The ACC Police Department will issue a report on its response to the recent demonstrations, Chief Cleveland Spruill said in an interview with Mayor Kelly Girtz.
“We’re going to do our best to [do] a fair and impartial investigation, and when we’re wrong we’re going to say we’re wrong,” Spruill said. “We’ll share that report with the public; we’ll share that report with the manager, and they’ll have a chance to lay eyes on it and decide whether they’re in agreement with us or not.”
Spruill also said he will release footage this week from officers’ body cameras related to the May 31 World Without Cops protest, where police tear-gassed demonstrators who violated a curfew order. “Folks should have an opportunity to see it and make a decision on what their position is,” he said. A news conference to show the video has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 17. (UPDATE: Police said they’re still going through video and have postponed the news conference.)
Transparency is a priority, Spruill said during the June 10 conversation, noting that he has quickly released body-cam videos when officers shot civilians. “I want to be as transparent as I possibly can and get information out so that people can see what we’re doing,” he said. The chief said he’s a big fan of body cameras because officers wearing them tend to use less force, and they make it easier to hold officers accountable.
In addition, Spruill discussed Gov. Brian Kemp’s visit to Athens during another protest June 6, where the law enforcement presence included the National Guard blocking access to the UGA campus, as well as state troopers and state park police. (Kemp tweeted a widely shared photo of himself with Spruill at ACCPD headquarters.) Spruill said he had “no idea” Kemp was coming until he received a call that the governor was on his way and wanted to meet with him.
Spruill and Girtz spoke as part of the mayor’s weekly “Community Conversations,” available at YouTube.com/accgov.
In addition, the ACC Board of Elections will recount some of the absentee ballots from last week’s election after learning that the optical scanner used to count absentees may have rejected some votes that should have counted. The recount is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the day before the board is supposed to certify the election results.
As staff scanned nearly 15,000 absentee ballots June 9 and 10, members of a vote review panel noticed that the scanner was simply not recording some ballots where voters had only partially filled in circles. The scanner should have spit out those ballots so the bipartisan panel could examine them and determine whether they should count.
To try to determine how many absentees may have gone uncounted, the Board of Elections voted Monday to reprogram the scanner and rescan absentees cast by residents of the four precincts that make up school board District 2.
Initially chairman Jesse Evans wanted to look at a random sampling of 400 ballots, but ACC Attorney Judd Drake and Director of Elections Charlotte Soseby told him that’s illegal—under state law, a recount must include an entire precinct. Nor can the BOE recount ballots by hand, except under a court order. Hand-counting also raises the possibility of human error.
One member of the review panel, John Marsh, told the BOE that he did not believe the number of uncounted ballots was enough to sway any election results.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.