‘Higher than usual number’ of Atlanta officers call out of work

Rayshard Brooks and Garrett Rolfe

Rayshard Brooks and Garrett Rolfe

The Atlanta police department on Thursday said it is able to respond to 911 calls for those in need.

The social media announcement came hours after the department said many officers failed to show up for work.

A “higher than usual” number of Atlanta police officers didn’t go to work Wednesday night, hours after the Fulton County District Attorney announced criminal charges for two accused in the death of Rayshard Brooks.

“The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift,” Atlanta police posted on social media. “We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents.”

On Wednesday, DA Paul Howard announced charges for the two officers. One of the two, Garrett Rolfe, was fired from the department and Devin Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty.

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Neither Atlanta police nor a local union representative confirmed the number of officers involved.

Vince Champion, Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told the AJC he could not confirm which police zones were affected.

“There are officers walking off," Champion said Wednesday evening. "There are officers saying they are not going to leave the precinct unless to help another officer. Some are walking off and sitting in their personal vehicles."

Champion said he has been told APD was attempting to get back-up support from adjacent law enforcement agencies. But he said some agencies declined to help.

“Why would you put your officer in Fulton County and take the chance of this happening?” Champion said. "You have an officer who just heard what Paul Howard said, saying he’s going to be in prison for the rest of his life or put to death, and now he’s got to surrender."

Atlanta police declined to say whether the agency requested assistance from other agencies.

In an interview Wednesday night on CNN, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said morale among officers is down with the city’s police department.

“Across the country, morale is down with police departments, and I think ours is down tenfold,” she said.

The first 29 minutes don’t prepare you for the all-too-familiar tragedy that follows: a white police officer, a black male victim, lethal gunshots and questions about whether any of it was justified. It happened again in Atlanta Friday night, when Officer Garrett Rolfe fired three times at a fleeing Rayshard Brooks. Both men, 27 years old. The shooting would set off a stunning chain of events, culminating in the resignation early Saturday night by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. (Video edited by Ryon Horne, Christian Boone)