Heads of 5 metro Atlanta counties meet to talk public safety

The leaders of DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Clayton counties (from left to right: DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid, Fulton Chair Robb Pitts, Gwinnett chair Nicole Love Hendrickson and Clayton Chair Jeff Turner) met in Fulton’s Central Library for lunch and conversation about how to keep metro Atlanta safe on Friday, May 20, 2022. (Ben Brasch/AJC)

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The leaders of DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Clayton counties (from left to right: DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid, Fulton Chair Robb Pitts, Gwinnett chair Nicole Love Hendrickson and Clayton Chair Jeff Turner) met in Fulton’s Central Library for lunch and conversation about how to keep metro Atlanta safe on Friday, May 20, 2022. (Ben Brasch/AJC)

The elected officials who represent roughly 40% of all Georgians met Friday to talk about one thing: public safety.

The leaders of Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cobb and Clayton counties met in Fulton’s Central Library for lunch and conversation about how to keep metro Atlanta safe.

“The No. 1 problem we’re facing is the rise in crime,” said Fulton chair Robb Pitts.

They all agreed it was important to work together like this now because people don’t think about county and municipal border, especially when running from cops.

“The bad guys couldn’t care less about a county line,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.

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Cobb chair Lisa Cupid said crime has increased in part because COVID-19 has disrupted the support network that everyone had formed. Now, folks are more scattered.

They also discussed how police departments are struggling to retain and recruit employees, which means the counties are competing with each other for the same talent. The county leaders said they were thinking about standardizing the pay and benefits among the counties to even the field.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked each county leader what, regardless of budget or politics, they would do to improve public safety in their communities. Here are shortened versions of their responses:

  • Thurmond: Public safety officers need more parental involvement.
  • Cupid: Citizens and police needs to better partner and then engage the courts and district attorney.
  • Gwinnett chair Nicole Love Hendrickson: Policymakers need to fix root causes like affordable housing.
  • Clayton chair Jeff Turner (former Clayton police chief): The public needs to fix their perception of the police, adding that few cops make mistakes.
  • Pitts: Parents need to step up. He said government can only do so much because parents are supposed to voice concerns to elected officials like him who “write the checks.”

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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Credit: WSBTV Videos