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In Wake Of Rayshard Brooks' Killing, Atlanta Mayor Orders Police Department Reforms

Police officers and demonstrators get into a scuffle during a protest that took place in May, over the killing over George Floyd and police brutality.
Mike Stewart
Police officers and demonstrators get into a scuffle during a protest that took place in May, over the killing over George Floyd and police brutality.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a series of administrative orders on Monday that will require the police department to reform its use-of-force rules and amp up de-escalation tactics, three days after Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer.

"Friday evening we saw the murder of Rayshard Brooks," Bottoms said in a press conference, "It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste."

The move comes as local governments across the nation are reexamining police department budgets, and implementing various reforms.

In Atlanta, Bottoms' orders will require the police department to report all uses of deadly force to a citizens review board.

Atlanta police officers will also be "duty bound" to intervene and prevent another officer from using force "which is beyond reasonable," Bottoms said, and then to immediately report the use of force to a supervisor.

The orders will stipulate that officers must use de-escalation techniques before using deadly force, and require officers de-escalate more generally in their policing, according to Bottoms.

"We saw the worst happen on Friday night with Mr.Brooks. ... it angered me and it saddened me beyond words," Bottoms said. "This is the first of a series of actions and steps that we will take."

The move comes as demonstrators across the U.S. have chanted the demand "Defund The Police."

Activists say reform is not the same as defunding police departments, which would replace officers with other trained professionals, such as social workers, to respond to noncriminal disputes, a step the city of San Francisco took on Friday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hannah Hagemann is a 2019 Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she will work at NPR's National Desk and Weekend Edition.

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