Police watchdog group to get new leader
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5:36 a.m. Thursday, April 12, 2012
The vote Thursday night on a new executive director of the Atlanta Civilian Review Board will say a lot about the future and reputation of the police oversight agency, observers say.
Three women and a man with widely differing professional backgrounds are the remaining candidates to succeed Cristina Beamud, who resigned in November after almost three and a half years of dealing with the Atlanta Police Department and the police union.
Nine police watchdog and civil rights groups wrote an open letter to the all-volunteer board reminding its members why the oversight panel was put in place after the fatal 2006 shooting of an elderly woman in her home.
The ACRB is a product of public outrage over the shooting of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston during a botched drug raid on Neal Street in northwest Atlanta. Subsequent state and federal investigations found officers lied, planted evidence and tried to get an informant to verify their versions of what happened that night. Several officers went to prison.
“The public’s faith in the ACRB rests largely on our belief that it serves the best interests of the people, even when faced with political pressure and hardship," the groups wrote. "It is also absolutely imperative that Atlanta’s new executive director be entirely free from conflicts of interest with the Atlanta Police Department and city of Atlanta government.