On June 17, Fulton County district attorney charged the two cops responsible for the murder of Rayshard Brooks. Since then, 171 officers have called out sick.
The sudden spike of officers calling off sick is being called the “blue flu.” According to Channel 2 Atlanta, most of the officers that called out sick are ones that are stationed downtown where the protests have been.
Last Friday, the city was short 90 police officers, not including the ten that resigned just this past month.
“Some officers have flatly told me that they’re afraid to go to work and to answer a call and commit to a process and feel like they’re doing the right thing, feel like they’re doing their jobs, and then face not just disciplinary action, but prosecution,” Atlanta police Detective Vince Velasquez said.
Interim police Chief Rodney Bryant stated that this is the “highest volume of officer sickout calls.” But, a resident of zone 5 is not at all surprised this happened, but she hopes it does not become a pattern.
“It definitely seems like a lot. Obviously, with the circumstances currently going on, it’s definitely understandable what’s going on. I’m not completely surprised,” Ava Arjmand said. “It’s dangerous right now. And as we all work through this as a country, as a state or as a city on how to reform, it’s hard to remain positive. It’s hard to remain safe, and I mean for both sides. Not just police officers, but people who are affected by police brutality. But people have to understand that police officers are concerned with that and calling in sick is not … it’s foreign. It’s something that police departments are not accustomed to police officers doing.”
Although the “Blue Flu” protests are going on, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Bryant guaranteed that serious 911 calls are still being taken. “We have not given up on this city,” Bryant said.