ROSWELL, Ga. — The Roswell Police Department has a strong relationship with the community, but it is troubled with low morale, high turnover and inconsistent policy, according to the agency hired to audit the department.
The Center for Public Safety Management’s analysis draft, released June 20, covers the department’s staffing, organizational structure and efficiency. It contains 86 recommendations, including suggestions for disciplining measures, leadership, morale and diversity issues.
Former Police Chief Rusty Grant called for the analysis last July after several videos surfaced showing incidents involving on-duty officers violating or stretching standard practices.
The first incident — and by far the most widely circulated — involved a video showing two officers using a coin flip app to decide the fate of a woman pulled over for speeding. Other videos showed a K-9 ignoring his handler and repeatedly biting a teenager, a 13-year-old boy intentionally being kept in a freezing car, and muted body camera footage when an off-duty officer was pulled over for DUI.
The report does not reference the incidents by name but does cite fear and low morale among police ranks because of inconsistent rules and procedures, trouble hiring and conflicting orders.
“Conflicting orders and directives emerged as a major theme” during the Center for Public Safety Management’s interviews with department members, the report says.
The report also notes “the department has experienced a great deal of personnel turnover in the last five to seven years,” and “hiring is viewed as falling behind, and there is a concern about the quality of new hires.”
Those who have stayed on said morale is low because they fear getting in trouble and are concerned by the lack of internal communication, the report says.
Those concerns extend to disciplining methods in the department.
“Internal affairs investigations take too long, according to some, and bad officers are kept on,” the report says.
To address these issues, the Center for Public Safety Management recommended that the department use progressive discipline with a standardized and consistent manner. It also suggested creating an Internal Affairs Unit and to post any disciplinary actions internally to promote transparency.
Auditors also spoke with members of the public to gauge their impression of the Roswell Police Department and its services.
While white residents said Roswell police officers are responsive, polite and approachable, members of minority communities held opposite views, the report says.
“It is beyond the scope of the present project to actually search for evidence of unequal treatment or enforcement,” the report says. “What is important here is a pervasive perception in this segment of the community that can substantially frustrate and undermine the department’s efforts at community outreach and community policing efforts. These perceptions must be immediately addressed in a coordinated and effective way.”
The Center for Public Safety Management recommends the Roswell Police Department recruit and hire more minority officers to better represent the community it serves.
The report also recommends the department begin charging for police reports. Right now, the department charges a fee for open records requests, but provides police reports for free.
The Center for Public Safety Management said the department should consider charging the public to compensate records personnel for the amount of time spent fulfilling requests.
The report also stresses that its recommendations should not be viewed as criticisms of the department but as a chance to enhance its service and vision.
To view the full report, visit roswellgov.com/pdgapanalysis.