ATLANTA — (editor's note: The video above features comments by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on crime from a press conference earlier this week.)
Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore issued a statement on Thursday outlining her recommendations for curbing crime in the city.
The issue has returned to the forefront in the city this week, after the death last weekend of a 7-year-old girl, Kennedy Maxie, who had been struck days before by a stray bullet as she rode in her aunt's car past Phipps Plaza.
Violent crime has surged this year in Atlanta, as it has in other major cities during the pandemic. Homicides are up 48 percent over last year, so far. Aggravated assaults are also up 14 percent.
“The year 2020 is coming to an end; however, efforts to address its outcomes are far from over. The City of Atlanta has witnessed crime at heights unseen in almost 22 years and we must reverse this dynamic immediately," Council President Moore said in a statement. "From the beginning of this term, I have promoted the concept of collaboration along with the free exchange of ideas and suggestions. While I wish the circumstances that brought us here were different, I am eager to collaboratively attack the issue of crime in our city – exceeding the vigor with which crime has attacked us."
Moore emphasized three suggestions she believes could make a difference in her statement, saying a the city must start a search for a permanent police chief, better retain talent and resolve current disciplinary issues, and resume municipal and county court operations.
Rodney Bryant has served as the interim police chief of the APD since the resignation of former Chief Erika Shields over the summer, after the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said she is comfortable with him in the role for now, and has suggested he may assume the permanent position at some point. She has also said current conditions make it difficult to do a nationwide search for a police chief, with many other large municipal departments in search of a chief after similar firings this year spurred by protests.
Council President Moore, however, said "the existing market conditions and political climate are factors we cannot ignore; nor, can we allow them to impede this process."
"It is time to identify the leader who will carry the city’s primary law enforcement agency into the next era of world-class community-oriented policing," she said.
As for resuming normal court operations, Moore said "while it is understood that court operations will be modified to ensure employee/citizen safety during the pandemic, it is vital that we maintain synergies between the work of law enforcement and the court system as a deterrent to violent crime."