ATLANTA — The chiefs of the Atlanta Police and fire departments are speaking out Thursday about the need for the future public safety training center.
It comes after a group of protesters against the development said they are frustrated over efforts to get the measure on the November Ballot.
More than 116,000 signatures were collected for a referendum to put the construction of the training center up for a public vote.
Atlanta city officials said the petition was turned in weeks after the deadline. Now, opponents are accusing the city of using voter suppression tactics.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said fighting the construction could be harmful to metro Atlanta communities.
"We are a large metropolitan city that hosts events that you do not see anywhere else in the state of Georgia. We have to have a police department that matches that reputation of those iconic events," Schierbaum said. "So, my concern is that the mere suggestion that this isn't needed and the suggestion that it's going to be taken away from our officers that's been promised. It's going to impact morale and it's going to impact how we patrol every neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia."
Schierbaum and Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith said they were promised training facilities when they were recruited to the departments more than 20 years ago -- and this is a long time coming.
"Yes, we definitely need to train. Having the best facilities helps us continue the education. You just can't become... a firefighter or police officer unless it is continuing to learn," Roderick added. "Thirty years I've been working. Every day is a learning day. You cannot take anything for granted and you can't get complacent because complacency gets you hurt in this line of work. So definitely it's needed."
You can watch Schierbaum and Smith's full interview below.