Opinion article: Recent events at Emory highlight need for Atlanta public safety training center | Notice

Recent events at Emory University have put the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center (APSTC) back in the spotlight after pro-Palestinian protesters on campus took the opportunity to reiterate their opposition to the facility, nicknamed derogatorily “CopCity.” Comically, their protest advocated for the presence of well-trained and highly qualified police officers, which is exactly what the APSTC would promote.

Although there were few to no major problems with the way the Atlanta police handled the situation – after all, the protesters illegally set up an encampment on campus and resisted arrest, leaving police officers with no choice but to use force – this is certainly not the case. It is difficult for agents to have the best possible training. And much to the dismay of protesters, most Atlantans support the construction of the facility.

A recent state of Kennesaw investigation of metro Atlanta found that crime was the top concern among respondents, including among Black and Hispanic participants. This is an important result because national polls have shown for some time that inflation is the top concern of respondents. Clearly, many Atlantans don’t feel safe, and that’s understandable.

According to the FBI’s most recent crime statistics, violent crimes reported by the Atlanta Police Department have increased 37% since the pandemic. Homicides have increased by 140% since 2019 and aggravated assaults have increased by 55%. Although there has been some decrease in crime year-over-year in 2023, violent crime in Atlanta remains well above pre-pandemic levels. In fact, Atlanta was one of the few cities to see a year-over-year increase. increase in murders from April 2023 to April 2024.

Fortunately, help is on the way, as the APSTC is on track to be completed by the end of the year. The best way to fight crime and protect citizens from police excesses is through rigorous training, to include modern practices in harm reduction and community engagement, which is exactly what the APSTC will aim to do. The facility will also be used to train other essential officials such as civilian responders, emergency medical services, firefighters and 911 operators.

In response to the prudent decision to build this training center to better train police officers who risk their lives every day to protect their community, radical progressive activists strongly, and in many cases violently, opposed the construction of the establishment. The so-called “Stop Cop City” movement is responsible for at least 23 arsons that destroyed or damaged 81 items involved in the construction of the facility. The destruction and work stoppages caused by these incidents increased the cost of the project by nearly $20 million.

But the most serious threat to the training center is not the physical danger posed by anti-police activists. The greatest danger to the future of policing in Atlanta is ballot measure this could completely kill the installation. A group called “Vote to Stop Cop City” launched an effort to repeal an ordinance approved by the Atlanta City Council that leases land from the Atlanta Police Foundation to be used to build the center Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. Even though the completion of the work is scheduled for the end of 2024, these activists are moving forward.

While Atlanta’s Stop Cop City referendum has faced significant legal challenges, organizers are still trying to oppose the initiative, as evidenced by the protest at Emory. If they are somehow successful in getting this measure on the ballot, Atlantans must categorically and overwhelmingly reject this effort, not only to ensure that Atlanta police are properly trained , but also to show that violence and anarchy are not acceptable forms of political action.

Additionally, local public officials should continue to express support for the facility and educate the public about its benefits. This is why our America is organize its rank-and-file members to attend the public meeting at the Atlanta City Council on May 20 to urge local officials to persist in their support of the facility.

Police training is a profitable investment, both for police officers and citizens. Ultimately, Atlantans should finish the job by defeating the Stop Cop City movement at the ballot box once and for all.

Gabriel Nadales is the national director of Our America