This week Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms announced she will not seek reelection.
This, while Atlanta’s crime rate remains high and a new report explored why members of the Atlanta Police Department (APD) have difficulties hiring and retaining employees.
Bottoms addressed the rampant crime issues at a press conference Thursday.
“It is abundantly clear to me today that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else,” Bottoms said as she announced she would not seek another term.
Bottoms said Atlanta’s surging crime rate “has so much to do with people emerging from this pandemic.”
“The last three years have not been at all what I would have scripted for our city,” Bottoms said.
“Three months into our term there was the biggest cyber-attack in the history of a municipality in America. A federal investigation that seemed to literally suck the air out of city hall and to the previous administration. There was last summer. There was a pandemic. There was a social justice movement. There was a madman in the White House.”
The most recent data available on the APD’s website reports crime statistics between the week of April 25 and May 1 of this year. The city had four reported murders, four reported rapes, 17 reported robberies, 52 reported aggravated assaults, 26 reported burglaries, 235 reported acts of larceny, and 61 reported auto thefts.
In a recent report Atlanta City Auditor Amanda Noble assessed the APD’s hiring practices.
Noble’s report said that between 2017 through September 2020 exactly 12,129 individuals applied for police officer positions. But police hired only 171 officers.
“Police’s recruitment process is rigorous and is designed to disqualify candidates who fail to meet the department’s hiring standards,” according to Noble’s report.
“We found that 92 percent of applicants who began completing the waiver packet failed to finish it.”
The rising crime rate has prompted residents of Buckhead to organize and study whether their upscale commercial and residential district should formally break off from the city. Members of this group, the Buckhead Exploratory Committee (BEOC), also said they are serious about wanting to leave.
Group spokesman Sam Lenaeus told The Georgia Star News last month that “even after paying a lot in taxes, we were still expected to solve our own problems and pour more private money into them.” Businesses and families, group members went on to say, are leaving.
“We learned that there are a lot of people wondering why we have not done this sooner. The stories we hear from some of our neighbors are terrifying: emergency services that don’t show up, elderly couples that are too afraid to go to the store, moms that are afraid to go to a gas station with their children in the car for fear of car-jacking, permits that take longer than six months to rebuild houses damaged by weather, and the list goes on. We heard from one couple that went to a park and came back to find out that both vehicles parked in separate areas of the park were stolen at the same time. The latest are carjackings on children’s carpool lines,” Lenaeus said.
“We also heard from many parents who were very unhappy with the leadership at the Atlanta Public Schools. We are hearing about serious mental health issues and a complete lack of support for children with special needs during the pandemic, all caused by APS leadership. We know the city can do better for our children and the hundreds of working parents out there.”
Bottoms said Thursday that she will spend the remainder of her term fighting crime and trying to make Atlanta safe.
Atlanta voters are scheduled to elect a new mayor in November.
– – –