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Buckhead Public Safety Task Force issues final report of suggestions and info

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, in the highlighted box, speaks during a March 24 virtual meeting of the Buckhead Public Safety Task Force.

By John Ruch

The Buckhead Public Safety Task Force has issued its final report after months of meetings. Its recommendations contain no surprises but recap the richly detailed information presented by officials from much of Atlanta’s criminal justice system.

That included input from the courts and prosecutors, who are heard from less frequently in a time when policing is a driver of major political controversies about crime prevention, from the Atlanta public safety training center plan to the Buckhead cityhood movement. The task force report’s concluding point is that the group not only convened dedicated people, “but more importantly, became an initiative that presented crime as much more than a ‘police issue,’ which should stand as a model that can be utilized anywhere.”

The task force was established early this year by District 8 City Councilmember Mary Norwood in response to crime concerns. From February to April, it held six virtual meetings with presentations from various officials and experts from law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, private programs and businesses. They offered a wealth of information, much of it focused on criminal gangs and a crackdown-oriented approach to crime, as well as individual agencies’ political agendas and data gaps. The task force and its slate of presenters did not include any independent criminologists.

The task force report, issued May 27, includes a list of recommendations. Most of them broadly reflect support for the agendas of the presenters at the meetings, such as increasing police staffing, boosting a program of citizen observation of judges, and expanding the use of the gang-prosecution technology Formulytics. The report also contains a plan promoted by Norwood to expand surveillance camera networks and private security patrols staffed by off-duty police officers. That in turn plays off of 2020’s “Buckhead Security Plan” created by several private groups in coordination with the police and other organizations.

Click here for the full task force report.


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