Police: We didn’t follow policy in gay assault

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imageThe Atlanta Police Department has classified the armed robbery of a gay couple in Piedmont Park as a bias crime while also admitting that their LGBT liaison was not notified of the Friday attack in violation of department policy.

The agency, criticized for its September raid of the Eagle and for its handling of its LGBT liaisons, issued a statement on Wednesday addressing the robbery in response to questions from Project Q Atlanta. The department released an incident report of the Friday night attack on Tuesday, and a spokesperson said at the time that Officer Patricia Powell (photo), the police agency’s LGBT liaison, was not notified about the incident for three days.

That delay violated department policy, according to the statement on Wednesday. As a result, department commanders will reiterate to officers the policy that requires Powell to be contacted when a bias crime with LGBT victims is reported.

The full statement, issued by Carlos Campos, the police department’s public affairs manager:

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The Atlanta Police Department is treating Friday’s armed robbery of two gay men in Piedmont Park as a “bias crime.” This is how the department classifies crimes in which bias based on color, nationality, sexual orientation or other factors played a role in the attack. Georgia, however, does not have a hate crimes statute, so there is not a separate charge attached to the incident.

Department policy requires that the GLBT liaison be contacted in the event of a bias crime against anyone in the gay community. That did not happen in this incident. Department commanders will reiterate this policy to ensure compliance in the future.

Senior Patrol Officer Patricia Powell, who recently was named a GLBT liaison, will also be visiting personally with officers in the field to emphasize the importance of this procedure. It should also be noted that Officer Powell reached out to the victims of the Piedmont Park assault upon learning of the incident, and is re-doubling her efforts to communicate with the gay community, including the forming of a new GLBT advisory board for the APD.

Six people ranging in age from 13 to 19 were arrested minutes after they allegedly attacked a gay couple about 10 p.m. on Friday in Piedmont Park.

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