170 Atlanta police officers called in sick after cops charged in Rayshard Brooks shooting

The majority who called in sick worked downtown, where protests have had their largest presence


By Zachary Hansen
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — About 170 Atlanta police officers called out sick in the days after two cops were charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, according to records obtained by Channel 2 Action News.

The wave of officers who did not show up for work has been dubbed the “Blue Flu” by many. The majority of the officers who called in sick worked downtown, where protests have had their largest presence, Channel 2 reported.

About 170 Atlanta officers called in sick in the days after two cops were charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. (Photo/WSBTV)
About 170 Atlanta officers called in sick in the days after two cops were charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. (Photo/WSBTV)

Retired police detective Vince Velasquez told the news station that the city’s initial response downplayed the number of officers who called out.

“The public should know that’s a significant amount of police officers who did not come to work during that time period,” Velasquez said.

At the time, the department said a “higher than usual number” of officers did not show up, while emphasizing that 911 calls will still be answered. Interim police Chief Rodney Bryant and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also reiterated that 911 calls will not go unanswered in the city.

In total, 171 officers called out sick between June 17, which was the day the officers were charged in Brooks’ death, and last Saturday, according to the documents. Former officer Garrett Rolfe faces 11 charges, including felony murder, while officer Devin Brosnan faces four charges.

Last Friday night, the city was missing 90 police officers due to a sickout status. Nearly half of them came from Zone 5, which covers most of downtown Atlanta.

“Some officers have flatly told me that they’re afraid to go to work and to answer a call and commit to a process and feel like they’re doing the right thing, feel like they’re doing their jobs, and then face not just disciplinary action, but prosecution,” Velasquez told Channel 2. 

In addition to the uptick in officers calling in sick, the department has had 10 officers resign in June, according to Channel 2. Another five officers have been dismissed and five more retired.

 
NEXT: Is a ‘blue flu’ the right way for officers to make their voices heard?

©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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