Atlanta mayor’s race: Brown says police non-emergency services are part of his campaign’s crime plan

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown (right) speaks to members of the press as Michelle Falconer (left) and Bishop John Lewis, chairman of the Vine City Civic Association, look during a press conference Inside Dome Atlanta across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown (right) speaks to members of the press as Michelle Falconer (left) and Bishop John Lewis, chairman of the Vine City Civic Association, look during a press conference Inside Dome Atlanta across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown says many of the crime-fighting ideas he has unveiled in his mayoral campaign are being used by the city police department, and have helped reduce violent crime.

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said Friday that the city’s homicide rate has dropped in the past few weeks, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms unveiled plans to invest $70 million into several public safety initiatives.

One of the mayor’s goals is to maintain the Atlanta Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD), which sends nonviolent offenders to social service programs instead of putting them in the criminal justice system.

Brown said Wednesday that he successfully co-sponsored the citywide expansion of PAD and it is one of his campaign priorities to “reimage public safety” in addressing crime. He also said he helped Atlanta obtain nearly $2 million to fund PAD’s expansion.

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“The root of crime that’s happening is a result of generational poverty and people struggling to survive in this city everyday,” Brown said.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said Bottoms has made investments into PAD a priority and championed it since 2017 — before Brown’s term on the council.

“Because of the Administration’s commitment, PAD services recently expanded to the entire city, and the program is on track to help more than 400 people avoid incarceration this year. As a result, these individuals will be connected with healthcare, employment, housing and other community support services,” according to the mayor’s office.

PAD leaders last month told the Atlanta City Council that PAD is on track to assist 450 people this year who would otherwise be arrested for nonviolent offenses. Officers can call PAD for misdemeanor offenders to provide housing or medical care instead of sending that person to jail.

When Atlanta police officers make PAD referrals, they receive merits toward their performance reports just as they would after they make traffic stops or arrests, according to a copy of an evaluation chart obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’s unclear if merits for PAD referrals matter just as much as the other actions committed by officers.

Brown said the idea is that by diverting people to non-emergency personnel, Atlanta can redirect its police force toward addressing violent crime. He has also called for a study into the creation of a Public Safety and Wellness Department — another pitch from his campaign — which would also focus on non-emergency incidents.

Several candidates are running to replace Bottoms as mayor in the November election. The major candidates so far include councilmen Brown and Andre Dickens, attorney Sharon Gay, Council President Felicia Moore, and former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter J.D. Capelouto contributed to this article.

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