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Crime in Atlanta | What the mayor, police chief say they're doing to combat it

The city's mayor and police chief gave an update on crime in the city, and what they're doing to fight it.

ATLANTA — Atlanta has seen more than 30 homicides since the start of the year, now city leaders are talking about their strategy to tackle this statistic.

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Andre Dickens and Police Chief Rodney Bryant met to update the public on the city's crime-fighting efforts.

Both Dickens and Bryant insisted repeat offenders are a challenge in the Atlanta area — and the statistics prove it. According to crime data Bryant presented, around 70% of crime in the city is tied to repeat offenders. He continued, saying officers arrested more than 20 people just last week that had three or more previous felonies.

"These offenders had a total of 553 previous arrests, 114 of those being felonies. These are the challenges the police department faces, as well as the citizens who are victimized by these individuals," he said.

Three of those offenders, Bryant said, were released on bond before a police report was written. He said officers are trying to target these offenders more aggressively by streamlining the investigation process with a Repeat Offender Unit.

Adding to the pressure, the city is starting a new program that will allow citizens to watch court cases, Dickens said. So judges know people who live in the city are invested, too. 

Both men called one issue "a plague" to the metro area — street racing. Dickens said the crime is damaging infrastructure, referencing back-to-back vandalism to Midtown Atlanta's rainbow crosswalk.

Since the incident, the city has placed metal plates on the corners of the intersection to deter vandals from doing donuts, or racing, on the roadway. But Dickens said these installations are only a "temporary remedy" to the problem, and police are still working with Georgia State Patrol to fight it.

"We have a $1,000 fine for individuals that commit it," he said. "We also put cameras on that corner and license plate readers."

RELATED: Atlanta Police identify vandals in damage of iconic Midtown rainbow crosswalks

Just steps away from that intersection, there's another place the city is working to add more surveillance — in Piedmont Park, where Katie Janness and her dog were found brutally murdered last year. Though there are no updates police can share with the public, Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said they're currently relying on forensic evidence to try and crack the case. 

In efforts to ensure park safety, Bryant said APD will increase patrols inside Atlanta parks, and they're working with the mayor's office to bring in more reserve offices. He also said the police department also wants to recruit more retired law enforcement back into public safety to work city parks and the BeltLine. This comes just days after police arrested a man accused of killing another man along a popular section of the walkway last month.

RELATED: Atlanta Police release new surveillance video of 3 persons of interest in connection to man found dead near BeltLine

Dickens said gang violence and youth offenders are other ongoing issues in the area. Bryant believes adding more staff to the gang task force will aid in alleviating the toll gangs take on the community.

In an effort to keep kids off the streets, the city wants to engage young people by starting midnight basketball all over the city and hosting job fairs that offer paid internships. Dickens did not offer a timeline for these initiatives.


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