Atlanta City Council to create public safety commission for policy reform

Crime tape lay strewn across the road in the 1000 block of Welch Street SW in this Oct. 6, 2020, file photo. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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Crime tape lay strewn across the road in the 1000 block of Welch Street SW in this Oct. 6, 2020, file photo. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Atlanta City Council wants to create a Public Safety Commission tasked with providing recommendations for public safety reforms as violent crime continues to rattle Atlanta.

The resolution sponsored by Councilmember Joyce Sheperd asks more than 20 public officials from the city, Fulton County and DeKalb County to convene for the next 12 months to create a public safety recommendations report for the mayor and city council.

The council unanimously passed the proposal after Atlanta experienced another weekend with multiple shootings that left two dead and more than seven wounded.

Members of the commission include the mayor, city council president, Atlanta’s chief judge of municipal court, and the interim police chief. In addition to other city officials, the commission will include law enforcement officials from Fulton and DeKalb counties, including the district attorneys, solicitor generals, and the superior court judges.

The commission’s duties will end once they deliver their recommendations report to the city.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who two weeks ago announced the creation of a separate working group to provide recommendations for reducing crime, said in a statement Monday that her Anti-Violence Advisory Committee will begin work this week to help improve public safety.

Bottoms, who recently announced she will not seek a second term, reiterated the violence stems from a “COVID crime wave.” City Council President and mayoral candidate Felicia Moore also addressed the crime in a statement Monday.

“Crime in our city is continuing to escalate and decisive steps need to be taken. I have previously requested APD to share with Council data analyzed from all homicides and gun violence from 2020 to present that will identify potential trends,” Moore said in a statement.

“In identifying these trends, we can deploy targeted critical resources and begin working with neighborhoods across the city, the Council and the Administration to take action in a collaborative manner.”

Homicides were up 60% in Atlanta in 2020, and they have continued to rise this year. The number of shooting incidents and shooting victims this year are up by 41% and 35%, respectively, according to the latest data reported May 8 from the police department. Dozens of Atlanta police officers left the force last year, and the department is several hundred officers short of its full strength.

Bottoms recently announced a plan to hire 250 additional officers.

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