ATLANTA — Five people vying to be the next mayor of Atlanta had a lot to say on a variety of topics at a community forum Wednesday night, but the one most people are concerned about is the rise in violent crime.
Former Mayor Kasim Reed, City Councilmen Antonio Brown and Andre Dickens, City Council President Felicia Moore and attorney Sharon Gay gathered together to talk about their plans for moving the city forward should they be elected.
While they addressed topics like transportation, affordable housing and greenspace, the topic at the front of most people’s minds was how the candidates plan to address crime in the city.
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Reed reiterated a plan he instituted when he was first elected mayor 12 years ago that involves putting more police on the street.
“In terms of resolving it, I believe we need to hire 500 to 750 additional officers. I believe we should transfer the human resources function for hiring officers out of city hall and into APD so they can hire faster,” the former mayor said.
Brown took a difference stance. He said the city needs to attack the root of the crime in order to curb it.
“If we’re going to address crime in this city, it’s not going to be based on how many officers we put on the streets of Atlanta. It’s going to be based on us addressing the root cause of generational poverty that is leading to the crime that we see in this city,” he said.
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Sharon Gay, an attorney and former mayoral executive counsel, said what worked in the past, may not work today.
“You can’t just do what we might have done four or eight years ago,” she said. “New problems require new strategies, smart strategies and smart solutions, but at the same time, we’ve got to have good policing.”
Moore, the Atlanta City Council President, promised to make the mayor’s office more responsive to police to help boost morale, and let them know the city supports them.
“I’m going to attend every roll call within the first 100 days of my office, and make sure that every officer that patrols our streets has a face to face with the mayor,” she said.
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Dickens believes the city and the police need to both take a deeper look at how they operate.
“We said, ‘Let’s look at all of the training. Let’s look at all of the procedures and the policies of our police force. Let’s make sure that we sit down with the chief of police, the COO and relook at how we do policing in the city of Atlanta,’” the city councilman said.
The mayoral election is scheduled for November 2.
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