APD chief bemoans leniency in court system

- Atlanta's top cop told residents she needs help from the courts in the battle against crime. Specifically, in a gathering at a midtown firehouse, Erika Shields told the residents that criminals and suspects can get out of jail too easily.

The chief is critical of judges who routinely require no bond or little bond for defendants who may be accused of property crimes. All the same, Shields noted, they typically carry a gun while committing those crimes. Sometimes, they show those weapons.

The chief's comments come on the heels of two recent developments. In the neighborhoods bordering Georgia Tech, there have been seven armed robberies in one month.

And south of Atlanta, College Park Police said they broke up a car theft gang that struck more than a half-dozen jurisdictions, including Atlanta.

And the so-called ringleader, a man named Dante Bell, began his criminal career when he was a teenager. Bell has a long history of charges (incidents) and yet he had been able to walk the streets.

Ash Joshi, a defense attorney who used to be on the other side with the prosecution office in Fulton County, said while he understands the chief's frustration the decision on who is kept behind bars comes down to beds.

Joshi said prosecutors and judges will opt to place and keep violent offenders in jails and prisons, even if that means letting property offenders go early.

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