DeKalb County sheriff holds safety seminar for Asian American-Pacific Islander business leaders

DeKalb County law officers spent Thursday morning having a frank conversation with Asian and Asian-American business owners about crime and the ways to prevent it.

Sheriff Melody Maddox hosted the program, hoping to open the door for candid dialogue between law enforcement and those in the Asian community who've been on edge following an uptick in targeted crimes against the AAPI community nationwide.

"We're going to incorporate the DeKalb County Police Department, Doraville, Chamblee, and others where these businesses are located. We want to include everybody because crime impacts everybody," said Sheriff Maddox.

Maddox said she's also considering firearms training for interested business owners and hopes to keep the dialogue open so that members of the AAPI community will feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns.

"It's not just Asian, Black or White or Latino communities, it's about looking at all of these communities as one," said the sheriff. "We have to work together to prevent and solve these problems," she added.

The safety seminar was held just weeks after a gunman killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in the metro Atlanta area. This compounded with an increase in violent threats over the last year has put many business owners on edge.

Police in several major cities saw a sharp uptick in Asian-targeted hate crimes between 2019 and 2020, according to data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. New York City went from three incidents to 27, Los Angeles from seven to 15, and Denver had three incidents in 2020 — the first reported there in six years.

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