DOJ Investigating Why Five Atlanta PD Guns Were Issued To City Executive
Atlanta, GA – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into why Atlanta’s former chief financial officer was issued three Glock handguns, and two fully-automatic rifles, that were only supposed to be used by the Atlanta Police Department (APD).
According to department records, APD Executive Protection Unit leader Captain David Jones purchased a Glock 43 9mm handgun in 2016 using taxpayer funds, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The firearm was intended to be used only by APD, but was instead issued to then-Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard on the same day it was purchased.
The unauthorized issuance could be a violation of federal law, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office said that Beard’s duties as CFO did not require him to have a handgun.
Former Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, who was leading the department at the time the gun was issued to Beard, said that the purchase of the weapon appeared to have been made outside the agency’s normal protocols, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I had absolutely no idea that took place,” he told the paper.
After being issued the Glock 43, Beard later purchased nine Glock 19 handguns using the city’s credit card.
Beard said that the weapons were to be issued to APD, but one of the guns was ultimately issued to Beard, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
In January of 2017, more Glock 43 handguns were sent to City Hall for APD officers, and Beard was issued one of those as well.
Beard didn’t return the three handguns until after his time in office ended in 2018.
The DOJ is also looking into two fully-automatic AR-15 rifles that Beard purchased with taxpayer dollars, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
According to police, Beard told the distributor that the federally-restricted rifles were for APD, but he kept them in his possession.
In March of 2018, shortly before he left office, Beard logged the fully-automatic weapons into police custody.
“I placed 2 AR-15s into property that we were holding for Ex-CFO Jim Beard,” the police report read, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “While Mr. Beard was employed by the city he asked us to secure his weapons because he was in between houses. After Jim separated from the city we contacted him a few times to ask if he could recover his property. He did not recover his property.”
The weapons have since been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a city spokesperson told the paper.
Bottoms’ spokesperson said that Beard listed an APD officer as a co-purchaser for the rifles, but that the officer told investigators that the CFO used his name on purchasing forms “without his knowledge,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
An APD spokesperson said the department doesn’t even do business with the manufacturer Beard purchased the custom-built weapons from.
“It sounds like he was in the market for a fully-automatic weapon and used the city to make the purchase for himself,” attorney Matthew Kilgo told the paper.
If so, Beard could be charged with a felony under state law, he added.
On Nov. 21, the Atlanta Board of Ethics and Independent Compliance determined that Beard used his city-issued credit card to make multiple other improper purchases while working as the city’s CFO, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He was ordered to pay $84,322 in restitution and a $18,700 fine as a result.
A spokesperson for Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said that the APD has amended their procedures to ensure that the department’s firearms are not issued to unauthorized personnel in the future.