Understaffed Atlanta Police Department to ease up on certain cri - CBS46 News

Understaffed Atlanta Police Department to ease up on certain crimes

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Understaffed and overworked. Two adjectives that describe the Atlanta Police Department.

Starting Thursday, officers will begin a three-day stretch of 12-hour shifts as major events converge on the city. 

Thursday evening, the Sweet 16 college basketball tournament tips off at Philips Arena. Friday, Vice President Mike Pence comes to Midtown Atlanta where he's the keynote speaker at the Georgia GOP’s March fundraiser. And on Saturday, hundreds of people will participate in the "March For Our Lives" rally during the afternoon and the NCAA's Elite 8 match-up in the evening.

This is all going on as the Atlanta Police Department faces a serious shortage of officers. And that's also having an effect on which crimes APD officers will respond to.

In Atlanta's Zone 2, which includes Buckhead, there are high-end shops than anywhere else in the city. As of this week, according to Zone 2's commander, Maj. Barry Shaw, officers who patrol the area are easing up on how they respond to shoplifting crimes.

It's a controversial move but one that the department feels is necessary, given the fact that it's short roughly 300 officers.

Starting this week, a person caught shoplifting might not go straight to jail. If it's a misdemeanor shoplifting case, that person will be issued a citation to appear in court.

Shaw says they'll still respond to shoplifting calls, but not as aggressively.

"Instead of taking sometimes two, three, four, officers out of service at one time processing shoplifters, we just going to use one," Shaw told CBS46 News.

According to Sam Massell, the former Atlanta mayor who's now the head of the Buckhead Coalition, they understand that with the police department being so short-staffed, officers should be available for more serious crimes.

"It's a question of whether you want a policeman responding to someone who holds the gun on you in a shopping center or whether you want a policeman responding to someone who stole and a shirt or a belt," says said Massell.

CBS46 will keep you posted.

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