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A Message To Our Community

Post Date:05/31/2020 3:42 PM

A Message to Our Community

The City of Smyrna and its Mayor, City Council, Chief of Police, entire Smyrna Police Department and employees city-wide, are deeply saddened by the tragic events that have recently occurred across the country. In response to community concerns, we wish to let you know what we are doing to safeguard our community while ensuring that the Constitutional rights of every person who lives, works, and visits our great city are protected.

Your Smyrna Police Department is a state certified law enforcement agency which proves our commitment to professionalism. For the past several years we have and are constantly studying, evaluating, and making changes to our operations and where we find areas of opportunity, we are updating or implementing systems of accountability to better monitor our organization. Some examples include:

• Documented monthly reviews of each officers’ body camera and in-car camera footage. Two of each camera videos are selected at random and discussed with the officer while reviewing.
• Chief Bennett reviews a weekly report, outlining the demographics of those arrested and those that have been issued citations in order to ensure equity in our enforcement activities.
• End of calendar year use of force and pursuit reports are published outlining violation types, use of force types, the demographics of suspects/offenders, and dispositions of the cases.

Your Smyrna Police Department is one of the most diverse departments in the state, employing officers that mirror the diversity of our great community. We not only employ officers from different races, the ethnic and religious backgrounds of our officers offer even more diversity. As an example, we employ officers from England, South Africa, the Caribbean Islands, Pakistan, and many areas of South America.

Our body and in-car video camera programs are among the most advanced in the Metro Atlanta area. We have deployed an Axon camera system and every officer who has enforcement duties is issued a body-worn camera with policy in place mandating the use of the issued equipment.

Since the appointment of Joe Bennett as the Police Chief in February 2020, he has created a culture in which hard conversations are the new norm. The Smyrna Police Department has been and will continue to be honest and transparent with our internal and external stakeholders in order to continue to build on the culture of trust with all we serve. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on having one of the best trained police forces in Georgia. By policy, our minimum annual training hours is double what is required by the state certification agency and most officers employed by our department have attended the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. The following additional training programs are mandated:

• Mandatory annual de-escalation training
• Mandatory annual ethics training
• Mandatory consideration of others/implicit bias training
• Mandatory annual use of force training

Additionally, we have an in-house firearms virtual simulator where Smyrna officers train on proper use of force scenarios. We also have an in-house consultant preparing additional training programs to further focus on ethics, harassment, cultural diversity, and race relations. These classes will be mandatory for all employees of the Smyrna Police Department, and at the direction of the Mayor will be taught city-wide to all employees.

While in-service training constantly and consistently keeps City of Smyrna officers focused on the highest expectations, research has shown that an educated police force is more professional, more accomplished conceptual problem solvers, and garner fewer complaints. Many of our officers hold degrees from institutions of higher education but our policy takes this a step further. By policy, our leadership is required to have certain degree requirements which become greater as employees advance through ranks which brings on additional responsibilities.

In closing, the City of Smyrna and its Mayor, City Council, Chief of Police, entire Police Department and employees city-wide hurt for the families and everyone affected by the recent tragedies across the country. Chief Bennett has been steadfast in his leadership of the men and women under his command, and has made clear that he will never tolerate an individual under his command who lies, harasses, or discriminates and will not tolerate corruption at any level. The aforementioned sins are instant deal breakers for city leadership and the Chief, and will subject any employee to immediate termination. For each employee Chief Bennett interviews and in each conversation he has with employees, his expectations are front and center and he inspects what he expects. The Mayor and the Chief, and every employee and officer in the Smyrna Police Department truly appreciate the overwhelming support we receive daily from this great community. It is our promise to each of you that we will work diligently every day to exceed your expectations in all aspects of all city-wide operations, and particularly those of the Smyrna Police Department.
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