History of the APD

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

1837  - Railroad surveyor marks future site of Atlanta: settlement originally called Terminus.

1843 - Name of settlement changed to Marthasville (December 23)

1844 - *Antonio (?) named the first marshal of Marthasville

1846 - New name, Atlanta, Written into town charter

1847 - State legislature officially recognizes new name of Atlanta

1853 - First-night police elected (January 28)

1858 - Number of policemen increased to 20

1860 Population of Atlanta: 9,544

1863 Deputy marshal Tim Shivers killed in duel by G. W. “Whit” Anderson; first Atlanta peace officer killed

1864 Burning of Atlanta

1870 Population of Atlanta: 21,879

1872 Officer M.W. Rasbury killed by Penn Bedell; first Atlanta Police Officer killed in the line of duty, March 7, 1872

1873 First board of police commissioners meets and names Thomas Jones as the first chief of police

1874 *Thomas Jones elected to first full term as chief of the newly reorganized police department

1876 *James A. Anderson elected chief (January)

1878 *L.P. Thomas elected chief (April 4). Headquarters moved to a three-story building on S. Pryor St.

1880 *Lovice T. Anderson elected chief(April 14. Population of Atlanta: 37,409

1881 *Arthur B. Connolly elected chief, April 1881

1885 Police board reorganizes detective bureau: 1 captain, 1 sergeant, 8 detectives: Chief Connolly calls for strong measures to juvenile crime

1886 First police wagon purchased

1887 Seal of the City adopted by Atlanta government. The emblem is a part of the Atlanta police Department uniform, worn as a patch on the shoulder.

1889 Eight-hour workday adopted for police

1890 Population of Atlanta: 65,553; police budget surpasses $100,000

1893 Opening of a new headquarters building on Decatur St., March 25, 1893

1896 Detective department reorganized under Sergeant Bradley Slaughter. Bertillon system of identification through skeletal measurements used for first time by detectives

1897 *Chief Connoly dies. W.P. Manley elected chief, August 20. Bicycle squad organized

1900 Population of Atlanta: 89,872

1901 *John W. Ball elected chief (March 30): Chief Ball launches a campaign to prevent cruelty to animals and to rid the city of vagrants: Mary Bohnefeld hired as department’s first matron

1904 Juvenile Court and separate juvenile detention facilities established

1905 *Henry Jennings elected chief

1911 *James L. Beavers elected chief ,August 11; police department acquires first motorized vehicles; motorcycles and auto patrol wagons

1912 Chief Beavers attacks organized prostitution and announces plans for vigorous antivice campaigns

1915 *Chief Beavers resigns: William M. Mayo elected chief ,August 3, Chief Mayo establishes first police school of intensive instruction; publication of daily bulletin begins

1917-18 Eleven Atlanta police officers serve in armed forces during WWI

1917 Great Fire destroys 73 blocks, leaves thousands homeless ,May 21. James Beavers reinstated as chief, November 8

1918 Department completely motorized; first two policewomen appointed; Bureau of Identification established

1921 First traffic signal tower installed in downtown Atlanta; department acquired high-powered car for answering emergency calls; telephone exchange installed at police headquarters

1924 Women’s Bureau established ,January

1930 Population of Atlanta 270,336

1931 Police radio station begins operations
1932 *Chief Beavers announces retirement; Thurman O. Sturdivant elected chief, April 30

1937 *Chief Sturdivant resigns; Marion A. Hornsby elected chief, February 4

1942-45 One hundred and twenty-nine Atlanta police officers serve in WWII. Two are killed

1947 Chief Hornsby dies ,January 31; Herbert T. Jenkins elected chief, immediately begins vigorous reform campaign, February 2; mandatory retirement of 65 established; Klan-dominated police union abolished; Police Training Academy founded

1947 Detective department organized into specialized squads.

1948 First African-American police officers go on duty on Auburn Ave, April 3

1955 First noticeable crime decrease since WWII, major crimes decline seven percent; Howard Baugh and Ernest Lyons become first African-American police detectives. There are 15 Black officers on the force

1957 First women assigned to regular beats ,August 1

1959 Headquarters at Butler and Decatur streets completes and opened

1960 K-9 Corps begins patrolling, June; action of Chief Jenkins helps prevent violence during student protest march ,May 17; population of Atlanta: 487,455; helicopters used for traffic control

1961 Howard Baugh becomes first African-American superior officer (March 31); massive police effort helps bring about peaceful integration of Atlanta public high schools; APD receives praise from U.S. Civil Rights Commission; Claude E. Mundy Jr.

1961 First African-American officer to be slain in the line of duty

1962 Black officers authorized to arrest Whites engaged in criminal activities; use of one-person patrol cars expanded

1963 Fugitive Squad organized

1964-65 Metropolitan Atlanta Crime Commission thoroughly investigates city’s crime problem

1966 African-American officers assigned to regular patrols; crime prevention bureau established; Summerhill Riot ,September 6

1967 Five-day work week established for police officers, April; Chief Jenkins appointed to be President Johnson’s National Commission on Civil Disorders ,July

1968 Assassination and funeral ,April 9 of Dr. Martin Luther King

1969 Racial barriers were removed and Black and White officers begun working side-by-side. Numerous charges of police brutality result in change of supervision techniques and personnel in detention area

1970 Population of Atlanta: 487,533

1971 First African-American women officer hired, Linnie Hallmon

1972 *Chief Jenkins retires. Continues in role as head of police force under the title of police commissioner (January 8). John Inman takes office as Atlanta’s fifteenth chief of police (March 20). Herbert T. Jenkins named police chief emeritus for life

1974 The City of Atlanta creates a new Department of Public Safety to include the police, fire, corrections, and other functions. A. Reginald Eaves named as First Commissioner of Public Safety

1978 *Lee P. Brown appointed Commissioner of Public Safety, George Napper appointed Director of Police Services

1976-82 Freeze on hiring and promotion due to equal opportunity litigation

1979-82 The Missing and Murdered Children case dominated the city, eventually ending with the arrest and conviction of Wayne Williams

1982 *George Napper appointed Commissioner of Public Safety, Morris G. Redding appointed Chief of Police; First women, Beverly J. Harvard, to hold the rank of deputy chief in a major police department is appointed

1988 Atlanta chosen as site of the Democratic National Convention

1989 Red Dog Unit established ,June

1990 *Department of Public Safety abolished. Individual departments were reinstated for police, fire, and corrections. Eldrin A. Bell appointed Chief of Police

1991 First women in the department to obtain the rank of major, Thetus Knox and Blanche Nichols, are appointed. Atlanta chosen as the host of the 1996 Olympic Games, beginning the largest law enforcement planning effort ever conducted by APD 
1994 *Beverly J. Harvard, first African-American women to hold the rank of chief of police of a major city, is appointed ,October. Atlanta chosen as host of the Superbowl

1995 Chief Harvard opens a state-of-the-art citywide 911 communications center with the Atlanta Fire Department, increases initiatives for Community Policing Atlanta; and establishes and expands the juvenile section, domestic violence unit and gangs and guns task force; Atlanta population: 411,204

1996 The Atlanta Police Department developed and implemented a comprehensive plan for an elaborate security mission during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, without sacrificing normal police services to the city and its residents.  Atlanta established new standards and a model for other cities in preparing for large events.

1997 The Department implemented a new truancy plan that included the cooperative efforts of APD, Atlanta Public Schools, MARTA, Juvenile Court and the Atlanta Housing Authority.

1997 In an effort to bring citizens closer to APD, the Department was the first Georgia law enforcement agency on the Internet.

1998 The Atlanta Police Department developed and implemented its annual Comprehensive Crime Reduction Plan and implemented a multifaceted Comprehensive Homicide Initiative.

1998 The Atlanta Police Department hosted its first Citizen’s Police Academy. The goal was to bring citizens closer to their police department, to educate them in departmental operations and to obtain valuable feedback to improve police operations and enhance community relations.

1999 The Department worked to further improve its technological capabilities by computerizing the investigation function in the Criminal Investigations Division.

1999 Solved the 1975 murder of Atlanta Police Detective Sam Guy.

2000 The Police Athletic League more than doubled youth participation of youth taking advantage of PAL programs throughout the year.

2000 The Bureau of Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire created and implemented an automated tracking system for cash receipts, fines and all transactions involving a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience.

2001 Investigator Sherry Lyons-Williams is shot and killed while executing a narcotics warrant.  She is the first female officer to die in the line of duty.

2002 Chief Richard Pennington appointed as the Chief of Police by Mayor Shirley Franklin.

2003 Chief Pennington establishes Command Operating Briefing to Revitalize Atlanta (COBRA).  This is the agency’s weekly crime statistics meeting.

2003 The Department created the Homeland Security Unit one of the first of its kind in the Nation.

2003 The Atlanta Police Foundation is a non-profit, public/private partnership focused on advancing public safety in Atlanta. In partnership with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department and the business community, the APF provides research on policing best practices, strategic direction and resources to help the APD incubate innovation, keep pace with technology, and meet strategic time-sensitive needs that help drive down crime and make Atlanta a safer city.

2004 The Linder Group publishes Fragile Momentum, a comprehensive report on APD detailing problems and recommended solutions.

2004 For the first time in 30 years zone and beat boundaries are revised, increasing city-wide beats from 56 to 66.

2005 The Department earns its initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

2005 April 23rd, Officer Mark Anthony Cross was killed in the line of duty while investigating a suspicous vehicle. Officer Cross was the only officer ever to be killed in the Red Dog Unit.

2009 The Atlanta Police Department moved into the state of the art Public Safety headquarters building located at 226 Peachtree Street.

2010 Chief George N. Turner is named Chief of Police by Mayor Kasim Reed.

2010 The department begins an aggressive recruitment campaign to hire officers in collaboration with the Atlanta Police Foundation in an effort to have a 2,000-member sworn force.

2010 The Department creates the Community Oriented Police Section, allowing for veteran police officers to focus on forging proactive crime-fighting partnerships.

2010 The Department received its reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

2010 A new department website is launched with zone-specific, city-wide citizen alert system and launched a new careers website featuring an online application.

2011 The Video Integration Center is opened.  The VIC uses state-of-the-art technology to increase the department’s “eyes and ears” on the street by integrating public and private video cameras into a network.

2011 The Domestic Violence Squad is created.  It is dedicated to tracking domestic offenses; and in particular, deterring repeat offenders.

2011 A comprehensive Beat/Zone Re-Design initiative is implemented; the results allow for better response time through equitable workload distribution.

2011 The Department unveils the Smart911 system.  The free system allows residents to create a “household safety profile” with information 911 dispatchers can relay to police, firefighters and EMTs responding to emergencies.  This additional information provides first responders with enhanced information to identify a situation and better gauge an appropriate response.

2011 The City of Atlanta creates the Graffiti Task Force charging the APD with enforcing vandalism laws. The task force brings together a number of city agencies and private partners, including the Office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the Office of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, the Atlanta Police Department, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Public Works and Atlanta Public Schools.

2012 Code enforcement responsibilities for the City of Atlanta are moved to the Atlanta Police Department. Under the authority of the APD, the Code Enforcement Section is able to function with deliberate control in resolving housing code violations and set in motion strategic plans to address quality of life issues, environmental concerns and improved property value by leveraging all available resources.

2012 Atlanta Police Chief George Turner names Officer Kristin Knight as the LGBT liaison to serve the department. Officer Knight replaces Senior Police Officer Patricia Powell, who moved to a new position with the department’s Background & Recruitment Unit.

2012 The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety awards the Atlanta Police Department a $93,200 grant from its Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic or H.E.A.T. program.

2012 Police Chief George Turner  is awarded the Verizon Wireless 2012 HopeLine® Hero Award for his work against domestic violence and his support of victim assistance and survivor resource programs in the Atlanta area. The award was accompanied by a $2,500 Verizon HopeLine grant, given to a non-profit organization dedicated to domestic violence awareness and prevention chosen by Chief Turner.

2012 Senior Police Officer Gail Denise Thomas is the second Atlanta female police officer to be killed in the line of duty.  SPO Thomas died on January 24, 2012, after being struck by a vehicle driven by a suspected drunken driver as she exited her patrol car north of downtown Atlanta. SPO Thomas was a 20-year Atlanta Police Department veteran serving the City of Atlanta as a 911 communications dispatch officer and police officer.

2012 The Department losses two officers in a helicopter crash on November 3, 2012.  Officers Richard Halford and Shawn Smiley were members of the Department’s Air Unit and were called to assist with a search for a missing 9-year-old boy in northwest Atlanta.  Officer Richard Halford served the City of Atlanta for 26 years. At the age of 48, Officer Halford had committed more than half of his life to public safety. Officer Halford served as a pilot with the Air Unit and was also assigned to the Zone 4 precinct, Motors and DUI units.  Officer Shawn Smiley had been with the Air Unit since 2012, serving as a tactical flight officer. He previously served in the Department’s Zone 2 precinct.

2013 The Atlanta Police Department, for the first time in its history, receives State certification from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

2013 Atlanta Police and Atlanta Fire and Rescue open a joint Public Safety Facility, Fire Station 28/ Zone Two Mini-Precinct.

2013 The Department re-launches the Hispanic recruitment campaign and creates a PSA to hire more Spanish-speaking officers and 9-1-1 call takers to better serve the Atlanta community.

2013 The United States Department of State honors the outstanding contributions of Atlanta Police Department in advancing U.S. strategic and diplomatic interests through extensive police training and curriculum development assistance in Timor-Leste. In 2011, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Atlanta PD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on training, advising, and mentoring international law enforcement personnel. In May 2012, Atlanta deployed two police officers to Timor-Leste for six months each in order to provide extensive curriculum development and police training assistance. 

2013 The Department creates the Path Force Unit, a dedicated public safety resource for the Atlanta BeltLine and adjacent parks.  This new unit of 15 officers and 3 supervisors is the result of a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant received in 2012.

2013 The Atlanta Police Department, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, unveils a highway memorial sign in honor of Senior Police Officer Gail Denise Thomas. SPO Thomas was struck and killed by a drunk driver on January 24, 2012 when she was responding to a traffic accident at I-75 southbound, near the ramp to I-85 northbound. She had served with APD for more than 25 years. The highway sign is displayed at the interchange of I-75 at exit 251.

2013 The Atlanta Police Department updates patrol cars and adds 70 new Ford Interceptor patrol vehicles.  The vehicles are equipped with the latest in-car electronic technology including high-definition dashboard and rear seat video cameras, full-time digital video and audio recording, automatic download of video clips to a network of distributed video servers, an integrated real-time GPS Field Management System with mapping and wireless “hot spot” capabilities with access to various data sources including our Computer Aided Dispatch System (CADS), our Records Management System (RMS), crime maps, Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC, internet/intranet resources and our latest predictive policing software (Predpol). 

2013 - The Department reaches historic staffing level of 2,000 sworn police officers.

2014 The Atlanta Police Department becomes the first law enforcement agency in the nation to use facial recognition software to help identify and capture criminals.  The Department tested the software in effort to increase arrests.

2014 The Atlanta Police Department’s crime fighting efforts were recognized  by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The agency toured the Video Integration Center and commented that the Department is on the leading edge of work in the area of video surveillance.

2014 The Atlanta Police Department hosts first city-wide code enforcement training,  introducing more than 100 attendees to property maintenance and residential code. The three-day event also provided information on the legal aspects of code administration. 

2014 Atlanta Police Chief George Turner joins Mayor Kasim Reed at the launch of the “Take A Stand” campaign. The initiative is the city’s first campaign created to end sexual assaults. Sexual violence such as rapes are often unreported and only a fraction of sexual assault victims request assistance. The “Take A Stand” campaign empowers citizens to discretely notify a friend about potential danger and offers a direct connection to resources such as a safe ride, emergency care and prevention tips from the Atlanta Police Department. 

2014 Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner is named to the Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force. Created by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the group provided advice and immediate solutions on how to respond to weather emergencies.

2014 Deputy Chiefs Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis and Erika Shields are named to Women Looking Ahead News Magazine’s 100s list of Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Women. The magazine celebrates the state’s most powerful and influential women who are making a difference.

2014 Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner is added to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “The 100 Most Influential Atlantans of 2014” list. The annual list recognizes senior-level professionals that continuously make positive contributions to the City of Atlanta. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is one of the leading sources for business news.

2014 The Atlanta Police Department introduces the Path Force Unit’s new electric car. Donated by Georgia Power, the new 2014 Nissan Leaf helps with emergency transportation and is fully equipped with police graphics, emergency lights, speakers and sirens. The Path Force Unit is dedicated to protecting the Beltline and surrounding neighborhoods.

2014 The Atlanta Police Department’s Narcotics Unit is featured on National Geographic’s hit television show "Drugs Inc." The episode focused on 'Molly,' a powerful form of the drug MDMA. The drug is becoming more dangerous and popular in the Atlanta area.  Police Chief George N. Turner expressed praise and called the Narcotics Unit one of the best in the nation for their work in arresting drug dealers and increasing neighborhood safety.

2015 Atlanta Police Chief George Turner is recognized by Christian Science Monitor for building a diversified department. During his tenure as police chief, Turner has helped to move the Department forward with community policing and transformed the reputation of the Department. Under his leadership, overall crime has significantly dropped and the Department has become the largest police force in Georgia.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department’s Operations Shield initiative is recognized by Security magazine. Launched in 2007, Operation Shield is an initiative of the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Police Department to generate effective communication between the APD and both the public and private sectors. Through the Operation Shield Video Integration Center, officers are able to use software to monitor video feeds from both public and private sector cameras. The video surveillance network system also enables the Department to communicate prior to responding to emergency situations.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department’s K-9 Unit competed in the United States Police Canine Association Region 22 Top Dog Awards in Narcotics Detection. The USPCA competition is an annual event that allows officers and their canines to compete in a variety of challenges. APD Officer R. Sperl and his K9 "Arna", a 11 1/2 year old female German Shepard, won the top award.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department debuts a new crime lab facility, equipped with a 50-yard firing range, a marijuana testing lab and a weapons collection room.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department forms a peer support response team to offer one-on-one help to staff. The group provides confidential services and assist employees dealing with job-related and personal problems. The new group follows recommendations from President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department launches a free mobile app available on both Apple and Android phones. The application helps to keep citizens informed and features emergency alerts, crime maps and statistics, community events, links to social media, news releases and the ability to send anonymous crime tips.

2015 The Atlanta Police Department, the United States Attorney's office, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and community leaders partner to clean up the English Avenue neighborhood. Suspects identified as heroin dealers are invited to participate in a special program called Drug Market Intervention or DMI. The new program offers job training and other services to drug dealers that pledge to stop selling illegal drugs in the community.

2015 Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner joins faith leaders, elected officials and law enforcement commanders in Washington, D.C. at the White House Community Policing Forum. Chief Turner shared how the Atlanta Police Department partners with the community to improve police relations by providing community programs.

2015 Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner is named the President of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP). The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police is responsible for training the state’s top law enforcement officers and is the largest professional association for law enforcement administrators in Georgia.

2016  The Atlanta Police Department (APD) is one of 15 law enforcement agencies out of 18,000 in the nation to be recognized for implementing the 21st century policing methods.  APD obtained a model city designation for our efforts to implement and follow the 59 recommendations set in place by President Barack Obama’s Task Force On 21st Century Policing. 

2016   The Atlanta Police Department in partnership with The Atlanta Police Foundation, and the City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department announced the “Because Every Kid Needs a Hero” Essay Contest.One lucky winner received $100 and the title Chief for a Day.

2016  The City of Atlanta is partnering with General Electric in a $1 million program to train police officers in leadership and culture changes.  GE will invest its million dollars in resources and expertise to develop enhanced public safety strategies targeted toward leadership development and culture training throughout the Atlanta Police Department

2016  The Atlanta Police Department deployed Body Worn Cameras.

2016 Chief Erika Shields became the 26th Police Chief for the City of Atlanta.  She is the 2nd woman to hold the position.  She was sworn in on December 28, 2016.

2017 Awarded National CALEA Accreditation for the fifth consecutive year.