FBI director: COVID-19, police staffing problems create 'combustible mix' for Atlanta crime

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff says he's had it with increased crime across Georgia.

The Georgia senator spoke in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill where he pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the root causes of increased violence.

Wray attributed the rise in crime in Atlanta to the impact of COVID-19 including unemployment, inmate releases, and staffing challenges in police departments.

"I think the impact of COVID cannot be underestimated. Whether it's trial backlogs, early inmate releases, unemployment, etc. You have more juveniles committing violent crime," Wray said. "You have certain prosecution practices and decreased sentences, which put recidivists back out on the street more readily, and that adds to its challenge. You also have the prevalence of firearms including interstate trafficking, by that I mean firearms in the hands of those who are prohibited, legally prohibited, from having them."

The FBI director called all the factors a "combustible mix."

There have been 113 homicides this year in Atlanta - 16% higher than the same time period in 2020 and 64% higher than in 2019.

During the same hearing, Wray revealed the FBI has been forced to move resources toward its domestic terrorism investigations in the past 18 months, saying the caseload has more than doubled to 2,700 ongoing investigations.

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