Atlanta Names New Interim Chief of Police & the Emperor Has No Clothes

I’m taking a break from my series on the APD and what I learned about it at the Citizens’ Police Academy to offer a note on the appointment of Darin Schierbaum as the new face of leadership for the APD…and some unexpected spiciness regarding me in a public meeting.

Personally, I think there could be far worse choices made. He seems like a super nice guy who tried to genuinely engage me in conversation when we met. 

What I found interesting today though was a public meeting I watched this evening in which I found my Board President was a member. I came to learn about Cop City but learned I may need to watch my own back.

I met Chief Schierbaum in the first session and he gave the tour of the VIC I wrote about as well. I thought it spoke volumes that I saw him engaging outside of Grady with the media on May 5th after an officer was seriously wounded during a burglary off Marietta St. He handled the media well and I remember thinking, he’s positioning himself for promotion.

I reiterated this on my ride along at my precinct headquarters when there was discussion among the officers about raises and new leadership. I told them my bet was on Schierbaum making the cut for the next chief. It is my prediction he will be installed as the permanent chief in due time. 

In my brief interaction with the man, we discussed that he resides (and I have resided) in Midtown. I think Midtown is of geographic significance as well, and not just because of the economic impact of power gays. 

Most of the city’s newest developments are in the center of the city. There’s also a weird mix of people that is hard to explain that occurs in Midtown. It’s like the yuppies who haven’t made the income to move to Buckhead yet or think they’re too progressive for Buckhead to reside there. Midtown is up town for folks like me, who live in a more Southern point of the city, and it’s far enough south that Buckhead folks feel like they’re still urban and cool. 

I don’t really know how to present it in words, but it’s a vibe. 

I find the yuppies there are super self-important and they don’t really like actual people. 

I think this matters because historically you can follow Atlanta geography by income and status. Generational wealth resides in Buckhead and Cascade. Midtown is the ambitious business center mean girl that’s nice enough to your face to get you into the party, but will totally stab you in the back to achieve the next rung on the ladder. 

What I am curious about in the midst of this leadership change are a few things I see happening that also interact with my board service.

I’ve written a number of pieces about my service on the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board (APAB). One of its responsibilities is to appoint individuals to other boards in the city. Back in the Bottoms administration, there was a fairly significant piece of legislation passed by the City Council establishing a Public Safety Commission. This was supposed to be an answer to addressing crime in the city and police response in the wake of the murders of Rayshard Brooks and Secoria Turner. I mean, our current Mayor ran on addressing crime in his campaign. In February of this year, the Commission was amended to remove a seat on the Commission and expanded to include Working Groups across the city in hopes of engaging more citizens. 

The seat that was removed was APAB’s designee position. 

Here’s another set of my own emails to correspond to that discussion

Also, as I was preparing for this month’s APAB general body meeting, I inquired with a total of 13 people across the city (some council members, some personal contacts, one member of the media, and all who had interests in policing across the city) about these working groups. I was hoping to find out meeting schedules and times as one of our board members inquired about it. (Made sense to me, I wouldn’t take on a volunteer responsibility without knowing the time commitment.) Funny enough there was only one person out of all 13 who didn’t return my call. That person was also the sponsor of the legislation creating the working groups.

What I found was…not much…effectively that none of the working groups are actually functional and have not yet met. 

Additionally, what I found out by attending the public meeting tonight on the Public Safety Training Center is that the board that’s tasked with making decisions regarding the Training Facility is removing the whistleblower who wrote this piece highlighting the environmental concerns with it. At minute 42:07 you can hear the beginning of the discussion where there is confirmation the committee will be sending out a rebuttal of the whistleblower piece. 

What’s more, my Board President has not only seconded the motion at 1:06:38 to remove this member of the board, but has also asked about removing board members on another BACE board…To the extent that an appointment has been made to meet with the Inspector General. 

Wanna know which Board member is being asked about removing?

I’ll give you three guesses. You only need one. That part begins at 58:11

“I just have a question. This is more personal than anything, because I’m facing a similar situation with the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board. Somehow or another… Millennials tend to think that they can write whatever they want to write and all of these little newspapers and they’re supposed to be able to do that. And of course they do have that right. But ultimately, what is our alternative as a board, and officially we are a board since we are a BACE board where it says the city council established it. And so you have a person who’s become rogue and doing what they want to do. Do we have any definitive resolutions as to what we do about a person or people in these situations? Marshall, I don’t know whether you’ve you’ve ever had to deal with something like this or not, but there should be something written somewhere that can protect us as the reason I’m saying the word “protect”. She has written several other articles that some of you may not have seen. She has been deliberately cautious. In naming names of us members on the board, but it’s so secret as to who we are. She’s when we do stuff like that. You have to be concerned about how you’re impacting the reputations of those people on that board. And I don’t get the feeling that that’s an issue in their minds when they do that. So I have requested a meeting with the city’s Inspector General, simply because I need to know but if any of you have heard anything as to what we can do in a situation like this, I’d love to hear”

Who knew Peach Pundit was a “little newspaper”?

This is a bad look, for the new Interim Chief, for the Mayor, for the city. 

Messy boots, Atlanta. Messy boots. 

I really appreciated the one voice of reason at 1:10:24 who says:

You know, I mean, because she, this just feels like you know, kind of, I mean, I’m not I’m not saying that this is wrong, but it doesn’t feel right either. I feel like this process is…is witch hunting at this point. Even though it’s I get it. I understand everybody doesn’t want her speaking for them. I don’t want her speaking for me either. But it just it seems I don’t know it doesn’t seem right. To me.”

Oh friend. This ISN’T right. And I’m in no place to offer Ms. Pontiz legal counsel, but it seems like she’s got a decent case here. 

Here’s a transcript and corresponding audio file of the meeting for you to read until I can find a video to share

53:03 is the beginning of discussion of removing the whistleblower.

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