APD Deputy Chief Erika Shields will replace George Turner as chief of police at the end of December. (Special)
APD Deputy Chief Erika Shields will replace George Turner as chief of police at the end of December. (Special)

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner is retiring after 35 years on the job. Mayor Kasim Reed announced that Deputy Chief Erika Shields will replace Turner at a Dec. 1 press conference.

Turner’s retirement goes into effect Dec. 28. He was appointed to the post in 2010 by Reed.

“With 21 years on the force, Ms. Shields has the experience and respect of her fellow officers to lead the department. I am confident that she will help create an even safer Atlanta while strengthening our reputation as one of the safest large cities in America,” Reed said in a prepared statement.

The City Council must approve Shields’ appointment.

Shields currently supervises approximately 1,000 officers throughout the city. She oversees the handling of 911 calls and investigations for the majority of crimes in all six zones. Shields is also instrumental in leading the city’s efforts to strengthen community policing efforts.

“I would like to thank Mayor Reed for his confidence in my ability to lead the Atlanta Police Department,” said Shields in a prepared statement. “I am truly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead such a prominent police department in a city as dynamic as Atlanta, and I look forward to building on the progress we have made under the Reed administration.”

Shields has held a number of leadership positions within the Atlanta Police Department. As sergeant, she worked in the Office of Professional Standards and conducted internal investigations before moving to the Advocacy Unit, according to a press release. There, she worked with the city’s Law Department in reviewing and presenting disciplinary files to the chiefs of police. After attaining the rank of lieutenant she was assigned to Zone 4 where she served as the evening watch commander. She then managed the department’s Planning and Research/Accreditation Unit where she helped to develop and implement departmental policies and facilitated the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agency (CALEA) credential process, the press release states.

In 2010, Deputy Chief Shields was appointed to the rank of major and assumed the role of Chief of Staff, managing the daily activities of the chief’s office. One year later, Shields was appointed to the rank of Deputy Chief and selected to command the new Strategy and Special Projects Division. During her time in the division, she was responsible for the implementation and expansion of the department’s state-of-the-art Video Integration Center, according to the release. She also researched and identified new technology measures to support the crime analysis process and assisted the police chief with the development of a comprehensive strategic plan.

Shields transitioned to the Support Services Division in 2013 where her primary responsibilities included managing the department’s day-to-day operations and $168 million budget, Training Academy, Corporate Services Section, Information Services Section and E-911 Center.

Reed praised Turner for his 35 years on the force.

“Since his appointment as police chief six years ago, George Turner has served as a vital member of my cabinet,” he said in a prepared statement. “Under his leadership, we have made significant progress toward our goal of making Atlanta one of the safest large cities in America. As he prepares to embark on the next chapter of his career, I want to extend my best wishes and deep appreciation for his unwavering commitment to the residents of Atlanta.”

The city has seen a 27 percent drop in crime in Atlanta since 2009 under Turner’s leadership, according to the press release.

“It has been a pleasure working under Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration. Mayor Reed has played a major role in the success of the Atlanta Police Department and none of this would have been possible without his leadership,” said Turner in a statement. “Mayor Reed is an avid supporter of public safety initiatives and as a result of his dedication and commitment to citizens and visitors, Atlanta is becoming the safest large city in America.”

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.