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Atlanta’s rates of shootings and victims drop, but murder rates continue to rise

By David Pendered

The rate of shooting incidents and shooting victims in the City of Atlanta has declined in the last four weeks as policing efforts have yielded results, according to Atlanta’s Assistant Police Chief Todd Coyt.

atlanta police, class 270, june 30, 2021

Atlanta’s police department conducted a swearing-in ceremony June 30 for 14 new officers. who received their guns and badges and were to complete a six-week program with an experienced officer to complete their field training. Credit: APD

“Our officers are giving 110% every day out there, every day they’re working their butts off,” Coyt said Monday in a presentation to the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Coyt’s presentation portrayed officers on the street working hard to protect and serve. Positive signs include:

  • The number of street-racing incidents has reached a 13-month low, dropping from 566 in October 2020 to 109 in July. APD has collaborated with Fulton and DeKalb counties sheriff’s department to curb racing;
  • Nuisance properties that can serve as hotspots for crime are being brought into compliance or closed. One example on West Peachtree Street was Brklyn Kitchen & Lounge, which Coyt said was closed after APD helped arrange for its certificate of occupancy to be revoked following ongoing violations.

“Resources are down, the number of officers is down,” Coyt said. “Still, our officers are still giving an outstanding effort, with pro-activeness and the people they arrest.”

atlanta police training academy

Three women were in the class of 14 graduates of the Atlanta Police Academy, Class 270, which was sworn into duty on June 30. Credit: APD

Members of the Public Safety Committee gave no sign of celebration at the positive signs. Coyt’s presentation was delivered against a backdrop of two incidents that claimed attention:

  • The Aug. 5 disappearance of Caitlin Winchester, a 14-year-old North Atlanta High School student last seen walking near the school. Wednesday morning, Atlanta schools tweeted that Winchester was found safe in Texas and that the family requested privacy. Arlington, Tx. police have charged Andre McNair on a single charge of harboring a child, a Tarrant County jail record McNair was in custody in lieu of a $5,000 bond.
  • The July 28 stabbing deaths of Katherine Janness and her companion animal at a 10th Street entrance into Piedmont Park. The case remains under investigation.

In addition, the overall crime report underscores the reasons crime remains top-of-mind among many Atlanta residents, and top-of-agenda for candidates vying to succeed Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

APD’s Facebook page pays respects to a Chicago officer shot dead on Aug. 7 during a traffic stop, Officer Ella French. Credit: APD

On Monday, Coyt presented data from APD’s online crime report for the week ending July 31. On Wednesday, the report was available for the weekend ending Aug. 7 and it showed:

The rate of shootings is down, but may be more deadly than last year and in 2019:

  • While the rate of shootings in the 28-day category has dropped by 24%, from 76 to 58 incidents, the murder rate in the four-week period has increased by 36%, from 11 to 15. A major caveat here is the murder category does not specify the cause of death, meaning by gun or other means.
  • The murder rate in Atlanta year-to-date is 58% higher than in 2019, the report shows.

Domestic violence rates have increased dramatically:

  • The 28-day rate is up 20%, from 50 to 60;
  • The year-to-date rate compared to 2020 is up 55%, from 253 to 392;
  • The year-to-date rate compared to 2019 is up 110% from 187 to 392.

Rape is up, compared to 2020, and down compared to 2019:

Atlanta police officers provided public safety during the Peachtree Road Race. Credit: APD

  • The 28-day rate is down 8%, from 12 to 11;
  • The year-to-date rate compared to 2020 is up 60%, from 63 to 101;
  • The year-to-date rate compared to 2019 is down 25% from 134 to 101.

In response to a question from Councilmember Dustin Hillis, Coyt said he had no explanation for the increase in rapes other than that a significant number of victims reported knowing their assailant.

“A large percent of rapes are acquaintances,” Coyt said. “We try to educate the public as often as we can. There’s no set trend to identify why it is happening. It is a disturbing trend. But we have not been able to find a commonality other than they are acquaintances.”

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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