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Atlanta Starts Private Security Force While Mayor Brags About ‘Reallocating Funds’ From Police

Atlanta, GA – While Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms brags about being “ahead of the curve” in “reallocating funds” away from the city’s police force, local residents are teaming up with lawmakers and law enforcement agencies to establish a private security force to help combat surging crime rates.

The $1.62 million project, known as the “Buckhead Security Plan,” will be used to supplement the Atlanta Police Department (APD) in the commercial and residential Buckhead neighborhood area, according to FOX News.

The plan includes adding more license plate readers and security cameras throughout the area, as well as crackdowns on “party houses” and drag racing, FOX News reported.

The private security force will operate as “a coordinated security patrol consisting of extra-duty officers from the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia State Patrol, and private security firms,” according to the new plan.

Atlanta City Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit, Howard Shook, and Matt Westmoreland have agreed to devote $125,000 from the municipal funds to help make the Buckhead Security Plan a reality, FOX News reported.

The Atlanta Police Foundation and the Buckhead Coalition have also asked for people to make private donations to fund the private security force, which is planning to begin patrols in January.

Businesses, police, and local politicians banned together push ahead with the plan in the wake of the recent murder of seven-year-old Kennedie Maxie, who was hit in the head by a stray bullet while Christmas shopping with her aunt and mother on Dec. 21, according to FOX News.

Kennedie was riding in a car outside Phipps Plaza when the shooting occurred, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

She was rushed to a local hospital, where she remained in critical condition until her death on Dec. 26, according to FOX News.

Atlanta experienced 99 homicides in 2019.

Kennedie’s death marked the 155th homicide in the city so far this year.

Members of the city council have blasted Bottoms for allegedly downplaying Atlanta’s surging crime rate in recent press conferences, FOX News reported.

“I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick.’ Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere,’” Shook said in a statement after Kennedie’s murder. “Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is…And please, not another throw-away press conference utterly devoid of game-changing action steps.”

The city councilman said the municipal funds he is allocating to the private security force is being made “on behalf of Kennedie Maxie,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Far too many of our residents don’t feel safe, and too many of our men and women in uniform don’t feel supported,” Westmoreland said in a press release, according to the Northside Neighbor. “This plan aims to change that.”

“Every day, we ask our officers to stand in harm’s way. It’s important for them to know they have our support, and we have their backs,” he added.

Shook blamed a general lack of leadership for helping contribute to the increase in violent crime throughout the city.

“It will take a lot to turn this around. But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: 1). Leadership; 2). Some leadership; 3). Any leadership,” Shook said in a statement, according to FOX News.

Bottoms has somewhat sidestepped activists’ demands to defund APD by bragging about how “ahead of the curve” the city has been with regards to “reallocating funds” away from police, FOX News reported.

“We are ahead of the curve in Atlanta because we are already reallocating our public safety [funds],” she touted in the past. “We are already moving 60 percent roughly out of our corrections budget into that very specific area.”

“In some areas people are calling it defunding the police, in Atlanta we’ve been doing this work over the past couple of years,” the mayor added.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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