Atlanta’s Departing Pennington: Crime Down, Critics Remain


Departing Atlanta police chief Richard Pennington tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that although people may not like his style, crime rates are down so far that his successor will find it difficult to match what he has done. When Pennington took charge in 2002, the city was ranked the nation's third-most violent. This year, it ranked 18th. “Violent crime in Atlanta is down 39 percent; our overall crime in Atlanta is down 19 percent during my tenure,” Pennington said.

Pennington brought in a data-driven system that gives a real-time count of the arrests and crimes taking place, enabling police to react quickly to emerging trends. Still, he has been away at least 260 days, the equivalent of an entire work year. Critics say his focus on numbers created a quota system that led cops to cut corners. The police shooting of Kathryn Johnston, 92, in 2006 came about because narcotics officers were pumping up their warrants and arrests, critics say.

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