An Atlanta police major faces a 15-day suspension without pay after a city law department investigation of two traffic stops involving Mayor Kasim Reed’s older brother.
The disciplinary action against Maj. Rodney Bryant was announced on Monday, the same day the city released results of its investigations.
Mayor Reed’s brother, Tracy F. Reed, kept his city job and continued driving -- sometimes in a city-owned vehicle -- after he was detained in May for driving on a suspended license. When a local television station aired footage of another traffic stop in late October, the city launched two separate investigations and he resigned from his job in the Office of Contract Compliance.
The city law department focused on whether Tracy Reed received preferential treatment from police during the traffic stops on May 4 and Oct. 28. Bryant, a precinct commander, intervened during both incidents, according to the investigation.
The investigation found that, after being stopped in October for an expired tag, Tracy Reed called Police Chief George Turner, who then called Bryant, a precinct commander, and told him to go to the scene. Turner told investigators that Reed told him there was “an identity issue” but that he did not know other details.
The investigation found that Bryant failed to get all the information available before allowing Tracy Reed to drive away with an expired and suspended license.
At that time, there was a bench warrant out for his arrest, issued in Atlanta Municipal Court on Oct. 6 after Reed failed to appear to answer a charge of driving on a suspended license. It was the latest of several failures to appear, according to police reports.
But the law department’s investigation found that the officers at the scene did not know about the warrant because such warrants are not included in the Atlanta Criminal Information Center database.
In an interview earlier this month, Mayor Kasim Reed said footage of the October stop, showing Bryant returning Tracy Reed’s license and letting him drive off in a black Lexus, “certainly shows that he was treated differently.”
“I did not request that anyone provide special treatment for my brother,” the mayor said in the interview.
In the May incident, an officer was going to take Tracy Reed to jail after he stopped Reed in southwest Atlanta while driving another person’s black Chevrolet Suburban. The officer, running what was described as a random vehicle registration check, found that the tags were for a Honda Accord.
Reed told the officer he didn’t have his license with him, but the officer ran a search and found that Reed’s license had been suspended in January 2006 for failure to appear in court. In any case, Reed’s license had expired in September 2006, according to the police report.
Bryant told the responding officer to give Reed a copy of charges and then release him, which the officer did, according to the law department’s investigation.
The decision to suspend Bryant was consistent with previous disciplinary action imposed on police officers for similar violations, Mayor Reed’s office said in a statement. Bryant declined to comment through a police department spokesman.
Meanwhile, the city’s human resources department, which conducted a separate investigation, said it will change the policy governing the use of city vehicles.
All employees who operate city vehicles will be required to provide consent for review of their motor vehicle records. Departments that have vehicles will be required to maintain logs and will be audited twice a year by the office of Fleet Services. The human resources department called for a city-wide review of all employees who are authorized to take vehicles home overnight to make sure they are complying with the the vehicle use policy.
And there will be a city-wide review of departments to determine whether or not they need to have assigned vehicles. Atlanta has a motorized equipment fleet totaling about 4,700 units, according to the city’s most recent budget.
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