ROSWELL, Ga. — For all its much-publicized shortcomings over the past year, the Roswell Police Department maintains a solid record for professionalism and public safety.
That’s the finding of public safety consulting firm Center for Public Safety Management, which was hired to assess the agency after a series of incidents led to widespread media attention and criticism.
Former Police Chief Rusty Grant called for the analysis last July after videos surfaced showing incidents involving on-duty officers violating or stretching standard practices.
The first incident — and by far the most widely circulated — involved 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 on suspicion of DUI.
Representatives from the Center for Public Safety Management said the city has a very low crime rate. However, there are still areas for improvement, a full 83 areas the report recommends changing, including adding staff and a uniform discipline code.
New Police Chief James W. Conroy, who was sworn in this summer, said the department has already completed or is in the process of completing 60 of the 83 recommendations listed in the report.
Roswell settles lawsuit with media company
After nearly a year of legal sparring, the City of Roswell settled a lawsuit filed by Appen Media Group over alleged violations of the Georgia Open Records Act.
City Council members voted unanimous Oct. 28, with no discussion, to pay $10,500 in attorney’s fees for Appen and provide the company a year’s worth of free open records requests. As a part of the settlement, the city admits no liability.
The settlement does not bar Appen Media Group, publisher of the Herald and Crier newspapers in north Atlanta, from pursuing legal action for any future Open Records Act violations.
Appen Media Group filed suit Dec. 27, 2018 in the Fulton County Superior Court, alleging that the Roswell Police Department had consistently withheld vital information about criminal incidents from public records. Several police records obtained by the company contained large blocks of redacted material or little to no information in the officer’s incident report.
The lawsuit also alleged that the Roswell Police Department had failed to meet time requirements for supplying the reports after requests were made.
Roswell welcomes new police chief
A new police chief took the reins in Roswell over the summer.
James Conroy officially began his new role July 29 and was sworn in Aug. 2, taking over for Capt. Helen Dunkin, who served as the interim head of the department for the previous seven months. She was chosen for the position following the retirement of Rusty Grant at the end of 2018.
Conroy previously served with the DeKalb County Police Department for 28 years and as the Dekalb County Chief of Police since 2013.
As Roswell chief, Conroy will oversee a 200-employee department, including 150 sworn officers. The department serves a population of almost 100,000 and 43 square miles of territory.
Conroy said he is experienced with several other types of law enforcement frameworks, including Community Policing, COMPSTAT, Broken Windows and Intelligence-led Policing models of police management.
Conroy holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Waldorf University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia Southern University. His annual salary will be $150,000.