ATLANTA - Atlanta’s chief of police told members of the Atlanta City Council he is livid over the weekend arson of a police cruiser that he blames on protesters of the controversial Atlanta Public Safety Training Facility.
Chief Daren Schierbaum briefed members of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on the arson at their Monday afternoon meeting.
"On Saturday, we had a group that has expressed their opposition to the public safety training center to set fire to one of these vehicles," he said.
The chief estimates the value of the burned vehicle is $80,000.
CRUISERS BOUGHT AS INCENTIVES
Schierbaum says his department purchased 361 cruisers last year after officers who left the department for other departments indicated during exit interviews that the lack of take-home vehicles was a major reason for leaving.
The chief said his department has made a concerted effort to encourage officers to live within the city limits, but arsons like this by opponents of the public safety training center undermine that attempt and ultimately hurts taxpayers.
"That is an $80,000 price tag right back to the citizens of Atlanta, Georgia," he said. "They claim responsibility for that price tag, and at the same time they claim responsibility for making this entire neighborhood feel less safe."
Schierbaum told committee members his department has executed four search warrants in connection with the Greendale Road arson and others, and investigators believe two people committed the crimes.
PEOPLE SHOULD OPPOSE LAWFULLY
He says people who oppose the $91-million dollar facility should do so lawfully.
"We have places you stand to let your voice be heard if you are opposed to something when you want your elected officials to reconsider something or be heard," Schierbaum said.
Earlier in the day, protesters held a news conference in Lakewood Heights, complaining that multiple agencies had raided three homes in the area.
One homeowner told reporters the homes were targeted for their opposition to what they call "Cop City." He claimed the warrants were based on a lie, and not to find evidence of the arson.
The FBI, ATF, GBI and Atlanta Police are all investigating this arson, with Chief Schierbaum saying investigators believe two people are responsible.
"They [protestors] claim responsibility for trying to force an officer out of the city that he loves, who's put his children in the school district," he said.
He told committee members the city will not allow police officers or citizens to be held hostage by fear and intimidation and vowed an arrest would be made.