Kasim Reed acted ethically using “blue lights,” city ethics board says

The city of Atlanta’s Ethics Board on Thursday rejected a complaint that Mayor Kasim Reed acted unethically in his use of emergency “blue lights” to get to meetings.

Activist watchdog George Anderson in a November filing accused Reed of violating a state code prohibiting personal use of official government property and of failure to uphold the integrity of office.

The charges relate to news reports that Reed had been observed 10 times over five weeks using emergency “blue lights” and sirens to speed through traffic for meetings and other events. In one instance this past September, the mayor’s security detail was involved in a Cobb County accident that sent the driver of the other vehicle to the hospital.

The mayor’s driver in the accident, Sgt. Stephen Nichols, has been charged with driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain lane, improperly making a U-turn and for improper use of sirens.

In dismissing Anderson’s complaint, the board said the city’s municipal code gives Reed and department heads latitude on personal use of government vehicles for safety and security reasons, including the use of “blue lights” from law enforcement vehicles.

The board also said it did not have jurisdiction to enforce state laws governing use of “blue lights” and sirens.

The ethics panel’s decision backs up assertions by the mayor’s office and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner that the mayor did not violate any city codes. Others, such as Vincent Champion, southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, have questioned the legality.

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