ATLANTA — Police retirements are up 45% this year and while you may think it’s the countless protests and riots combined with non-stop accusations of racism, the common theme is failed leadership. There may not be a better example of this than in Atlanta and fleeing officers are speaking up about their reasons for leaving. Lt. Mark Cooper wanted to spend four more years with Atlanta P.D. and with 26 years of service, he thought he would make it.
“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.
After the arrest of six Atlanta police officers last summer, Cooper said that it was the leadership guilty of failing and not the officers, who were simply following the orders given by their command. Cooper says that the very leaders that told the officers to do their jobs, should have had their backs rather than throw them under the bus.
“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 resigned on June 17th. He was born in Atlanta and dreamed of being a police officer.
“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 are not unique but the actions of police leaders certainly are.
Travis Yates wrote “The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos & Lies” and he tells us that while he had no desire to write a book, he saw it as a warning to what was to come.
“I published the book in 2019 and I saw how law enforcement leadership was taking a turn for the worse. I believed that writing the book could potentially wake up our profession as to what the outcome of cowardly leadership could do to good police officers,” Yates said.
Clearly, it wasn’t enough and Yates calls the current dilemma in the profession “heartbreaking.”
Heartbreaking indeed, but one thing is clear. Law enforcement is needed more today than ever and while some police leaders are failing on a grand scale, every community in America can have an impact by holding those same leaders accountable for their cowardice.