Atlanta Police find that a laundry list of crimes in the city and suburbs share a similar nexus: the criminals themselves.
Tuesday at APD headquarters, Police Chief Rodney Bryant and some of his command staff laid bare some of the frustration that officers feel when the people they’re arresting are the same suspects they’ve worked hard to put behind bars for violent crimes already. Repeat offenders often rack up multiple arrests across several jurisdictions.
“This is not a new phenomenon,” says Bryant. “But it becomes very discouraging when you find yourself faced with a person that you’ve arrested time and time again.”
>>More from Police Chief Bryant below.
He says APD set up a Repeat Offender Unit earlier this summer, and APD is working to make sure that the files they give to prosecutors are better and more thorough. Bryant says police need help from their partners in the court system, the DA’s office, probation and parole officials--everyone who has a hand in the justice system.
The repeat offenders of this summer have from three to 77 arrest cycles on their rap sheets.
>>Listen to WSB Reporter Veronica Waters’ on-air report, with comments from Chief Bryant below.
Police say that two of the many repeat offenders who’ve made bond in recent months are actually facing murder charges.
One, Torry Wyche, was captured again in June after a foot chase by an Atlanta Police officer. APD showed reporters the bodycam footage. The arrest was nonviolent, and Wyche had marijuana and a gun, along with a high-capacity drum magazine, on him.
“When this incident took place, he was out on bond for a murder charge,” says Cpt. Pete Malecki. “After this arrest took place, he spent one day in jail for this incident where the officers pursued him and got him in custody with another weapon.”
Wyche has logged eight arrests thus far.
>>More on Wyche and the APD’s response in WSB Reporter Veronica Waters’ on-air report below.
Maj. William Ricker said when APD started looking in depth at these repeat offenders following Wyche’s arrest, they found two notable things: that most of the individuals were getting out within a couple of days and that the bond was generally low.
“On average $28,000 was the bond amount, then of course when you talk about being able to pay just 10 percent, that’s a significantly small amount.”
He then discussed another murder suspect who made bond this summer.
“James McClendon, who had 39 cycles, his bond was a $54,000 surety bond. So for murder, he can get out for basically 54-hundred dollars,” said Ricker.
Chief Bryant was asked if the police department’s concerns about repeat offenders have been falling on deaf ears.
“I don’t know if it’s a matter of we think that it’s falling on deaf ears, or if they’re not being held to the same level of accountability that we are being held to,” he replied. “Clearly, when crime goes up or it goes down, this group is the one that is being held responsible for it.
“But we’re only one piece of that criminal justice system that anyone can tell you are being held accountable to that same degree.”
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