New police chief sets out plans to combat Atlanta’s crime in exclusive interview with Channel 2

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Tuesday that she is naming interim police chief Rodney Bryant as permanent chief for the department. She made the announcement while addressing the surge in violent crime in the city.

The move comes just days after the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl.

Chief Rodney Bryant has spent the last year serving as the interim police chief for the department. Now, in an exclusive interview, he’s giving Channel 2′s Michael Seiden a look at what he plans to do to combat the rising crime.

“What is going on with the city right now with crime, and what are you going to do as chief to curb all this violence, especially among the youth?” Seiden asked Bryant.

“One of the things we are really working on is our outreach,” Bryant said. “Because of COVID, so many resources that would generally be available, so many outlets, so many places that children would generally be just aren’t existing.”

Bryant told Seiden that he is deeply troubled by the surge in gun violence. His comments follow one of the bloodiest weekends of the year with 12 reported shootings, including the killing of 15-year-old Diamond Johnson.

“What we saw this week were clearly people just lacking conflict resolution. We have to be able to resolve our conflicts differently and the proliferation of weaponry that we’re seeing in our city,” Bryant said. “But I truly believe with the strategies we have in place, we will see those numbers come down.”

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So far, in the first four months of 2021, APD has investigated 44 homicides, a 60% increase from this time in 2020.

“This is not just a police issue. This is a community issue that we all have to be involved in,” Bryant said.

Bryant said APD is implementing new outreach programs that he believes will help bridge the gap between the police and the communities they serve.

“If they have information on an incident, on a crime, they need to pass that information on to us,” Bryant said. “Having conversations with them on what they would like to see from us, as well as it relates to crime-fighting in their neighborhood.”

Bryant is also passionate about Operation Phoenix, a partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies, like the FBI and ATF, that targets some of metro Atlanta’s most dangerous criminals.

“I think with Operation Phoenix, that will give us the ability to intercede and intervene, as it relates to the number of guns that we’re saying, and try to cut that down,” Bryant said.

The 31-year APD veteran came out of retirement last summer, taking over as interim chief in the middle of the pandemic, during the height of the fight against racial injustice and calls for police reform following the deaths of George Floyd, Breana Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.

“You, potentially in the next year, could have a number of officers standing trial. Why would you want to take this job, especially when we see what’s going on with the relationship between police and the communities that they serve?” Seiden asked Bryant.

“Listen, I love this city. I truly believe in this police department. And I know that the men and women that serve are very committed to what they’re doing,” Bryant said.

Bryant still faces a vote by the Atlanta City Council before he is officially named as chief.