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Column: Atlanta Police Foundation launching $8.1 million campaign

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, November 23, 2012

The Atlanta Police Foundation is launching an $8.1 million, three-year campaign to continue improving public safety in the city.

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has made the lead $1 million gift to that campaign. “The Woodruff Foundation has been our biggest supporter,” said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

The foundation was started in 2003 as a way to bolster the city of Atlanta’s public safety efforts.

At the time, the city had 1,756 authorized positions for police officers, but only 1,433 were filled.

The foundation then focused its efforts on recruitment, retention and reducing the attrition of police officers so that the city would have a police force of 2,000 officers.

“We are there,” Wilkinson said. “We will have 2,000 officers by the end of 2012.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed mentioned that landmark at a talk Nov. 20 at the Commerce Club.

“We will achieve a goal of having a police force of more than 2,000 police officers — something we have talked about for more than 10 or 15 years,” Reed said.

After his talk, Reed credited the Police Foundation for much of the progress.

“They are an essential partner,” Reed said. “They really help drive excellence. The revolving door has been significantly reduced, and the reduction of our officer attrition rate has largely been guided by them.”

The past three years, the Atlanta Police Foundation had a $7 million campaign called Public Safety First. It ended up raising $8.4 million toward that goal.

The new campaign — Public Safety: Next Generation — has identified several areas where Atlanta can become a “model city” for public safety. Jim Hannan, CEO of Georgia-Pacific, is chairing the campaign; and John McColl, an executive with Cousins Properties, chairs the foundation.

“Where we separate ourselves from most police foundations across the country is that most foundations raise money to buy equipment,” Wilkinson said. “If we are going to make the Atlanta Police Foundation unique, we need a strategic, tactically driven organization for the city.”

The cornerstones of the new campaign will be leadership,
technology and innovation. The foundation will continue providing scholarships so APD officers can continue their education. Of the 400 officers that have received scholarships, 99 percent have remained on the force.

Another goal is to have more police officers living in the city. The past campaign helped officers move into 130 homes in the city. The foundation also plans to establish the Atlanta Police Leadership Institute, a formal academy that will help put officers on a career track for leadership within the police force.

The foundation also wants Atlanta to be on the leading edge of the “paradigm shift” that’s under way. Integrated predictive policing, also known as smart policy, seeks to create a “technology, data-driven approach to predicting where the next crime will take place,” Wilkinson said.

The city already has created the Video Integration Center, where it is taking all the public safety cameras and integrating them with private-sector cameras. Currently there are 700 cameras. Wilkinson said the goal will be to have 1,000 by the Final Four in March, and 2,000 by the end of next year.

These programs appear to be working.

“Since APF was formed, there has been more than a 40 percent reduction in crime in the city of Atlanta,” Wilkinson said. “Nationally it’s been down 20 percent. These are our safest crime statistics since 1969.”

Transition at North Highland

The North Highland consulting firm has elected Michael W. Trapp as its next non-executive chairman, succeeding Dave Peterson, who co-founded the company in 1992 and has been a longtime leader in the community.

“We thank Dave for 21 years of service, seeing North Highland grow from an Atlanta startup to a worldwide consultancy of more than 2,500 employees,” said Dan Reardon, CEO of North Highland and Highland Worldwide. “His vision for North Highland was to create a different kind of consultancy, where employees felt ownership not only over their career, but their personal life as well. This culture, so rare in our industry, is what has allowed North Highland to flourish in today’s marketplace.”

Peterson will continue to serve on the company’s board. “It’s amazing to see how far North Highland has come in the last 20 years, and I am excited to see where the next 20 will lead,” Peterson said. Trapp has served on North Highland’s board for more than 11 years.

Distinguished professors

At an awards ceremony Nov. 10, the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust honored 22 professors from universities around the United States by giving away $550,000 for inspiring their students to make a significant contribution to society.

Each professor received a one-time $25,000 cash award for their contributions.

The Trust was founded in 2008 under the will of Gail McKnight Beckman in honor of her mother, Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman. Dr. Beckman was an educator, a renowned author and a pioneer in psychology. She was one of the first female psychology professors at Columbia University and later taught at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Trust is managed by Wells Fargo’s Philanthropic Services Group.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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