Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Helps explain the Atlanta refugees

I have run into two people this year who I could safely call refugees. They both had good jobs (one was a teacher), houses, etc - but both could not get out of Atlanta fast enough. They left is all for a chance to live a normal life and preserve the safety of their family. The general theme was crime and violence, but there was also a bit of the unspoken, "It's hard to explain....you just have to live there ..." going on as well. This gives a bit of a perspective on Atlanta that might help.
Keovongsa Siharath was arrested in Henry County on charges he punched his stepfather.

Jeffrey Churchill was charged with assault in an altercation with a woman in a mall parking lot.

Calvin Thomas was taken into custody in DeKalb County on a concealed weapons charge.

All three are now officers with the Atlanta Police Department.

More than one-third of recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have been arrested or cited for a crime, according to a review of their job applications. The arrests ranged from minor offenses such as shoplifting to violent charges including assault. More than one-third of the officers had been rejected by other law enforcement agencies, and more than half of the recruits admitted using marijuana.

“On its face, it’s troubling and disturbing,” said Vincent Fort, a state senator from Atlanta. “It would be very troubling that people might be hitting the streets to serve and protect and they have histories that have made them unqualified to serve on other departments.”

But Atlanta police say it’s not so simple. Officials have been trying without success for more than a decade to grow the department

to 2,000 officers, an effort hurt by this year’s budget crisis. With competition for recruits intense among law enforcement agencies, Atlanta has had to make concessions.

Fenton, a former Cobb County police officer, said he was more concerned with the AJC’s next finding: Twelve out of 33 graduates — 36 percent — acknowledged that they had been rejected by other law enforcement agencies, including some in metro Atlanta.

“That, frankly, is more troubling to me — especially when these people have been rejected by multiple agencies,” he said.

Three officers’ rejections stemmed from failing the psychiatric or psychological portion of police agencies’ screening processes. Others were turned away because they failed lie-detector tests or offered conflicting statements about issues such as drug use.

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