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Avondale: ‘Breakdown’ led to 12-day delay in abduction alert


clai brownOfficials in Avondale Estates today said a “breakdown in communication” led to a 12-day delay in alerting residents to an attempted child abduction in broad daylight.

Parents reported June 17 that a woman driving a Honda Element had stopped about 3 p.m. the day before and tried to cajole their 12-year-old daughter into getting into her car. The girl, who was walking home from the DeKalb County community’s swimming pool, was alarmed and walked instead to the front door of the nearest home.

Word of the abduction attempt circulated among some parents in the neighborhood, but police issued no official word on the incident until June 29. Normally, as a matter of routine, the city sends out notices about attempted car break-ins and burglaries within 24 hours.

At one point, before an official announcement, a city official suggested to one resident that the delay was a result of concern for the child.

City Manager Clai Brown (right) said today that the abduction was reported to officers on the next shift after the report came in, but no one told Police Chief Gary Broden. The city has completed retraining on procedures for passing on crime reports to residents, Brown said.

Here is the complete text of Brown’s statement, as well as a link to a report on the incident Friday by WSB-TV.

July 13, 2009

Dear Residents,

As part of our process of continuous improvement, the purpose of this email is to share with you the action we have taken regarding the attempted child abduction which occurred on June 16th.

A key issue identified in our assessment was the delay between the time the incident was reported to the police and the time the Crime Alert email was sent to residents.  While the information was immediately passed on to the oncoming shift during roll call, it was not immediately passed on to the Chief of Police.  This was a break down in communication.  As you know our City Crime Alerts are sent out immediately after information is passed on.  To address this issue, additional training on the procedure for reporting incidents and notifying residents has been completed.

I want to personally assure you that public safety is our top priority.  Our police officers are dedicated to assisting you and work hard to provide the level of public safety that you deserve.  Keeping you informed and part of that process makes our City a safer place to live.


R. Clai Brown
City Manager





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