Atlanta to open 2 new youth centers to help cut down on juvenile crime

ATLANTA — A local police program aimed at lowering juvenile crimes will be expanding in Atlanta after seeing success in its first year.

Channel 2 Action News was at the Atlanta Police Foundation's "Crime is Toast" breakfast as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced two new locations of the At-Promise Youth and Community Center.

"We cannot arrest our way out of juvenile crimes," Bottoms said Tuesday at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Instead of looking at younger people as "at risk," Atlanta police are leading with hope for brighter futures with the program.

“I never had a real father figure in my life. But then they introduced me to Officer Moore. He showed me a lot,” said Javarius Middlebrooks, who participates in the program.

The first At-Promise center opened last year and works with people aged 12 to 24 who are mostly referred to the program by the courts or schools.

"It helped me develop an awareness that they are there to help us. They're not trying to hurt us. They're not all bad," Simpson told Channel 2.

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Leaders said they have proof that the program is working as repeat offender rates are down to 2 percent.

The second At-Promise center is being added in south Atlanta with a third location off Campbellton Road in the works for 2019.

"We're having officers live in the area. We're really just changing the trajectory of crime that's been plaguing the areas for so long," Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields told Channel 2. 

The "Crime is Toast" breakfast also celebrated the accomplishments of Atlanta police officers, including five who rescued two men from a burning car earlier this year.

Former Channel 2 Action News anchor Monica Pearson announced Officer Robert Winkler, who was shot by a man on Facebook Live saying he wanted to kill officers, as "Officer of the Year."