The Atlanta Public Schools Police Department Chief Ronald Applin, center, and the school district’s police officers are shown in this 2016 photograph taken during a swearing-in ceremony for officers. The school district’s police department was founded in 2016.  HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

APS police: Student’s report of abduction attempt during recess is unfounded

Atlanta Public Schools police have determined an elementary student’s report of an attempted abduction during recess is “unfounded.”

The district, in a news release issued late Thursday, said that the APS police investigation is now finished.

An 8-year-old girl reported that a gun-toting stranger allegedly tried to abduct her as she played outside Deerwood Academy during recess on Monday.

But the school district says that allegation is not supported by the evidence, including video.

“The evidence collected, including the surveillance footage, testimonials from students and adults and the timeline of events does not support the student’s allegation of being attacked on the playground by an armed man. APSPD has notified the student’s family that these allegations are unfounded,” the district said in a statement. “In addition, the investigation determined that school safety protocols were in place, ensuring that all students were supervised and accounted for at all times, including during the time of the alleged incident.” 

The student reported  the man choked her, pointed a gun in her face and tried to kidnap her during recess. The man allegedly left when a teacher blew a whistle to signal that students should return to class.

The girl and her mother spoke to Channel 2 Action News earlier this week.

The Atlanta Police Department has twice criticized the APS police response, saying the school system  should have notified the city police force earlier. 

Atlanta police said it took the school district hours to notify the city of the report, hindering its ability to immediately assist with the investigation. APS disputed that and said the school district alerted the Atlanta police dispatch at 1:46 p.m. Monday, just 10 minutes after it “became aware of this incident.” APS said its own police officers were “immediately dispatched” to the scene and began to investigate.

But an Atlanta police spokesman continued to criticize the school district’s police response on Thursday and urged APS to review its protocols.

“The idea that the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department believes that a single phone call placed to a dispatch desk suffices as ‘notice’ of a serious assault against a child is laughable at best, or poor police work, at worst,” 

said APD spokesman Carlos Campos. “Reaching out to the local zone commander more than four hours after the incident was grossly inadequate for us to mobilize our resources for immediate assistance.”

APS said that dispatch recordings confirm that the school system’s police department contacted Atlanta police 10 minutes after it learned of the allegation. 

“Further, as a courtesy, APS Police Chief Ronald Applin contacted APD’s local commander at the end of the day (6:00 p.m.) to ensure that APD was fully aware of the incident,” the district said in a statement.

APS has a history with the Atlanta Police Department.

In 2016, the school district formed its own police force, ending an annual $5.6 million contract with the city to provide security services for APS schools.

The district decided to replace city police officers with its own school police force to patrol schools and APS properties. 

APS plans to hold a news conference Friday to review surveillance footage, the timeline and other details from the investigation. 

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