WHEREAS, the vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their jobs with respect for their communities and in compliance with the law; and
WHEREAS, historically, the culture in many police departments has been to discourage officers from speaking up when they see colleagues engaged in inappropriate or unlawful behavior, even when they have a legal obligation to do so, for fear of reprisal; and
WHEREAS, as the country continues to grapple with continued incidents of police excessive force and/or misconduct, local governments must adopt policies which make it mandatory that officers report incidents of misconduct by their fellow officers; and
WHEREAS, examples of police misconduct include not only the excessive use of force, but also dishonesty, coercion, torture to force confessions, or abuse of authority; and
WHEREAS, mandatory reporting of officers’ misconduct and proscribed behaviors, including those that might compromise an officer’s wellness, should be explicit in standard operating procedures; and
WHEREAS, the policy should inform officers that intervening can prevent or stop misconduct, reduce harm to individuals, help build confidence with the community and preserve the integrity of the Department; and
WHEREAS, until recently, few police agencies have demonstrated the commitment and resolve to peer intervention as a core set of skills and behaviors reinforced by a department-wide cultural commitment, as many of the recent police incidents appear to demonstrate; and
WHEREAS, a report completed by the Council on Criminal Justice, attached as “Exhibit A”, found that departments that have adopted “duty to intervene” policies have lower numbers of police killings per capita compare to those that do not; the report also found that in January 2021, only 72 of the 100 largest police agencies had adopted duty to intervene policies, with 21 of those adopting polices after June 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Atlanta Police Department’s Standard Operating procedures “Duty to Intervene” directive currently states that “ Any employee present and observing or who becomes aware of another employee exhibiting behaviors or performing actions that violate any departmental policy, state or federal law, or local ordinance shall intercede to prevent such behavior or actions, when in a position to do so safely. Interceding employees shall report their observations and actions to an on-duty supervisor immediately following the safe resolution of the event”; and
WHEREAS, the Department should consider expanding its directive to include additional instances when an officer should intercede by adding criteria and protections for officers such as the following:
1. Implement a process for officers who report or intervene to be protected from retaliation of any
2. Establish set standards for issues in the field that may indicate a situation has escalated and
there is a duty to intercede;
3. Require supervisors to document all incidents when a physical intervention occurred; and
4. Consider attempts to intervene or the reception of intervention as mitigating factors in
disciplinary decisions resulting from misconduct investigations as appropriate.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA, that the Atlanta Police Department is encouraged to amend its Standard Operating Procedures for the purpose of expanding APD.SOP 2010, 4.2.51 regarding the “Duty to Intervene” so as to consider providing additional responsibilities for police officers to intercede when fellow officers are engaged in using excessive force or other unlawful activities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Atlanta Police Department is requested to share with the City Council any revisions to its Standard Operation Procedures that will expand its policy and training for officers on their responsibilities regarding the duty to intervene.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that all resolutions and parts of resolutions in conflict herewith are hereby waived to the extent of the conflict.