How bad is crime and violence in Atlanta? Bad. It’s so bad, in fact, that Georgia House Speaker David Ralston is creating a special study committee to determine just how bad it is and, more importantly, what the state can do to reverse the trend.
The Blue Ridge Republican is concerned that the problem has gotten out of hand. “Atlanta has a crime problem, and it doesn’t seem to be able to bring it under control,” he recently told reporters. “Sadly, the facts paint a chilling reality. Not only is crime on the rise in every corner of this city, but we are losing the fight against crime.”
Crime stats indicate as much. In 2020, the Atlanta Police Department responded to 154 homicides. That’s quite a jump when considering the number recorded annually just a decade ago hovered around 90.
Aggravated assaults also rose, and the incidence of attacks on people, including incidents where someone was shot or stabbed and survived, continued to climb in the opening months of 2021. To Speaker Ralston, Georgia’s largest and fastest growing economic center is in distress and in need of some assistance.
Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee Chairman J. Collins, R-Villa Rica, will head up the special committee. Other members have yet to be publicly disclosed.
Speaker Ralston is unsure at this early stage what the state might be able to do or offer if the study determines additional help is required to bring the crime rate down. One possible solution might be to beef up the presence of Georgia State Patrol officers, assign them to specific city beats.
GSP personnel might very well find themselves augmenting Atlanta’s police force in the not-too-distant future.
If that’s the case, the General Assembly should be prepared to expand the state police force to ensure patrolling the interstates and major highways remain the primary responsibility of GSP. And while it’s at it, the legislature should ascertain whether an adjustment in training would be necessary to properly prepare GSP’s men and women for the different settings and crimes they would be exposed to if ordered to patrol Atlanta’s streets.