South Fulton Moves to Prevent Police Involved Shootings

Atlanta being urged to do the same

Maria Boynton
September 26, 2020 - 12:27 am
South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows says his department has nothing to hide as new police reforms are adopted

Photo Credit: City of South Fulton)

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In an effort to prevent police involved shootings, the City of South Fulton has adopted guidelines that include transparency, more accountability, and de-escalation training.

South Fulton became a city in 2017.

First introduced in 2015 by President Barack Obama, 21st Century Policing is now policy for the City of South Fulton Police Department. It was adopted this week by the city council. 

According to Chief of Police Keith Meadows “every aspect of this police department has been built on 21st Century Policing.” What the council has done, adds Meadows is “adopted an official philosophy for the organization for years to come.”

The new policing policies also include drug testing officers who kill or disfigure someone while on duty.

Meadows says it was resident and activist Marcus Coleman who pushed for the drug testing element.

Coleman is Founder and President of the human, political, and Civil Rights organization Save Ourselves.

According to Coleman it’s about full transparency and accountability. “If the victim’s system is made public then the one that caused that victim to be maimed or life lost, we should know what that person has in their system as well.”

City of South Fulton Councilwoman Helen Willis says the new policy fosters trust and “puts everybody’s minds at ease when things happen and people wonder if an officer was acting in a sane mind.” Willis goes on to say it’s about making sure to prevent any type of unnecessary unrest issue in the community due to the lack of trust or transparency.

Under 21st Century Policing Willis says the police department will have to create a use of force review board, go through and implement additional de-escalation training, provide crime statistics regularly to the community, use technology to promote transparency in fighting crime, develop neighborhood solutions as it relate to crime, and they also have to engage youth in stopping crime.  According to Willis the city is looking to bring back its Police Association (PAL) Program, to help officers engage the youth. “Our officers can engage the youth through sports” adds Willis.

The councilwoman says “our police department operates with integrity” and points out “we have not had one social injustice issue in our region.” Willis proudly laments “we are doing great things in the City of South Fulton.”

Willis says residents with ideas can contact her office via email Helen.willis@cityofsouthfultonga.gov or phone 404-803-4219. “That’s exactly what Mr. Coleman did” according to Willis “and look where we are.”

Chief Meadows says “the old practices of law enforcement are in the past.”

Meanwhile, the City of Atlanta, with 19 open police-involved shooting cases, is being urged to follow South Fulton’s lead. Civil Rights lawyer and NAACP Vice President Gerald Griggs says “I would encourage Atlanta to fully implement 21st Century Policing.”