Education

Atlanta Public Schools Swears In New Police Force

Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin stands in front of officers in the newly formed Atlanta Public Schools Police Department.
Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin stands in front of officers in the newly formed Atlanta Public Schools Police Department.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta Public Schools now has its own police force. A new chief of police and 67 officers were sworn in Thursday night at the Center for Learning & Leadership. 

These new officers will act as the school district’s school resource officers and replace members of the Atlanta Police Department in the city’s middle and high schools starting July 1. 

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said these are sworn police officers, but they’ll also teach and counsel students.

“It’s a three-part model, anchored in social emotional learning,” Carstarphen said. “Helping teach kids the skills on how to build healthier relationships, how to self monitor and control their behavior and also express emotions in healthier ways.”

Newly-appointed Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin retired as captain of the Fulton County sheriff’s office in 2010 and is a graduate of Atlanta Public Schools. 

He said more than 500 people applied for the 67 spots.

A minimum of three years experience as an officer was required to qualify. The 67 officers are from Fulton and DeKalb counties and even Atlanta’s police department.

“I think enforcement will be child-centered that feels a little more personal, caring and designed by grade level,” Carstarphen said. “What we’re trying to do is match officers to schools with the right temperament. For some kids, I do think it will feel like a lighter touch. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be firm and true to ensuring we’re maintaining safety and security in our schools and also following the expectations of the law.”

The officers have an average of 16 years of experience. 

A note of disclosure: WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.