ATLANTA — In his 30 year career as an Atlanta firefighter and his time as fire chief, Randall Slaughter said he’s never seen a crime spike with the longevity we’re seeing right now.
And, he thinks it’s critical for the entire community to pitch in and find solutions.
“I’m deeply troubled. I don’t believe it’s going to be a problem that we can just arrest ourselves out of. I think it’s going to take a whole community approach to dealing with the problem,” he said.
Handpicked by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to be on the anti-violence task force, Slaughter said he’s glad to continue serving the community but in a new capacity.
Slaughter said that while he can’t discuss the in-depth conversations from the task force’s first meetings, he left feeling encouraged.
“I think there are some brilliant minds in the group. I think there’s going to be lots of out-of-the-box thinking and I think there’s going to be a lot of creative thinking to problem-solving,” he said.
Slaughter hopes their strategies can bring down the crime numbers in Atlanta.
APD’s stats shows the number of shootings in the city have gone up each year since 2019.
From January 1 until May 9 in 2019, there were 175 shootings in Atlanta.
In that same timeframe in 2020, there were 184. In 2021, that number jumped to 255 shootings.
Slaughter said he’s more concerned with today’s crime because of how long this violent stretch has gone on.
“I don’t know if I can say I’ve seen a time when it has really impacted every quadrant of the city. I can remember parts of the city being impacted but not a crimewave impacting what seems like the entire city,” he said.
Slaughter said the task force members have experience in nonprofit, private sector, and government work, which can complement what APD is already doing to address the rise in crime.
“Sometimes it takes a set of fresh eyes and thought processes to develop different strategies,” said Slaughter.
The task force is expected to make recommendations in about a month.
Slaughter said that should include efforts to come up with ways to engage youth and steer them away from violence.