In a media briefing this morning, Mayor Kasim Reed outlined new public safety initiatives for 2016, including his three priorities of launching the Westside Security Plan, expanding Operation Shield and addressing repeat offenders.
“Public safety has always been my first priority, and the investments and tough choices we’ve made over the past six years have resulted in a safer, more prosperous city,” Reed said. “Despite a tough summer, crime fell by three percent in 2015, and is down 24 points total since I took office. The new initiatives we will launch this year in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Police Foundation will build on what we have achieved. Our residents and visitors can take comfort knowing we are working to keep them safe.”
Previous studies have shown that a small group of 461 repeat offenders were responsible for more than 10,000 crimes committed within the City of Atlanta, with fewer than four percent of those individuals receiving prison sentences. Through the combined efforts of the Repeat Offender Commission, recent data shows that approximately 55 percent of repeat offenders are now being sent to prison, preventing them from immediately committing additional crimes.
The Westside Security Plan, a collaborative effort between the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) and Atlanta Police Department (APD), consists of four primary components, including plans to build a new Westside Youth Development Center; a partnership with Pulte Homes and other home builders to build up to 25 new homes for APD officers to live in the communities they serve; establishing a Westside Security Patrol to increase police visibility in the community; and deploying more than 100 cameras and license plate readers to help deter and solve crimes. Reed said funding and a location for the center have been secured.
Reed also updated the progress of Operation Shield, the city’s state of the art security camera network. Along with the Atlanta City Council, Reed set a five-year goal of integrating 10,000 cameras into the Video Integration Center. The city is ahead of schedule and has integrated more than 5,900 cameras into the network to date.
The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) has also worked to enhance emergency response times. The department responded to 101,255 calls for assistance in 2015, an all-time high. More than 8,000 of these calls were for assistance at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Additionally, AFRD achieved the total response time benchmark of eight minutes and 12 seconds for fire calls at a rate of 93 percent in the last quarter of 2015. In the same quarter, AFRD met its total response time of seven minutes and 59 seconds for EMS calls at an 80 percent rate.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) has continued to support citywide efforts to address vacant and blighted properties. DOC’s Clean and Close program cleaned up and then closed 216 properties, saving the City of Atlanta $2 million since the program’s launch.