Members of the Atlanta city council proposed spending $1.6 million to hire a private security force specifically to protect the affluent Buckhead neighborhood amid a rise in gun violence, despite calls to “defund” the Atlanta police department.
The Independent reports that, following a shooting near a Buckhead mall that left a 7-year-old girl dead, Atlanta city leaders have been looking for a way to handle the city’s growing gun violence problem and, despite calling to defund the police earlier in the year, now want to splash out on a private security force to protect the city’s wealthier residents.
The city council has a full plan specifically for Buckhead, per a “Buckhead Security Plan” slide deck made available on Monday. Objectives of the plan include, “Funding and establishing a supplementary, multi-car dedicated security patrol utilizing off-duty sworn officers of APD, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and Georgia State Patrol. The supplementary patrol will be for exclusive use within Buckhead commercial corridors and will be managed by the Zone 2 Commander at APD to augment on-duty APD patrol (NT).”
The police force is designed to work “in tandem” with existing law enforcement bureaus, and the city council is committing $125,000 to the effort initially. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts the final cost of the program, however, at a cool $1.6 million.
“The private police are scheduled to start patrols in January,” the Independent notes.
Crime in Atlanta has been on an upward trend since May, as it has in most major cities. There have been more than 155 homicides in the city, “the most since 1998,” according to the outlet.
Atlanta’s authorities, as The Daily Wire reported earlier this week, have been slow to accept responsibility for the surge. Atlanta’s police chief, Tuesday, blamed the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdowns for spurring the city’s residents to engage in criminal behavior.
“There are no other areas to socialize, people find themselves – there’s no football games to go to, there’s no high school football games to go to,” he said, suggesting that the only other alternative was to participate in violence.
Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was once a front-runner to become Joe Biden’s Vice President, seemed completely at a loss.
“We owe it to our children, as well as to all of our communities, to do everything in our power to eliminate gun violence,” she said. “If there are solutions that we have not explored and enacted, I welcome the suggestions.”
Atlanta’s city council voted against “defunding the police,” per local media, but Bottoms noted, over the summer, that city authorities could soon begin the process of rerouting funds destined for law enforcement initiatives to other community-focused efforts. Her statements appear to have been directly responsible for a major decline in the police department’s overall morale and an associated “sick-out” that saw some officers walk off the job over the city’s decision to charge officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms later addressed officers directly, begging them to return to work.