Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has unveiled a sweeping new plan to address the reportedly rising violent crime in the Georgia city. “The spike in violent crime in Atlanta and across the country must be addressed by both immediate and long-term actions,” the mayor told reporters in an address on Tuesday. “The One Atlanta: One APD Immediate Action Plan will address crime, and also the systemic issues that lead to violence.”
A focus on criminal conduct has been a major talking point for the past year. Atlanta’s majority black population made it a crucial city during this summer’s protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
As such, the introduction of any new anti-crime legislation is often viewed cautiously at best by many racial equality activists. That the mayor’s action plan calls out the systemic issues that lead to violence, explicitly, shows that she is at least aware of the perception such a bill could have among activists.
The plan, unveiled on Tuesday, covers a wide variety of topics. It purports to expand the enforcement of “nuisance property” laws, expand the “Operation Shield” camera network, and to support neighborhood safety planning. Another section of the plan promises to allocate more resources to enforce laws related to gang violence and gun violence.
The plan includes a focus on stopping auto-related crimes, including car thefts and street racing. Notably, the plan has language that specifically addresses a public safety training academy, as well as improving the Atlanta Police Department’s recruiting operation as well as new officer retention.
In the past year, new officer turnover has been alarmingly high in the city, likely due in no small part to the increase in both crimes and protests aimed at police reform.
Mayor Bottoms’ action plan is a far cry from protesters’ calls to “Defund the Police”. Many activists have insisted that police are overtaxed and shoulder too many responsibilities within American communities. As such, they recommend defunding oversized police departments and scaling back law enforcement operations to focus primarily on violent crimes.
Instead of police addressing public health concerns like drug addiction and mental health, activists have called on the city to use police budgets to spin up new agencies specifically geared to handle such issues.
Opponents of this plan have argued that police play an important role in communities as public servants who can react to all manner of emergency.
“We all need to work together and figure it out and really work to do something that will work to address the systemic issues that we face in Atlanta,” said Atlanta city councilman Antonio Brown.