Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Tuesday (May 4) the formation of a new group that will give recommendations for reducing crime as a spike in violence has plagued the city. She made the announcement while also naming Rodney Bryant, who had been interim police chief to serve as the permanent head of the police department.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, members of the working group have not been announced publicly, but they’ll provide feedback within the next 30 to 45 days “what more we can possibly do” in the short term to address crime.
Atlanta police have reportedly investigated 44 homicides this year, which is a 60 percent increase from a year ago. Bottoms has faced criticism over her handling of public safety issues, and it’s something she addressed at a press conference on Tuesday.
“You can say what you want to say about what you believe to be my deficits,” she said, according to the AJC. “People are entitled to their opinion. But don’t ever question whether or not I care.”
Additionally, Bottoms touted several public safety initiatives the city has recently taken on, including license plate-reading cameras, a summer program that aims to give jobs to 1,000 young people, and enhanced police recruitment.
“If there’s more we can do, I’m asking this working group to give us recommendations,” Bottoms said at the press conference.
Bryant has served as interim police chief since last year when former chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the Rayshard Brooks police shooting in June and the unrest that followed in the city. She was named chief of police in Louisville, Ky., in January.
“I don’t want there to be any question of whether or not I have confidence in the leadership of Chief Bryant,” Bottoms said.
Bryant assumes the permanent role after a particularly violent weekend in Atlanta in which 12 people were victims of shootings including 15-year-old Diamond Johnson.
Bryant said that he believes his department can reduce the amount of violence the city has been seeing, but also said officials are working on police outreach as well.
“What we saw this week were clearly people just lacking conflict resolution. We have to be able to resolve our conflicts differently and the proliferation of weaponry that we’re seeing in our city,” Bryant told WSB-TV. “But I truly believe with the strategies we have in place, we will see those numbers come down.”
(Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)