Dickens promotes 'Year of the Youth,' touts police training center in 2023 'State of the City' address

Mayor Andre Dickens announced the upcoming year will be focused on the "group project" that is Atlanta, highlighting efforts towards supporting young people and local law enforcement in his 2023 State of the City. 

Speaking at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown Atlanta Tuesday morning, Dickens discussed his vision of "every person, every nonprofit, every company, every government agency coming together to show up" for the city's young people.

It's a project the mayor is calling the "Year of the Youth," which Dickens says will be designed to help young people in Atlanta reach their full potential. 

"I was once a child of Atlanta. The leaders who came before me left their mark on this city. I am living proof of their legacy. I’m standing here because of the city they built," the mayor said before asking what legacy the people in the room would leave behind for the next generation. "In 30 years, these young people will be the leaders of this city. They’ll be sitting in your seats as the CEOs, nonprofit leaders, teachers, senators, governors. And even up here, on this stage, as the mayor."

Andre Dickens attends The Crown Jewel of Excellence Induction Ceremony at Mercedes Benz Stadium on February 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)

Dickens also highlighted his actions to support the men and women serving in first responder positions and in the Department of Corrections - pointing out investments in take-home vehicles for officers and new fire equipment.

Last week, the mayor posted statistics that suggested that violent crimes are down across the board year-over-year.

According to the Mayor's Office, the city has seen a 53% drop in homicides, a 65% drop in rapes, and a 19% drop in aggravated assaults.

The mayor also discussed the controversial Atlanta Public Safety Training Center in DeKalb County - a development that has led to protests and clashes between activists and local law enforcement agencies. 

In his speech, Dickens put his full support behind the plan, saying "we need more than paychecks & vehicles to support our public safety personnel. We need training facilities and our police and fire training centers have been long condemned. That’s why we’re building the state-of-the-art Atlanta Public Safety Training Center."

In March, Dickens announced he appointed 40 members of the community to a task force to help brainstorm new solutions about the site of the safety facility.

The task force, named the South River Forest and Public Safety Training Center Community Task Force, will focus on a number of areas including green space, sustainability, and "visioning, memorializing, and repurposing the former Atlanta Prison Farm Site."

In last year's "State of the City" - the first during Dickens' time in office - the mayor highlighted his office's plans to create public safety initiatives including better lighting for neighborhood streets and a dedicated official to monitor the city's nightlife businesses.

The mayor also focused on his plan to bring back the "Pothole Posse" aimed at fixing holes in the city's streets. Since then, the initiative has filled in over 10,000 potholes.