(The Center Square) – The number of police officers who have resigned from the Atlanta Police Department has doubled in the past three months, department records show.
According to numbers obtained by The Center Square, 42 officers resigned between June 1 and Aug. 21, which is twice the number of officers who left the department in the first three months of the year.
It’s also a sharp contrast compared with the number of officers who left the department around the same time in 2019. Four officers resigned in both June and August of 2019, records show.
Atlanta Police Department spokesperson Rhonda Frost confirmed the department had seen an increase in resignations and retirements in recent months. Between Jan. 1 and March 1, 21 officers resigned or retired from the department, records show.
“We attribute it to a variety of things to include, some reaching eligibility for retirement, others seeking opportunities with other agencies or a change in career, and a host of other personal reasons,” Frost said.
The recent increase in resignations and retirements happened on the heels of police protests and racial tensions in Atlanta.
A string of demonstrations, which at times turned violent, erupted in downtown Atlanta in June after a series of killings involving unarmed Black men.
George Floyd, a Black man, was killed on Memorial Day during an arrest by a Minneapolis police officer.
Closer to home, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick in February when he was confronted by father-and-son duo Gregory and Travis McMichael. Arbery was shot and killed during a fight over Travis McMichael's shotgun.
Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back in June in a Wendy's parking lot in Atlanta after Brooks ran from police officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. The three wrestled in the parking lot when Rolfe tried to take Brooks into custody for failing a sobriety test.
Some protesters carried anti-police signs and rioters burned police cars, set up barriers and destroyed businesses and property in Atlanta. Rioters in Minneapolis also burned down a police station.
Activists tied to the protests have called on the government to “defund the police.” The movement quickly spread to social media and among political candidates.
State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, was one of most vocal members of the General Assembly, calling for less state spending on law enforcement and for police reforms.
“Many (most?) of the interactions law enforcement have with people do not involve weapons, or necessitate that the officer have or use a weapon,” Clark said on Twitter. “What if there was an unarmed division of the police force, that dealt with these types of issues, and every recruit had to serve in this unarmed division for at least one year (maybe longer).”
According to records, most of the officers who resigned from the Atlanta Police Department may have forfeited their full pension in the past three months.
Officers must work for the department for 10 years to be 100 percent vested in the retirement system. The average number of years of service for the officers who resigned between June 1 to Aug. 21 was about 3.4 years.