"Until last week, I was proud to tell everyone that I met that I work for the Atlanta Police Department," he said in his June 10 resignation letter obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner.
His view of the department changed following the arrest of six Atlanta police officers after a video surfaced of them pulling two college students out of their car during a protest.
The incident went viral and only added to the distance and vitriol growing between law enforcement and the people they are paid to police. Cooper said the officers were following directives from higher-ups but were thrown under the bus by leadership who should have had their backs.
"The direction this department has taken is nothing more than sad," he wrote. "I was a long-time believer in our leadership, but I am now disappointed to find out just truly how poor it is."
Cooper said he had to go because he couldn't "represent a department that does not support the backbone of that very department. It's disheartening and it's demoralizing."
Officer Thomas A. Crowder also tendered his resignation.
Crowder, born and raised in Atlanta, had always dreamed of becoming a police officer, but his thoughts have soured.
"Today is my last day as a City of Atlanta employee and I would never have thought that I would be so happy to leave," he wrote in his June 17 farewell letter.
He added: "I can not see a reason that [an] officer who has been on the department less than 20 [years] would not leave. At this moment you guys have NO backing from your command staff. It is crazy that they could ask you to stay at work or even leave the precinct knowing that they are not going to have your back and is willing to fire you as soon as a citizen complains."
Cooper and Crowder's frustrations echo many police officers the Washington Examiner has heard from who are fed up being labeled public pariahs and lacking internal support of their superiors.
Like Atlanta, police morale across the country has dropped while retirements and resignations have hit all-time highs. A June survey of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit Washington-based think tank, showed a 45% increase in the retirement rates and an 18% increase in resignations across the board in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year.
"We are in uncharted territory right now," PERF's Executive Director Chuck Wexler said. "Policing is being challenged in ways I haven't seen, ever."
Not only do police departments face challenges retaining officers, but they have also had a hard time pulling in new recruits.
The backlash against police officers saw a big uptick following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. After Floyd's death came the shootings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.
Outgoing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has come under intense scrutiny for not being tough enough on crime, has blamed Atlanta's soaring crime and 50% jump in murders on Republicans ending COVID-19 restrictions early and gun laws.
The mayor and governor's office did not return multiple requests for comment on the crisis from the Washington Examiner.
Silence is the status quo, Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, told the Washington Examiner.
White is behind the move to turn Buckhead, a wealthy enclave of Atlanta, into its own city.
He said the new city, which still faces a steep uphill climb legally, would give police officers the room they need to do their job without worrying about retribution.
"We've decided to stay [in Buckhead] and fight," White said. "And when we prevail and this gets on the ballot, we know it's going to sail through. There is no question about it. We will get crime under control. We love police officers here and want them not to be afraid to do their jobs."
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Original Author: Barnini Chakraborty
Original Location: Atlanta police ditching department and slamming leadership in letters