Marietta OKs new rules for city’s officers
by Noreen Cochran
February 18, 2013 01:33 AM | 2911 views | 8 8 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Marietta Police Department is now up to speed with new regulations to help catch criminals, make the charges stick and keep people safe.

The City Council at its meeting Wednesday approved changes to 15 standard operating procedures for child abuse cases, car chases, criminal investigations, missing persons and other police matters.

Missing persons


Major Steve Kish said the 2011 murder of Jorelys Rivera, 7, whose case the Canton police force mishandled according to an official report by LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar, influenced a change in Marietta.

“That prompted a lot of agencies to revisit their missing persons policy,” said Kish, who is in charge of the Marietta police’s office of professional standards.

Unsolved cases are getting an extra layer of paperwork, but Kish said it can help uncover new clues.

“We determined we would do a follow-up form letter to all persons involved,” he said. “It helps our relationship with the victim’s family. We’re already calling them, but we didn’t have a letter. It also reminds the family to call us if they have any new information.”

Drug hauls


Illegal drugs used as evidence can now be brought to the GBI forensics lab in Decatur by any officer, not just a detective as previously assigned.

“It includes all police officers in the agency,” Kish said about sworn officers, which include patrol cops, probation officers and detectives.

Any of them can provide security for the shipment.

“We wanted to make sure it was an armed police officer that was taking it out there,” Kish said. “If there are drugs, it’s a large drop. There have been cases when there have been over $50,000 in street value taken to the lab. That’s not normal, but there have been occasions.”

Detective Christopher Weaver said originally detectives were tapped because they were carrying other evidence like murder weapons.

“If we’re going down there anyway, we’ll take a box,” he said.

When detectives were the only ones authorized, the regulation often interrupted their work on a case.

“To drop what you’re doing to make the trip, driving down I-75 and getting on the Connector, you can get tied up in some serious traffic,” Weaver said.

Now cases may be solved — and prosecuted — faster.

“The change is officers are available to go there without interrupting their schedule,” Weaver said. “It helps us out. It gets the evidence there quicker. The D.A.’s office likes it.”

Car chases


Before turning on lights and sirens, police can only chase a perpetrator’s car if murder, kidnapping, rape or other violent crime is suspected. Previously, the department allowed officers to decide if there was the “threat of death or serious bodily injury” if the perpetrator wasn’t caught.

“It was too subjective,” Kish said. “Previously, you could say, ‘When I pulled him over for a traffic stop and he fled, then he created an imminent threat.’”

This means cops will not give chase for lesser offenses.

“You have to weigh the need to catch the bad guy with the danger that you’re placing yourself, the suspect and the general public in when you’re involved in a pursuit,” Kish said.

Crimes against children


Child abuse inquiries have been streamlined so uniform officers do advance work for the detective who takes the case.

“The officer just gets the basic information,” Kish said about names, ages, addresses and phone numbers. “The child crime investigator should be doing a forensic interview with children that are victims of abuse because they have special training.”

Not doing this can cause a suspect to walk, he said.

“It could jeopardize the case if too much information is garnered by the officer in the initial investigation. It’s better to allow the detective to handle it,” Kish said.

The manual now includes six more steps Detective Mark Erion advocated.

“We had a case come up that went OK, but he felt we should put this into our policy so it’s everyone doing the same thing each time,” Kish said.

The protocol includes making sure the child is safe and comfortable, arranging for a nurse if rape is suspected, getting search warrants if necessary, videotaping victims’ statements and checking suspects’ criminal histories.

“These are all in federal guidelines that have been established for child abuse investigation,” Kish said.

Why the changes, and why now


Kish said the manual upgrade makes a reference source available.

“Most of the revisions are common-sense revisions,” he said.

Although the department just got the go-ahead Wednesday, the changes have been in the pipeline for four months.

“It’s not going to negatively impact anyone if we already do it. The police chief can issue a special order to put a revision into immediate effect although it’s going through that process,” Kish said.

Also, now they are enforceable.

“If there’s a violation of the policy prior to it being approved, they cannot be disciplined for that,” Kish said.

They also satisfy the state and federal authorities who oversee the city standards.

“We need to make sure we’re maintaining the highest standards possible because we have people inspecting us once every three years,” Kish said.
Comments
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mk-eye in the sky
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February 19, 2013
Keep up w/ drone news & facts, see website-

Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus
mk-wake up
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February 18, 2013
Doesn't anyone pay attention?

Austin Tx. PD is debuting a GPS vehicle tracking dart system called StarChase.

Marietta getting ready ?

And won't be long now, drones will be tracking our every move, too.
thomas38
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February 18, 2013
Better go get fitted for your tin foil hat so they can't read your thoughts Mary.
Just Wait
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February 18, 2013
Attention all drivers with no or suspended licenses, no insurance, here illegally, etc: next time Marietta PD turns the blue lights on you, DON'T STOP! By rule, they can't chase you. You're in the clear.
Be Careful
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February 18, 2013
Gee, thanks for publically advertising that officers will no longer chase for "lesser" crimes.

Way to give the bad guys information they can use.
anonymous
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February 18, 2013
Cobb county gov. is lying to the public.

Almost every hotel in Marietta is filled with families who abuse their kids on a regular bases and cops do nothing. And, don't be the one who calls the police about seeing or hearing about drug abuse or dealing as I have learned. The cops there act like they are involved in the dealing and want you to shut up about it.
Old Man
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February 18, 2013
Read the article again - it's Marietta Police, not Cobb County!
VFP42
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February 18, 2013
It sounds as though the Marietta Police recognize the automobile is the most dangerous part of everyone's day. Good job Marietta!
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