“This is about protecting families across metro Atlanta,” Ossoff said. “The violent crime crisis requires a continued and robust response. Departments like the College Park (Police) Department need the ability to analyze crime scene evidence and to analyze spent shell casings ... so that they can apprehend suspects.”
The announcement comes after the national surge in violent crimes that many link to the pandemic has shown few signs of abating. Homicides in Atlanta, for instance, were up for the third year in a row last year with 162 homicide investigations.
College Park Chief of Police Connie Rogers said Tuesday that gun violence has been a persistent problem, but it was on the decline prior to the pandemic.
“I know it’s hard to remember that, but that’s true,” she said, adding that gun violence is the leading cause of death of children and young adults under the age of 19.
With the ballistic database in-house, College Park will no longer need to send casings to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for analysis, Rogers said. That could speed up an investigation by two or three months.
And because law enforcement can partner with College Park for access to compare ballistics in the system, authorities from Cobb to Gwinnett to Rockdale counties can trace crimes that have links across jurisdictions.
“It’s the same small group of people creating all the havoc in all municipalities,” Rogers said.
College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom said the beauty of the system is its ability to be support various communities.
“We’re all trying to get something from the same pool,” she said of funding. “Enhanced technology is basically a force multiplier. That’s why it’s so important at this time.”
Ossoff said time is of the essence in violent crime investigations and that delays in analyzing spent shell casings can make the difference in saving lives.
“I’ve got a baby daughter at home,” he said, “There is no worse nightmare for any parent in the state of Georgia than that a violent criminal could have been apprehended ... (but) instead remained at large resulting in the death or grievous injury of a child. That is happening to families in metro Atlanta.”