The successes realized during Mayor Kasim Reed’s two-term administration has been buttressed by a steady reduction in crime, according to the latest statistical data. Crime fell by three percent in 2015, and overall crime rates have fallen by 24 percent since the start of Mayor Reed’s first term.
Reed outlined new public safety initiatives for 2016, including his three priorities of addressing repeat offenders, launching the Westside Security Plan and expanding Operation Shield, all in partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF). While general city government expenditures have remained stable, more than 80 percent of increased spending was directed at the Atlanta Police Department (APD), the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) and the Department of Corrections (DOC).
“Public safety has always been my first priority, and the investments and tough choices we’ve made over the past six years have resulted in a safer, more prosperous city,” said Mayor Reed. “Despite a tough summer, crime fell by three percent in 2015, and is down 24 points total since I took office. The new initiatives we will launch this year in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Police Foundation will build on what we have achieved. Our residents and visitors can take comfort knowing we are working to keep them safe.”
Previous studies have shown that a small group of 461 repeat offenders were responsible for more than 10,000 crimes committed within the City of Atlanta, with fewer than four percent of those individuals receiving prison sentences. Through the combined efforts of the Repeat Offender Commission, recent data shows that approximately 55 percent of repeat offenders are now being sent to prison, preventing them from immediately committing additional crimes.
Mayor Reed also shared details of the Westside Security Plan, which is a collaborative effort between the APF and APD’s Westside initiative to plan. This plan consists of four primary components, including plans to build a new Westside Youth Development Center; a partnership with Pulte Homes and other home builders to build up to 25 new homes for APD officers to live in the communities they serve; establishing a Westside Security Patrol to increase police visibility in the community; and deploying more than 100 cameras and license plate readers to help deter and solve crimes. Funding and a location for the center have been secured, providing a comprehensive support structure and resources for young people and their families.
Mayor Reed provided important updates on the progress of Operation Shield, the city’s state of the art security camera network. Along with the Atlanta City Council, Mayor Reed set a five-year goal of integrating 10,000 cameras into the Video Integration Center. The City is ahead of schedule and has integrated more than 5,900 cameras into the network to date.
“The recent tragedies in San Bernardino, CA and Paris, France have changed how mayors across the country approach public safety in their cities,” added Mayor Reed. “APD is now providing active shooter response trainings to the public, and with our partners in the Atlanta Police Foundation, we are testing technology designed to alert our first responders as quickly as possible if any major incident happened in our schools or major employment centers. The City of Atlanta and our partners in the private sector are all working every day to keep Atlanta a safe city for all its residents.”
The AFRD has also worked to enhance emergency response times. The Department responded to 101,255 calls for assistance in 2015, an all-time high. More than 8,000 of these calls were for assistance at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Additionally, AFRD achieved the total response time benchmark of eight minutes and 12 seconds for fire calls at a rate of 93 percent in the last quarter of 2015. In the same quarter, AFRD met its total response time of seven minutes and 59 seconds for EMS calls at an 80 percent rate.
The DOC has continued to support citywide efforts to address vacant and blighted properties. DOC’s Clean and Close program cleaned up and then closed 216 properties, saving the City of Atlanta $2 million since the program’s launch.