With a number of crimes occurring over the past few months, the increase in crime coupled with the increase in COVID-19 numbers has Atlanta on edge.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addressed media.
“We’ve seen a murder, in our city, the likes of which we have not seen in quite some time,” Bottoms said. “I don’t put this in the category of the COVID-crime wave. This does not fit the description of anything that we’ve seen primarily. The violence we’ve seen over the past year has been between people who know one another. People who have some type of interaction and the vast majority of our murders have been as a result of gun violence.”
Bottoms says that law enforcement doesn’t yet have all of the information they need to make an arrest in the murder of the Katie Janness and her dog Bowie.
Atlanta Police Department (APD) Chief Rodney Bryant was also in attendance for the press conference and addressed violent crime in the City of Atlanta. Bryant says the summer plan is starting to see numbers constrict.
“Clearly it’s not where we’d like them to be but we are seeing levels of improvement as it relates to where we are with violent crime,” Bryant said. “Overall crime in the city is up 12% with a majority of it around property crime, but the numbers are down 11% compared to 2019. We attribute this to our summer plan which allows us to expand our personnel into more targeted locations where we were seeing historical incidences of crime, additionally this is done with the partnership of our federal, state and local partners.”
Dubbed Operation Phoenix, Bryant says that the federal partners have helped target violent offenders which is much different than going after their repeat offenders. The addition of the nuisance property Code that reached Phase II in May was aimed at cracking down on nuisance properties that contribute to violent crime.
The legislation creates a new section within the Nuisances article (Sec. §74-175) that allows the City to declare properties contributing to the commission of violent conduct or crime a public nuisance.
“This gave us the ability to target the locations that we were seeing violent crimes as well as issues that were quality of life concerns to the community,” Bryant said. “We’ve been able to reduce the number of violence around these locations and this is done in partnership with many of our state departments as well as our city departments.”
Bryant also said that the FBI has been called for the homicide investigation of Janness’ murder.
Mayor Bottoms also addressed rumors of a serial killer on the loose in the city of Atlanta but said there is no evidence of that.
“I know there have been several rumors about a serial killer on the loose in our city. We don’t have any evidence of that. Also that this was a hate crime, as of now, we don’t have any proof of that as well,” Bottoms said. “This is not to say that things will not change but at this point, we don’t have any confirmation of either of those things. I want to clarify that.”
The murder of Janness is the first murder at Piedmont Park in nearly 12 year according to Mayor Bottoms.
“This is a very unusual situation but the reality is, the vast majority of our parks don’t have cameras in them,” Bottoms said.
There are nine cameras in Piedmont Park according to Jon Keen, Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer but they were installed in 2008 and an assessment was done on them in 2017.
“Ultimately, those cameras are based on obsolete technology, they do not integrate with our video integration center,” Keen said. “We have not removed those cameras because we still think their presence is valuable. As the mayor mentioned, she is committed and made it a priority to invest in cameras throughout the city.”