Georgia lawmakers hold first hearing on Atlanta crime

The Georgia House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held their first hearing Monday on crime in the city of Atlanta.

During the meeting, state lawmakers heard from law enforcement, state officials, and other stakeholders.

Back in March, House Speaker David Ralston tasked the committee with coming up with ways the state can help reduce crime in the capital city.

"The residents of Atlanta are Georgians and we all live under the same Constitution. Let me quote to you from Article One, Section 1 of the Georgia Constitution. 'Protection to person and property is the paramount duty of government and shall be impartial and complete,'" Speaker Ralston read. "Let that be your mandate. Do good work and do it quickly." 

Speaker Ralston also announced he plans to include an additional $3 million in his budget proposals for the remainder of this fiscal year and next year to provide for additional state law enforcement in Atlanta. $2 million would pay for an additional 20 Georgia State Patrol troopers to work inside the city limits. The other $1 million would go to increasing the staffs of the GBI's Gang Task Force and the Department of Law's Human Trafficking Task Force.

"Selfishly, you know, we'd always like more boots on the ground--agents. I think people are surprised when they find out how small the GBI investigative section is," said GBI Director Vic Reynolds. 

SEE ALSO: Georgia House speaker calls for more troopers to fight Atlanta crime

Major Josh Lamb with the Georgia State Patrol told committee members that more officers would help, but hiring them may prove difficult because of current attitudes towards law enforcement. 

"We're not the only ones. We're suffering from something that I'm sure almost all law enforcement agencies across the country are suffering from right now and that's lack of man power," explained Major Lamb. "If you embolden society to dislike the police, don't be surprised when people are not signing up to do this job. I mean, that's just a consequence of--that's just the reality of the situation." 

Assistant Atlanta Police Chief Todd Coyt said morale is improving among officers in the department and he said crime statistics are as well.

"I believe because the jails are now open and courts are now open that helps us deal with the people that want to violate the laws," Asst. Chief Coyt explained. 

Committee Chairman J. Collins, R-Villa Rica, said they will hold more hearings over the coming months. 

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