By Maria Saporta
Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was pleased that news outlets reported the facts about how violent crime has decreased in the city.
But she felt that stories “missed the significant role of public engagement in learning and exercising safety tips” as ways to combat violent crime. She also said the lower violent crime stats were a result of “increased investment in professional training of Atlanta’s police officers from top to bottom.”
Franklin mentioned several other reasons. The city’s 24 Neighborhood Planning Units and community groups have participated in Court Watch, neighborhood safety training and the Citizens Police Academy.
Neighborhoods also have hired off-duty officers for residential security patrols; they have improved home and business security systems while the city has embarked in an active public awareness campaign.
“Good police work, community engagement and the professionalism of the Atlanta Police Department have all played a BIG part in creating a safe community,” Franklin wrote me in an email.
The news of a decline in violent crime rates is a vindication of sorts for Franklin. During the recent mayoral campaign, crime was the No. 1 issue with candidates, who painted the impression that Atlanta was a dangerous city.
But Franklin didn’t stop there.
“Now we need better gun laws in Georgia,” Franklin wrote. “A 13-year-old learns to hunt with his father without gun safety training, and there is no public outcry. Most responsible parents teach child safety when they teach their children to swim or to ride a bike. Why not when they are teaching them to shoot a gun?”
Franklin was referring to a shooting incident that involved the 13-year-old son of Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. Oxendine’s son wounded a 59-year-old man on Sunday, Jan. 17 during a hunt on a wildlife preserve in North Georgia.
To reinforce her point, Franklin included a link to a Chicago Sun Times blog “regarding Chicago’s gun laws and a statement from Mayor Richard Daley.”
It’s been three weeks since Franklin completed her two terms as Atlanta’s mayor. But the good news is that she hasn’t gone anywhere. She still cares enough to share her thoughts on our city and our state.