ATLANTA — On Wednesday, the Atlanta police chief unveiled the department's fall crime plan as they continue to address violent crime throughout the city.
Chief Rodney Bryant says that while the pandemic has made fighting crime more complicated, they seem to be finally making a dent. The chief added that he plans to keep that momentum going by ramping up their presence in Buckhead with a new precinct. The chief said it will address the exponential growth they're seeing in the area and expects it to be up and running by next year.
“We were able to identify that a certain of Buckhead, the population doubled in size every day, and most of our units were being tied up on addressing accidents and traffic incidents throughout the day. So what we decided to do is built up another precinct inside the zone 2 space, and it will be called the Westside village mini precinct," explained Chief Bryant.
The chief also added that the department will use some of its newest hires to help launch the Buckhead precinct. In May, APD said they were trying to hire 352 officers. As of Wednesday, they have hired 43 officers with the goal of hiring about five per week.
“We still have a long way to go as it relates to background and recruitment as well, but our attrition has stabilized," says Bryant.
He hopes the approval of a controversial public safety training center will help draw in more recruits. Bryant described the current facility as outdated with constant plumbing and structural issues. The new facility would be built at a former prison farm, but it is still pending a vote from the Atlanta City Council.
The chief also shared more details about the department's newest task force which he credits, in large part, for the reduction in violent crimes over the summer months. The Titan unit, launched this summer, aimed at curbing violent crime on the streets - works hand in hand with investigations and narcotics to target gang-ridden areas.
And the chief says the unit appears to be working, "at the beginning of the summer – our murder rate was up 59%. We’ve dropped that down to 47% since that time.”
Meanwhile, the department says they are still working around the clock to solve one of their most high-profile cases as of late regarding the brutal stabbing of Katie Jahness. It's now been over one month since she was killed at Piedmont Park, and there still have been no arrests made, but Bryant continues to say he doesn't believe there is any threat to the public.
“Am I concerned that we haven’t resolved it as quickly as we would like? Not yet, I’m not at the point of concern because I know the team continues to work diligently and the attention that’s on it," said Bryant.
Looking ahead, the chief says the department is turning their focus to an anniversary quickly approaching as concerns rise over a potential threat on the 20th anniversary of 911. Bryant says their department is working with the joint terrorism task force regularly to make sure both residents are visitors are safe in the city.
“This team gets an intelligence briefing as it relates to threats to our city every day, and so we will have several discussions as to what it relates to our stance will be going into the 911," added Bryant.