Friday morning at City Hall, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, and their anti-violence council laid out the findings from their report into the city’s rise in crime. Bottoms said the committee is recommending an existing program that aims to use community and neighborhood leaders to intervene in situations before they become violent.
According to their research, 70% of the city’s homicide rate, aggravated assault and robbery are committed by people between the ages of 25 and older. Additionally, youth under 16 years of age committed 10% of violent crimes in Atlanta. Moreover, the crimes were concentrated with victims on average being between 20 and 29. Of the homicides committed in Atlanta over the past year, the advisory board was able to determine relationships in 46% of the homicides. Of that number, seven in ten deaths were due to proximity, the suspect had a prior relationship to his/her victim.
The Anti-Violence Advisory Council’s recommendations include:
- Creation of a Mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction
- Launching, continuation or expansion of nine critical initiatives focused on locations and individuals most impacted by violence
- Investing $70 million to fund the nine critical initiatives
The Mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction would be a dedicated crime-prevention office that leads, coordinates and supports the City’s initiatives.
The nine critical initiatives for violence reduction include: public awareness, community capacity and infrastructure building, expansion of programs focused on violence prevention, local security planning, focus on violent repeat offenders, increased enforcement of nuisance properties, hiring 250 additional officers in 2022, expanding the City’s Operation Shield camera network by 250 cameras this year and completing the One Atlanta: Light Up the Night program to install 10,000 new streetlights in high violence areas by December.
“The Advisory Council evaluated seven key initiatives led or coordinated by the mayor’s office that are already underway, and 34 actions led or coordinated by the Atlanta Police Department,” Bottoms said. “Overall, the Advisory Council believes that the city has a very broad strategy plan. But, our efforts would be better focus if we honed in on this strategy to specific locations, and specific individuals who are most afflicted by crime.
The Council recommended dedicating $70 million to fund the nine initiatives—comprised of $50 million in public funding and $20 million from private and philanthropic funds.
Friday’s presser came one day after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation laid out the ways they’ve helped local cities and municipalities combat gang activity, crime and street racing. However, Atlanta’s rising crime is indeed a virulent political controversy. This morning Mayor Bottoms blamed Governor Brian Kemp for reopening businesses closed because of COVID-19 sooner than other states, a step she said encouraged out-of-state residents anxious to get out of their homes to come to Georgia conduct illegal activities.
Kemp said Thursday Atlanta’s crime wave is the result of inadequate enforcement of the law.
“A lack of elected leadership in the city is creating an anti-police, soft-on-crime environment,” he said. “I’m ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with any local law enforcement agency to go after violent crime and street racing. [But] I am not going to put my people on the front line.”
While Governor Kemp accused Mayor Bottoms of wanting to ‘defund the police,’ Bottoms said she approved a 30% pay raise for all officers within the Atlanta Police Department.
“The FBI, the DEA, ATF, all have been phenomenal,” Bryant said. “Our Georgia State Patrol and GBI have been very helpful, as our local partners: the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the other municipalities, police officer departments, we all come together and speak regularly understanding that the crime problem we’re seeing is not an Atlanta problem. This is a regional problem that you can replicate throughout our nation. Putting together this task force will be helpful to support the idea of bringing on 250 police officers in the next year. And, for us to be able to restructure what we’re doing as it relates to background and recruitment.”
Monday morning, Georgia Republicans will hold a summit discussing crime and and public safety. However, Bottoms said Kemp is grandstanding because he’s heading into a fierce re-election fight. She also pointed out the state’s overall rising crime rates and said Atlanta’s crime statistics are considerably more transparent than the ones the state of Georgia has released.
“This is the same man who didn’t know that the Coronavirus could be spread by asymptomatic people until we were several months into the pandemic,” Bottoms said. “So I don’t make any assumptions about what he knows to be true. But it’s election season. And, I’m not the one who held the shotgun on a 14 year old to show people that I was tough on crime. We’ve been doing the work. And it’s unfortunate that we don’t have the leadership and the partnership that we need. It’s unfortunate that fingers are being pointed, and I believe we place blame on city leadership from the metro area, and the mayor of Atlanta. He’s the governor the entire state.”