Atlanta mayor calls for task force to guide development of public safety training center

Some against this project call it a PR stunt by the city after months of public outcry.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, Mayor Andre Dickens announced he’s forming a 40-person task force to help guide the City’s development of the planned public safety training center.

Some against this project call it a PR stunt by the city after months of public outcry.

“This is basically part of a propaganda game by the City after again they’ve seen the protests that have happened around the city, the protests that have happened at Morehouse and Spellman,” said Kamau Franklin, a leader of the movement against what critics call ‘Cop City.’

The $90-million project was passed by the Atlanta City Council in 2021, but has been met with public pushback, especially in recent months.

In January, a demonstrator against the project was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper during a clearing operation at the site of the project.

Since the beginning of their investigation, state officials have said the demonstrator fired at officers first, injuring one trooper.

The shooting led to spirited rallies. One rally morphed into a destructive riot in mid-January. Demonstrators torched multiple Atlanta Police cars and smashed the windows of several businesses in downtown Atlanta.

On Tuesday, city officials said this task force idea was not in response to protests or the public outcry.

“This isn’t like we’re just, we just woke up and we’re starting something new here,” said Bryan Thomas, Communication Director for the Mayor’s Office. “This is an expansion and an extension of those efforts. Really to invite more voices in,” Thomas said, in an interview with Atlanta News First.

Those against the training facility are planning a week of action from March 4- March 11.

The City is hoping to attract forty people to focus on four different areas of the project’s development.

  • Parks & green space
  • Visioning, memorializing, and repurposing the former Atlanta Prison Farm Site
  • Sustainability and resilience
  • Police, fire and E-911 training curriculum

The City of Atlanta is also relaunching with additional information about plans for greenspace enhancement and protection and facts on the purpose and vision for the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

The mayor hopes to form the task force by March with its first report expected by July.