The following article contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
ATLANTA, GA- On the day after Christmas, another child died, yet another young innocent victim in a year full of our most vulnerable—our children—being gunned down before their lives have even begun. Now her murder has officials in Atlanta looking to supplement the Atlanta police with a private security force.
For seven-year-old Kennedy Maxie, her “crime” was riding in a car with her aunt in Atlanta, where she was shot in the back of the head when shots rang out as her aunt drove near Phipps Plaza in the city, the Daily Caller reported.
Phipps Plaza is not located in a typically high crime, low-income part of the city. Rather it is located in Buckhead, which is described as an affluent residential and commercial neighborhood in Uptown.
After spending days in the hospital, the child died on December 26, her last Christmas spent in a coma in the hospital.
In 2020, this is nothing new. Law Enforcement Today has written numerous articles on young children, some as young as one, being gunned down in cities from Philadelphia to Chicago and now in Atlanta.
In Atlanta, City Council Member Howard Shook has had enough. Days before Kennedy died of her injuries, Shook said that it is “obvious that the civilian authorities do not control the streets and cannot provide even a token feeling of safety beyond our front doors.”
Shook continued, “To the administration, I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick.’ Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere.’ 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.”
As with any number of cities across the United States run by Democrats, Atlanta has also seen a spike in violent crime, including homicides. The department confirmed to NBC News that crime had increased exponentially in the city.
“As of the end of the week 52 reporting period, we are at 154 homicides compared with 99 for the same period of 2019,” said Atlanta police officer Steve Avery. “That is an increase of 61%.
Now, NBC News is saying that a coalition of politicians, police and businesses are calling for the establishment of a private security force to supplement the Atlanta Police Department.
Another council member, J.P. Matzigkeit told Channel 2 in Atlanta that, “I don’t think that we’re doing effective policing right now because I don’t think we’re putting enough resources and attention to it like we are with the police reform work that we’re doing. We have to do both.”
He continued, “We have to tackle this. I have said we are at war with crime, and we need to act like it.”
Matzigkeit also laid part of the blame on Atlanta Mayor Keisha-Lance-Bottoms, who has vocally supported the “defund the police” movement in the wake of the police shooting in the city of Rayshard Brooks.
Brooks was a drunk driver who disarmed an officer of his Taser and then attempted to use it on him. Brooks’ killing led to nights of riots in the city.
He said, “I think it was an unfortunate reaction, and it had some serious morale results in the force. It would be great if the city did what I think is the government’s very first primary obligation, and that is to keep people safe.”
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
“I think that a very simplified message is ‘defund the police,’ but I think the overarching thing is that people want to see a reallocation of resources into community development and alternatives to just criminalizing…behavior, so I think it’s incumbent upon us to help people articulate that frustration.”
As a result of young Kennedy’s death, Matzigkeit, Shook and another council member Matt Westmoreland announced that $125,000 of municipal funds were being directed to a proposal called the “Buckhead Security Plan,” which is designed to supplement municipal police with a private police force in the business district.
An advocacy group called the “Buckhead Coalition” put the plan together, which “would enhance public safety in Buckhead.” The coalition claims that this neighborhood has been called “The Beverly Hills of the East.”
So this got us to thinking. What message does such a plan send to lower-income parts of the city? Here you have what is described as an “affluent” neighborhood in Atlanta, the “Beverly Hills of the East” which is worthy of $125,000, yet lower income neighborhoods, where clearly more crime occurs are not?
There is also the issue of both training and accountability. One thing that we have heard over and over since the end of May is how police are improperly trained and there is no accountability.
While this private security force would have extra-duty officers from the Atlanta PD, as well as the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol, it would also consist of private security firms within the commercial and residential areas of Buckhead. And that’s the rub.
Some of what is being proposed in the plan are actually areas where civil rights and civil liberties activists have long complained about.
For example, the plan calls for an increase in surveillance cameras and license plate readers throughout the commercial district. It also calls for the force to crack down on matters such as drag racing and so-called “party houses.”
The plan, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimates will cost $1.6 million is scheduled to begin patrolling Buckhead in January. The Daily Caller said that the Atlanta Police Department, members of the Fulton County Commission, community groups and others reportedly support the plan.
On Tuesday, Atlanta police released the name of a suspect in the young child’s death, 24-year-old Daquan Reed of Virginia.
They have secured warrants for him charging him with felony murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and reckless conduct. Police have issued a $15,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Lt. Pete Malecki said that Reed got into an argument inside the mall, then left the parking lot and “in a senseless act of rage” fired off the shots, with one striking the child.
So what does that mean for other communities, especially minority communities? Is this going to be a matter of resources being allocated where it can be afforded? In most cities, low-income areas are synonymous with higher crime rates. Is Atlanta sending the message that only those who can afford protection are entitled to it?
In our mind, this type of approach actually plays into the systemic racism narrative. By picking winners and losers, who gets police protection and who doesn’t based on who can afford to pay for, in this case, extra protection and who cannot, what does this spell out for minority communities going forward?
This seems to be somewhat of a slippery slope. While we understand Atlanta wanting to do something about their exploding violent crime rate, something about this approach doesn’t seem right to us. When protection is based on ability to pay, doesn’t that seem kind of subjective to you? Does it seem fair? Does it seem right? It doesn’t to us.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!
Go to Source
Author: Pat Droney