ATLANTA - Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant told state lawmakers Tuesday that their partnerships with state and federal entities have allowed them to take a more aggressive approach to tacklE crime over the last year or so.
Chief Bryant testified in front of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which House Speaker David Ralston tapped to hold hearings this summer on the issue of crime in Atlanta.
"We aren't running from the fact that we're seeing a significant problem as it relates to gang violence, homicides, murder rates in the City of Atlanta and aggravated assaults," Chief Bryant said.
He did, however, outline some of the changes he has made to help address the problem, including restructuring the department to foster more collaboration between investigators. APD also plans to open a new mini-precinct in Buckhead to help with crime there.
"What we were able to do is take a look at the crime we were seeing in Buckhead, what was causing that crime, how it looked to us on how we could better address it," explained Chief Bryant. "We recognized that most of what we were seeing was not being addressed because our officers were out doing traffic enforcement and addressing traffic accidents. So, to give them the ability to patrol and respond better, we recognized that they needed additional resources."
Throughout these hearings, lawmakers have consistently asked law enforcement representatives what they believe has led to the uptick in crime in Atlanta and statewide. Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia said there is no one answer.
"What has happened is with the pandemic, we have had a perfect storm. so to speak, of repeat offenders and some violent offenders with access to firearms. We know that statistics show that the more stops police make, the more search warrants they execute, they are encountering more and more individuals with firearms," Skandalakis explained. "But the increase in firearms alone doesn't account for what has happened in the violent crime. That is something that we're going to have to study for some time to see exactly what's going on."
Skandalakis also pointed to the extended shutdown of courts and the decision to release some inmates from jails because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee will hold its next hearing in early September.
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