‘They will take what’s most precious:’ Fulton DA, Sheriff ask for funding in speech against violence

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Sheriff Pat Labat did not hold back when they spoke to county commissioners about violent crime.

“If you serve this community and you are not worried about crime, you need to be voted out of office,” said Willis.

With pictures of murder victims in the background, the pair of elected officials said they are too underfunded and understaffed to keep up with the rise in crime in the state’s largest county.

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“This problem affects all of us,” Willis said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, if you’re white, they will take what’s most precious to you: your child, your life.”

Willis says the COVID-19 lockdown from March 2020 to June 2021 left 7,800 cases unindicted.

As of right now, the Supreme Court of Georgia has given prosecutors until September 13 to investigate and indict all of those cases.

Willis says that without more funding, that deadline will be difficult to reach and more than 1,400 violent offenders could be released.

“We have a historic backlog of 12,000 cases. The manpower we have right now will not adequately suffice, nor will the COVID money with the restrictions that have been put on it,” she said.

She is asking the county for $4,900,000 to hire more staff and address the backlog.

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Sheriff Labat says he needs more funding to address an overcrowded jail and expired bulletproof vests that are putting the lives of deputies in danger.

“When I say I need 50 deputies, and it comes back on that chart, I’m getting 15. Somebody didn’t hear me,” he said.

Fulton County Chairman Rob Pitts says the county is taking steps to address the COVID-19 backlog with the D.A.’s office.

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“Every department head wants more,” Pitts said. “We’re going to do everything we can to give her the resources that she needs, and I think we’ve done a good job with that, and the same thing with the sheriff.”

Pitts says safety is a priority and so is tackling it without raising taxes.