Shirley Franklin on Public Safety
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington held a joint press conference Thursday to discuss public safety. Below is Franklin’s full statement from that event. Read it and share your thoughts below.
There is no question that crime is on the minds of many Atlantans, and as Mayor it is important for me to take time to today to address the issue.
Many people want to argue about crime. Is it up or is it down? Is it happening in one area of the City more than another area? Do we need 2000 police officers or 2500? Is it more violent than last year or less?
These may be good questions. But there is no need to argue. Because, if any person is a victim of crime, it is one too many. And while there has been more coverage of some high profile attacks, we treat all victims the same … and any one victim is too many.
So, Chief Pennington and I are here today not to argue, but to talk about solutions, to talk about real strategies that we are implementing right now to address the Atlanta’s crime.
Our strategy is simple and straightforward. (1) We will put more officers on the street; (2) we will use them to target gang-related crimes, which we believe is driving much of what people are concerned about; and (3) we will engage the community.
FIRST, putting more officers on the street:
- We are adding 27 officers to the force beginning on September 15. These new officers will be assigned to foot patrols, including patrols in Zone 1 where there have been recent high profile car jackings.
- 39 additional officers will hit the streets in December, with the graduation of a new recruit class
- We will begin two new recruit classes this fall: 23 officers funded by a federal (JAG) Justice Assistance Grant will begin September 1 and hit the streets 6 months afterwards; 50 officers funded from the federal COPS grant will be hired and in training classes by November
So that is a total of 139 more officers by the end of the year. And remember: just 3 weeks ago the furloughs ended, which means we now have 10% more man hours available to us.
SECOND, we are targeting gang-related crime. The experience of our officers is that much of the crime people are now worried about directly relates to gangs, especially youth gangs.
- We are increasing our gang task force from 6 officers to 25 officers.
- You will also see more aggressive enforcement of the curfew law to help deter juveniles from being on the streets after 11:00 pm when a lot of crimes are committed by young people
- APD will have more sweeps that target known gang areas—In fact, starting this Friday we will double the number of sweeps we have every month and we will do that with the coordinated resources from other state and local law enforcement organizations
- A sweep is when a group of officers go to many different hot spot locations and check for criminal activity, It is called a “sweep” because you don’t stay in one location very long, you check for criminal activity, make arrests, and then move on to the next hot spot and that usually lasts all night.
THIRD, we need the help of everyone in the community. The police do an admirable job of solving crime in our city BUT I believe they could use our help as well. If you think there is criminal activity in your neighborhood call Crime Stoppers Atlanta at (404) 577-TIPS (8477) or if you are on your blackberry or iPhone email your tip to specialenforcementsectiontips @atlantaga.gov.
Will this work? I have every confidence in APD because they have already gotten results by targeting their resources in this manner.
- In June of this year the gang task force began targeting “smash and grab” retail thefts
- In the last 45 days alone the gang task force has made 32 arrests, recovered over $20,000 in stolen goods and retrieved 8 stolen vehicles
- By quadrupling the number of resources in the gang unit, we think we can aggressively attack the problem
I also am convinced this will work because APD has a much longer track record of success.
Many people seem eager to dismiss or forget the progress we’ve made the last 8 years. But the progress is real and it needs to inform the debate that is going on now.
And as people debate and even argue, I want to be sure to recognize the achievements of nearly 1,700 sworn officers who work hard every day for you and me.
This is what these brave men and women have been able to accomplish over the past 8 years. We’ve come a long way from where we started thanks to them:
- By 2002, Atlanta had been ranked one of the highest crime cities in America for six straight years
- We were understaffed, losing police officers, and were unable to attract new police officers to fill the budgeted vacancies
- Since 2002, APD has reduced violent crimes by 24% (based on numbers audited by the FBI twice in the past four years)
- We have added 300 officers since 2002
- We dropped from no. 3 in the crime rankings to no. 15
- Our “cleared rate” – the percentage of cases we solve and make an arrest on – consistently ranks 20% higher than the national average
- We earned our CALEA accreditation; which included meeting 444 ‘best practice’ standards
- We instituted ‘COBRA’ – Command Operation Briefings to Revitalize Atlanta – to track crime in real time and respond to crime trends
- We re-designed beats for the first time in 20 years
- APD has partnered with the business community to create the Atlanta Police Foundation that provides critical strategic council to APD and supports key programs, such as: Recruitment, Advanced Training, Scholarships, Crime Stoppers Atlanta, Restoration of Mounted Patrol and In-city Housing for Officers