What we’re watching in Atlanta City Council on Mon., May 10

ATLANTA — This week will be a busy one for City Council as members will attend regular committee meetings and discuss the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) budget in the City of Atlanta overview meetings. The Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee (PSLA) will meet on Mon., May 10, for the first of its two regular monthly meetings. Council members will discuss a new ordinance as well as several ordinances and resolutions up for a second reading. The City Council will review presentations from the Atlanta Police Department, the office of the Public Defender, and the City Solicitor.

Here are a few new things we are looking out for in Monday’s council meeting.

An ordinance by the PSLA for first reading to close out a 2017 grant from the Community Oriented Policing Services Office of the United States Department of Justice (“COPS”). The award, which totaled $1,875,000.00, could only be used to cover the salaries and benefits for newly hired officers specifically designated to the Path Force Unit, which patrols the Atlanta Beltline. The City of Atlanta committed an additional $1,191,656 according to the terms of the award; however, APD was unable to hire personnel for this unit. Thus, the award went unutilized and the three year term has expired. It is unclear at this time how the city funds will be reallocated.

Why we care about this: Policing of recreational areas does not appear to be an appealing job, and APD’s inability to recruit for this unit over a three-year period shows that this money could be utilized for purposes other than policing. 

Another ordinance by Amir Farokhi would create a new “violent conduct nuisance” code in the city code of ordinances. This ordinance will target properties deemed a “threat to public health, welfare and safety” that “contribute” to “violent crime”. 

Why we care about this: This ordinance will put the onus of reducing crime solely on the property owner. It will require the property owner to cover costs of “abating the nuisance.” The responsibility of preventing crime can include requiring the property owner to implement their own security measures and evict their own tenants. If the property sells alcohol, this ordinance could result in the assessment of fines, suspension, revocation, or denial of new applications and transfers of alcoholic beverage licenses.

A resolution by Joyce Sheperd would establish a Public Safety Commission for emergency and non-emergency functions ”to promote the safety, health, peace, and general welfare of the City”. The new commission would consist of 18 different groups of internal and external stakeholders. 

Why we care about this: This commission will create yet another bureaucratic loop for the city to claim as their answer to addressing issues that lead to and exacerbate crime.

A resolution by Michael Julian Bond, Marci Collier Overstreeet, and Andrea L. Boone would rehire retired Atlanta Police Officers to “enhance” safety at parks and recreation facilities. This resolution would offer the individual’s last held salary without benefits. 

Why we care about this: See above “COPS” grant. 

A resolution by the PSLA would authorize the mayor to accept a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to participate in a multi-jurisdictional DUI task force. The $200,000 award would go towards the salaries of two Atlanta Police Officers as well as maintaining two marked patrol vehicles. 

Why we care about this: This grant is in addition to other measures that tie the mayor’s office closer to the Atlanta Police Department, including a donation the City Council is currently processing that authorizes the mayor to accept a 2021 Dodge Charger donated by the Atlanta Police Foundation. Moreover, this appears to be another attempt to target street racing, which is an issue that’s received arguably excessive attention from city council since last summer.  

We will continue to report on these resolutions as they make their way through council.

Atlanta’s municipal elections, which includes all seats for city council and the mayor’s office, take place this November. The Georgia General Assembly elections take place in the fall of 2022. Stay tuned for more resources and coverage from us ahead of these elections. Subscribe to our newsletter here to stay connected.

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