The future public safety headquarters at 620 Morgan Falls Road. (File)

Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone said incidents like the death of Tyre Nichols  make it more difficult to retain and recruit officers.

At the Jan. 30 Sandy Springs City Council meeting, Mayor Rusty Paul said the death of Nichols after a confrontation with now-indicted Memphis officers was on everybody’s minds. Paul said the city spends a lot of time training officers to make sure they respond properly in tense situations, but he asked what goes on in that kind of situation and what Sandy Springs does to ensure it doesn’t happen here.

DeSimone said something went horribly wrong Memphis and it had to be one of three things – training, equipment or leadership.

The chief said the Nichols case and others like it will have an impact on recruiting and retention of officers.

However, Sandy Springs has had more success recruiting officers. As of the previous week, the police department was only short two sworn officers, which DeSimone said was a “pretty big deal” compared to every agency surrounding the city.

The city lists 148 sworn officers with 185 total positions including reserve and civilian employees on an organizational chart on its website.

DeSimone said when Sandy Springs gets its new police headquarters at 620 Morgan Falls Road, that will demonstrate to potential new candidates that the city has invested in its police department and its community cares about law enforcement officers.

Construction and renovations to the existing building at that location will start this year.

Sandy Springs has a reputation for being serious about its police department, going by the book with no horseplay, he said. That attracts like-minded people.

“We don’t wear beards. We don’t wear man buns. Nobody has a nose ring or ear gauges, no neck tattoos, no tattoos on the faces, hands,” DeSimone said. “When you lose that professional look, you lose professional action on the street.”

DeSimone said he knows of only two law enforcement agencies in Georgia that haven’t lowered their standards: the Georgia State Patrol and the Sandy Springs Police Department.

The Sandy Springs Police Department recorded a 36 percent reduction in crimes against people, but DeSimone said that comes with a small caveat.

The FBI changed its uniform crime reporting system to now categorize armed robberies as property crimes, he told the Sandy Springs City Council during its annual retreat held at City Hall on Jan. 30.

The department received 101,700 calls for service in 2022, he said. Those included 57,850 officer-reported incidents and 43,842 citizen-reported incidents.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.