A vow for a safe Atlanta

George Turner is Atlanta police chief. Dave Wilkinson is president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Terrorist acts are tragic, frightening and unnerving. The Boston Marathon bombing killed and maimed innocent people. It terrorized the city’s residents and our nation. But as the citizens and police forces that cooperated so magnificently in Boston demonstrated, American vigilance is eternal, and our will cannot be stopped.

That sentiment holds true in Atlanta, where we are using best-in-class practices and new crime-prevention technology to prepare for such a threat before it happens.

Atlanta is at the leading edge of a state-of-the-art revolution in law enforcement. Our Video Integration Center (VIC), inaugurated last year, captures live, real-time video of more than 1,400 private and public security cameras in high-traffic areas of downtown, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Midtown and Buckhead.

By 2017, we expect to have more than 10,000 cameras trained on public spaces in the city, supporting our uniformed officers and expanding our ability to monitor activity where people live, work and play.

The Atlanta Police Department’s VIC is just part of a larger public safety solution known as Operation Shield. Through Operation Shield, APD is combining a multitude of previously independent tools into a dynamic network of crime-fighting tools. Public and private cameras, the 911 emergency system, license plate readers, arrest records and other databases are being integrated to help investigators identify, track and apprehend suspects. Video analytic software will identify suspicious behaviors, such as abandoned packs left on a street, and alert the officers monitoring the network in real time.

We’ve seen more technological advances in policing in the past three years than in the three previous decades. Our goal to make Atlanta the safest major city in the nation remains the same.

Operation Shield supports that goal by ensuring that we meet our three law enforcement imperatives: Deter crime and terrorist attacks; expand the eyes, ears and presence of law enforcement throughout the city, and speed the investigative process when crime occurs.

The FBI uniform crime statistics show that we are safer than at any time in more than 40 years, with crime at a four-decade low. But we never take safety for granted. We know people feel safe when they have confidence police are visible, sensitive to their issues and concerns, and responsive.

The APD has made great strides in community outreach. Our 911 center has improved response times. Our 2,000 sworn officers — the highest level in city history — are better trained, better equipped and more attune to crime prevention than ever before.

We salute the excellent work of local, state and federal officials in Boston. And we commit to you, the citizens of Atlanta, that the vigilance shown by law enforcement officials in the wake of those sad events is matched by the Atlanta Police Department and our law enforcement partners at the state and federal level here in Atlanta. Our citizens and our city deserve no less.

George Turner is Atlanta police chief. Dave Wilkinson is president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation.