Former Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, 63, suffered a stroke on Memorial Day and was admitted June 16 to the Shepherd Center in Buckhead for rehabilitation. News of his stroke was first made public on June 17.

A news release said Pennington’s family had asked for privacy and will not answer any questions. No other information about the former chief’s condition was released.

“The family has asked Shepherd Center to communicate that they are appreciative to the community for its outpouring of support and to please respect their privacy during this difficult time,” Shepherd Center spokeswoman Caroline Hemingway said in a statement.

The Atlanta Police Department issued a statement June 17 that said: “We are saddened to hear about former Chief Pennington’s stroke, but hopeful for a positive outcome. The Atlanta Police Department family is sending our best wishes, and hopes for a speedy recovery. We are grateful for the leadership Chief Pennington provided the Atlanta Police Department; his career exemplifies that of a committed public servant. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Since he came to Atlanta in 2002, recruited from New Orleans by then-Mayor Shirley Franklin, there had been no reports that Pennington had any health problems.

Pennington, who is a Buckhead resident, has dropped from public view since he left APD on Jan. 4, when Mayor Kasim Reed took office and interim Chief George Turner took his oath.

Some critics also noted that Pennington was often away during critical events. Yet he received praise for setting up methods for monitoring officers’ arrests and responses to crime shifts.

His data-driven system provided a real-time count of the arrests and crimes taking place. He also was credited with a drop in Atlanta’s crime. When he took over in July 2002, Atlanta was ranked the nation’s third-most violent city, but by the time he left, it ranked 18th.

John Schaffner