In recent years, working foot patrol has been a form of punishment in the Atlanta Police Department. Crashed your police cruiser? Serve a few days on the foot beat. Now, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it’s an assignment for rookie cops as soon as they come out of the Police Academy. The department has split up the 24-person class that graduated in late April and assigned them foot beats in two of the city’s highest crime areas. The program, pushed by the Atlanta City Council, is meant to cut down on crime, and create a connection between officers and communities.
“People want to see police officers on the street,” said Council member Caesar Mitchell, whose late father was an Atlanta police sergeant who walked a beat. “People want them out of the cars. They want to interact with them.” So far, some people greet the officers, but most flash them looks of irritation. Will officers be able to get closer to the community? “As much as they’ll let me,” says one. On a recent evening, two officers walked past a group of New Black Panther Party members, dressed in black and gathered in a parking lot. The group’s leader, Najee Muhammad, said the area doesn’t need foot patrol officers. “This is a black-run community,” he said. “We police ourselves.”