Atlanta police routinely dismiss homeless people's reports of

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 24 May 1998 20:42:51 -0700 (PDT)


http://www.accessatlanta.com:80/news/1998/05/23/police_full.html#FFCC99


  LAWYER: CRIME STATS HURT HOMELESS

  By Lyda Longa, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 1998/05/23


The attorney for an Atlanta police captain, who accused Police Chief
Beverly Harvard and two of her deputy chiefs of manipulating statistics to
improve Atlanta's crime rate, said the practice was used against homeless
and indigent victims who could not later hold the police department
accountable.

Police Capt. Louis Arcangeli alleges that top police officials pressured
investigators and officers to write off unsolved crimes and misclassify
violent crimes. His attorney, Bill McKenney, says these actions mostly hurt
people who could not be found by detectives for follow-up investigations.

"This practice affected people who are homeless and probably people who are
poor who were on the brink of homelessness," McKenney said Thursday. "These
are people who probably gave police an address at a mission or a homeless
shelter where they stayed for one night. When the officer went back to
check on them for a follow-up investigation, of course they were gone."

Earlier this week a series of biting memos between Arcangeli, Harvard and
deputy chiefs Bobby Rocker and Carter Jackson surfaced after Harvard
demoted Arcangeli from deputy chief to captain. In the memos, written in
1997, Arcangeli accuses Harvard of ordering or at least knowing that Rocker
and Jackson were pressuring squads to reclassify violent crimes and to
improperly classify unsolved crimes as baseless reports.

Both of the practices would lower Atlanta's high rate of violent crime.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the attorney general's office are
reviewing the documents to determine whether Harvard, Rocker and Jackson
have broken any laws. Former Attorney General Mike Bowers, now a candidate
for governor, asked the GBI to review the memos.

"The decision to start an investigation of the police department will
depend on the attorney general's office," said GBI Director Buddy Nix.
"Whatever we decide will be in agreement with them. If they decide an
investigation should be done, then we will do it."

A spokeswoman for Harvard said she had no comment.

Pitts meanwhile, told Harvard that he and other council members were being
placed in an uncomfortable situation before constituents who were asking
questions about the Police Department and its problems.

"These are very serious allegations," Pitts told Harvard. "Clearly, we need
to sort this out. We are being put in a position lately of having to find
out these things in the media. And we have to answer to our constituents.

"I would hope that there is no wrongdoing in the Police Department. But if
there is, the people responsible need to be punished."

Harvard, who appeared in full uniform and with an arm load of notebooks,
was emotional and defensive while repeatedly denying that she and her staff
had engaged or ordered anyone to engage, in manipulating 1996 crime reports
or statistics. She has consistently responded that her staff may have made
some honest mistakes in reporting crime statistics, but did not do anything
improper. She also has consistently blamed Arcangeli, once head of the
Technical Services Division, for failing to give her specific examples of
misclassified or unfounded crime reports.

Arcangeli accused Harvard and deputy police chiefs Bobby Rocker and Carter
Jackson of pressuring their squads to reclassify violent crimes and to
improperly classify unsolved crimes as baseless reports.

The City Council also will look into a report published last week in The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the number of officers in uniform
patrolling the city's streets. A memo prepared by Rocker on April 30
indicated that only 732 -- or 47 percent -- of the department's 1,559 sworn
officers, are on the streets in each of the city's six precincts.

Harvard disputed those figures, saying the department has 884 officers on
the streets. She could not, however, provide Pitts or Martin with the
numbers of officers in certain units after both council members asked her
for more specific figures.

Pitts wants the answer to two questions: Did Police Chief Beverly Harvard
direct deputy chiefs Jackson and Rocker to manipulate the city's crime
statistics? Was she directed by anyone else to do so?

"Since the chief has not been confirmed at this point, any finding would
raise questions in the minds of council," Pitts said. "We need to hear from
both sides to sort out what appears to be conflicting testimony. We also
need to talk to the reporters and compare the numbers that were used in the
articles and attempt to reconcile them with the numbers the chief gave us.

"Arcangeli, to my knowledge, had a sterling reputation and used to
represent the department before standing committees of council."

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