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Why 2020's spike in homicides concerns Atlanta Police leaders

There have already been more homicides in 2020 than in all of 2019.

ATLANTA — A father of two. An 8-year-old girl. A beloved actor. All victims of homicide in the City of Atlanta this year.

Atlanta Police say they know there has been a spike in the homicide rate in the city - and they're worried about it. Assistant Chief Todd Coyt said they're actively trying to bring that number down. 

"One is too many. Our goal is to have zero homicides. So of course any increase, we feel like it's too many. We are not happy with it. We are not happy with it at all," he said. 

There have been 116 homicides within city limits this year. In all of 2019, there were 99.

Coyt said the violent crime isn't just happening in one area of the city. 

"It will spike up in one part of the city, but we will address that and then it will spike up in a different part of the city. It's like playing whack a mole. We make plans to address those issues and as soon as it goes down, it pops back up in a different part of the city," said Chief Coyt. 

While violent crime initially slowed down across the country during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it spiked in the summer months, with cases like  8-year-old Secoriea Turner who was killed outside of a liquor store on July 4.

In more recent weeks victims include popular actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd who was killed just outside his home and Muhammad Abdus-Salaam who a father and community activist gunned down getting groceries.

But Chief Coyt said the violence isn't just within the city. 

"We notice that it's not just Atlanta that it's happening in, it's happening in Metro Atlanta. So we've partnered with a lot of our neighboring jurisdictions to go after the people committing these crimes," he said. 

Police did make an arrest in the murder of Thomas Jefferson Byrd last week and Chief Coyt said APD Officers are working around the clock to bring justice to the families of all murder victims in the city. 

"I want the citizens of Atlanta to know that they still have a hardworking police force, we are still dedicated to protecting them,," he said. 

The department has had a number of officers leave over the past few months, but Chief Coyt said they're actively recruiting new officers every day.