Grassroots organization starts community cop watch, safety patrol in Southwest Atlanta

Community Movement Builders an organizing collective in the historic southwest Pittsburgh community of Atlanta has started a community cop watch and safety patrol in the neighborhood, according to a press release.

The purpose of the patrol is to prevent police harassment by shining a spotlight on policing activities, raising community member’s awareness and assertion of their rights and creating a buffer that reduces entanglement with the criminal justice system.

Patrols will also provide an opportunity for community members to develop conflict prevention/de-escalation/resolution skills to prevent incidents that could result in arrest by the police. The patrol will begin this 4 p.m. Saturday from the organization’s community house at 790 Welch Street.

“The patrols are a necessary component of our advocacy for community control over policing in poor and working-class Black communities in southwest Atlanta and beyond. Our goal is for CMB Patrols to be a replicable model for all of our chapters and other organizations seeking to facilitate community control over public safety,” said CMB’s Director Kamau Franklin.

The organization will be raising resources to train and hire young adults from the neighborhood to be a part of the safety patrols. The ultimate vision as expressed by Jamal Taylor a patrol member and a resident of Pittsburgh, in Southwest Atlanta is “once the patrols have become stable, we will create an elected board of residents to govern the program, giving the community direct power over public safety in their neighborhood,” said leaders.

CMB organizers said they believe that the patrols are a missing equation in efforts to transform the criminal justice system because they actually shift power to community members by including them directly in aspects of public safety to reduce and eliminate the reliance on external forces. Patrols will identify and address emerging conflicts and will be grounded in community safety methods that include de-escalation, conflict resolution, trauma recovery, harm-reduction, and effective communication. The Patrols will model respectful communication and collaboration between community members.