeSimone said, adding, “200-plus cars encircled the mall. … If it wasn’t for the Sandy Springs Police Department, Lenox mall would have been looted or completely looted and Perimeter Mall would have been looted.”
The chief gave an update on how his department handled the situations at both malls and in Sandy Springs during the Sandy Springs City Council’s June 2 meeting, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
None of the city’s officers were seriously hurt, but a Sandy Springs Fire Department ladder truck worth about $75,000 will need to be replaced after being damaged by violent protesters, City Manager Andrea Surratt said.
Mayor Rusty Paul said it “was a casualty with bricks and chucks of concrete thrown into it.”
DeSimone did say two Sandy Springs businesses were looted, adding “About 20 to 25 cars tried to loot. We intercepted them. We had one car that was sideswiped, and interestingly enough, (through) the great partnerships we’ve formed with the ATF and the FBI, we’ll prosecute them federally.”
Also, a small protest took place in front of Sandy Springs Police headquarters May 30 without incident, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun told a local newspaper.
Officers’ body cameras were also discussed at the meeting. They’ve been a hot topic since Louisville (Kentucky Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired June 1 after it was revealed his officers earlier in the day did not turn on their body cameras when investigating a possible curfew violation and allegedly killed a black man, David McAtee.
That incident came two and a half months after Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was shot to death by Louisville officers who broke into her 365彩票 without warning because they had a no-knock warrant, which does not require law enforcement members to identify themselves or warn they are entering a 365彩票 or business.
During the council meeting’s public comment portion, Pablo Gonzales asked about the Sandy Springs Police’s training methods in handling situations like the weekend’s protests erupting into violence and how it handles issues of racism or sexism.
“Thanks to the council several years ago, we got body cameras for all patrol officers and officers out on the street,” DeSimone said. “Each car has a camera in the cage itself. Each officer has three cameras with him at all times.”
But he said he’s concerned about his officers and the future of the law enforcement industry.
“These are tough times, tough times for law enforcement profession as a whole,” the chief said. “We’re proud of them. … One thing that worries me is I do worry about the recruiting and retention of young police officers all over the country right now.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been doing this 30-plus years and it used to be that people wanted a police car parked in their driveway. But now you’ve got the wife of a (Sandy Springs) police officer saying she doesn’t want the car parked in the driveway.”
DeSimone said the city’s residents are worried.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” he said. “They’re concerned for their businesses and the safety of their neighborhoods. But they’re so glad they live in the city of Sandy Springs and they’re so glad they have the police department they do.
“That being said, I’ve been here 11 years now, and in 11 years, we have not had one sustained complaint of racism. We’ve literally made tens of thousands of arrests and written over a million motor vehicle citations in that time.”