Opinion: City of Atlanta has resources to address spike in violence

A man was found shot to death Friday evening in a car that crashed into a tree, Atlanta police said.
A man was found shot to death Friday evening in a car that crashed into a tree, Atlanta police said.

Crime is the number-one concern of residents throughout Atlanta. This condition didn’t emerge suddenly, and it won’t subside quickly. Rhetoric alone won’t create the level of peace and safety so conspicuously absent these days. Here are a few concrete, common-sense steps that I believe would get us going in the right direction.

Howard Shook
Howard Shook

  • In order to stem the outflow of police officers, let’s offer them a meaningful retention bonus.
  • How about a public persuasion campaign demanding that the courts resume operations — even if temporarily on a remote, and thus limited, basis?
  • Because it is widely suspected that more than a few bars and clubs are masquerading as restaurants — places that consistently cause more than their share of trouble -- let’s apply the available people-power to shut down the bad actors.
  • We need more cameras, and we need to repair the inoperable ones.

Members of the Atlanta City Council can, and have, passed a number of measures aimed at getting us to a better place. But the fact is, when we were sworn in none of us got a gun and a badge, or a robe and a gavel. We supervise the two, three, or four people who work in our offices.

The other 8,000-plus city employees work for someone else. Every one of the activities mentioned in the above paragraphs could be accomplished via an email traveling down the appropriate chains-of-command.

And don’t let anyone tell you that we don’t have the money. Even in this pandemic-stricken economy, there is plenty of money. It is a tough but simple matter of prioritization. Except in this case it shouldn’t be tough, because if public safety isn’t government’s primary responsibility, what is?

Howard Shook represents District 7 on the Atlanta City Council.

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