Reichert Wants to Fix Macon Police's Image Problem

10:05 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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Macon Mayor Robert Reichert hopes to fix what he calls a "public image problem" with the police department.

In an afternoon news conference Wednesday, Reichert discussed Officer Clayton Sutton's December killing of the unarmed Sammie Davis Jr. at a Kroger parking lot.

The mayor's comments came one day after District Attorney David Cooke concluded the shooting was justified. Cooke said he reached that conclusion after the GBI investigated the shooting and he had reviewed the agency's report.

During the news conference, Reichert said the shooting caused a community anti-police mentality to build.

"Despite statistics that show violent crime is down and the outstanding closure and conviction rates for the crimes that are committed, there is a public perception in some segments of our community that the police department is rude, arrogant, biased, dishonest and unjust. To be fair, some of that perception has been self-inflicted," Reichert said.

He said some officers have brought that on themselves.

"There have been recent incidents where police officers have been caught stealing property, misappropriating property or committing other criminal offenses," Reichert said. "But those incidents should not diminish our admiration and respect for all the other officers, the vast majority of whom are honest, compassionate, and concerned individuals working under very adverse circumstances."

But Reichert said some of those problems underscored the need for better training for police officers.

"We are discussing the need for additional training on cultural differences and how to avoid inadvertent disrespect as well as unintentional or subconscious racial profiling or stereotyping," he said.

Reichert said he's planning a public forum to address relations between police and the community. The forum is tentatively scheduled for March 28.

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