Friday, February 20, 2009

Soapbox: Mayor, City Council must address crime

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 7:04 PM

click to enlarge The killing of John Henderson sparked Atlanta resident awareness about crime.
  • The killing of John Henderson sparked Atlanta resident awareness about crime.

Kyle Keyser is a founder of Atlantans Together Against Crime, a grassroots citizen group that raises awareness about the city's growing crime problem. In an open letter to Mayor Shirley Franklin and City Council that Keyser asked CL to publish, he says the community is fully engaged, but residents' trust in their elected officials is slipping. On Feb. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m., ATAC will hold its second monthly rally at the corner of Martin Luther King and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevards.

An Open Letter to the Mayor and Council of Atlanta:

Lately, it seems, when you can’t fight crime with police officers you fight it with numbers.

“Things are better today,” you insist, and you reach back over the years to compare crime rates. Never mind the property crime increase here or another senseless murder there. You act as if this is all in our heads, perhaps being exacerbated by neighbors – and neighborhoods – too quick to react.

Madam Mayor & Council members – with all due respect – stop patronizing us. We are not children who are scared of the dark for no other reason than its darkness. Criminals are lurking in our streets and perpetrating horrible crimes on all sides of Atlanta. Maybe they are not killing or assaulting us as much as they did in your comparison years but they are breaking into our homes and our cars, they are robbing us of hard-earned possessions, and they are stealing our privacy, our peace, and our sense of safety with alarming frequency.

As a result, communities are coming together to better self-police. You’ve encouraged us to do so and we are on board. Yet, windows continue to get broken and more homes are being invaded. As this continues, glass isn’t the only thing damaged. So is our collective trust in you. When the “lesser” crimes don’t get the same attention as the “more serious” crimes do, you leave the door open for more.

This is a cycle that we will not accept. There are hundreds of broken windows across Atlanta neighborhoods and there are not enough cops to do something about them. The furloughs have effectively reduced the force by nearly 20%. We all understand that times are tough but you must find a way to undo these public safety furloughs.

Fewer cops equal higher crime. Fewer firehouses equal worse fires. These are the basic equations of reality, not the sharp-penciled calculations of your statisticians.

As Atlantans Together, we expect – no, demand – better from all of you. We don’t want election-year promises about a safer tomorrow. You are in office now, you are spending our money now, and you must deliver now. All of you must put aside your differences and work together for better and more creative public safety solutions.

We represent a coalition of the aggrieved. Our grievance is about fewer police on our streets, slower response to fires, and the weakening of our public safety system in a time when we need it the most. We are determined to protect our families, our homes, our businesses, and our neighborhoods. But we need your help to do that. We will not let up until you find a way to help us make Atlanta safer, now.

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