Mayor Reed Serves Tough Menu at 2014 State of the City Address
2/21/2014, 9:46 a.m.
ATLANTA - Mayor Kasim Reed Wednesday (Feb. 19) served up raw facts and hard truth as food for thought at the annual State of the City Address breakfast at the Marquis Ballroom of Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
On the menu: Repeat offenders of violent crimes, public schools and economic challenges.
“We need to make sure repeat offenders are not on the streets,” Reed said to the packed ballroom that featured prominent business trailblazers, community leaders, public officials, honored guests and other notables. “When someone is arrested 95 times and convicted 75 times, that person should not go home on probation.”
Overall, Atlanta has seen 40-year lows in crime, he added, which is due, in large part, to the growing police presence throughout the city.
Despite the record lows in crime, Atlanta remains highly ranked nationally. The city officially has the 9th highest crime rate ranking (of cities with a population of 100,000 to 499,000), per the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data collected and calculated by CQ Press in 2013.
“Our job is clear and that is to continue to target those violent repeat offenders and bring those individuals to justice,” Atlanta’s Police Chief George N. Turner told The Atlanta Voice. “It is up to the judiciary system to hold those folks accountable for the actions they’ve been convicted of.”
Reed and his men and women in police blue are focused on cracking down on hardened criminals with a lust for violent crimes, but the battle won in the streets is not translating to the courtrooms.
“Of the 481 A.P.E.X. arrests, 95 percent were convicted of the crime they were charged but 72 percent spend no time in jail,” Mayor Reed cited. The Atlanta Police Department of A.P.E.X. (Atlanta Proactive Enforcement Interdiction) Unit is specifically dedicated to violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, rape, and murder.
From 2010 to 2012, 50 percent of the individuals leaving prisons in Georgia were released into 18 metropolitan Atlanta counties, per data provided by U.S. District Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
“If you’re a felon, and you’re committing a violent crime in Fulton County, you have between a 15 and 20 percent chance of serving jail time,” Reed explained, illustrating the alarming disparity of violent crime convictions in Fulton compared to other neighboring counties.
Supported by Georgia Department of Corrections data, Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. CEO Norma Joy Barnes states black males represent 27 percent of Georgia’s population, but make up 68 percent of Georgia’s prison population. In Fulton, the incarceration rate for black males is 87.1 percent, and in DeKalb, it is 87.3 percent. This number is growing among black youths.
After tragic episodes, such as Trayvon Martin, Darius Simmons, and Marietta-teen Jordan Davis, perception of black criminality has innocent black youths caught between a bullet and a target.
"Well, I think that it shows that Atlanta made the right decision to make the young people a priority," Mayor Reed told The Atlanta Voice.
He also shared his disagreement with the Michael Dunn mistrial verdict. Dunn case is related to his shooting into an SUV full of teenagers during an argument over loud music. The Florida jury found Dunn guilty on four of five charges, but not on the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Davis.