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Thought Leadership Views From Peachtree

Looking Back and Looking Forward

By Jim Durrett, President of Buckhead Coalition and Executive Director of Buckhead Community Improvement District

I want to dwell briefly on what has been a horrible year by almost any measure, but with a few bright spots from my perspective, both personally and professionally. But I also want to describe what we have to look forward to in 2021, because that is where we find hope. 

Because of COVID-19 our criminal justice system in Atlanta went essentially dormant, with courts closing and jails operating at reduced capacity. Our police in Zone 2 did what they could, but too many people acting with impunity and disregard for others, due in very large part to the criminal justice system’s COVID-induced failures, has torn our social fabric. The Buckhead Coalition, the Atlanta Police Foundation, members of Atlanta’s City Council, and others from the public and private sectors, have stepped up to create and fund the Buckhead Security Plan, designed to augment what the police are able to do with their resources. We shouldn’t have to do this, but unprecedented conditions demanded it.

Because of COVID-19 the staff of The Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Community Improvement District have wisely chosen to work mostly from home. At the exact time when both organizations determined to associate closely and collaborate for the very first time, we could not be face to face, making integration and familiarization difficult. But I am pleased that we are in the position we find ourselves despite the difficulty.

Because of COVID-19 I had to postpone surgery to kill a cancerous prostate, but eventually the fine doctors at Emory were able to do their remarkable work and prospects look bright. Because of COVID-19 my wife was unable to find a dog suitable for adoption that met her standards, but eventually she got a new puppy, who happens to be sleeping on the couch next to me as I write this. And she doesn’t shed and is a real cutie. I hope that you found silver linings, too.

Looking forward to 2021, my expectations are that we will eventually get this insidious virus under control and our criminal justice system will begin to work as it was intended. Our Buckhead Security Plan will be fully implemented and we will see a marked decrease in the brazen, lawless behavior that has plagued our community. This will require, however, that more people take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and that everybody get vaccinated. 

My hope is that we can bridge the vicious political divide that has plagued us so that the common good can be easily recognizable by all. I also hope that the good people of Buckhead will meet our difficulties with a steely resolve to work together and not accept our recent experiences as the new normal. My expectation is that they will. I can tell you that the organizations I have the privilege to lead will be relentless in our efforts to improve the conditions and the quality of life in Buckhead.

 

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