Good morning. I am delighted to be here with you at the 2011 Annual “Crime Is Toast” Breakfast. Thank you, Arthur, for that kind introduction and for your long-standing support of our men and women in blue.
I also wish to acknowledge both the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta Police Foundation for their ongoing advocacy and backing of our police force.
As Mayor of the City of Atlanta, I consider it the utmost privilege to be here to salute the bravest of Atlanta’s police officers and to honor those citizens who step up and make a difference in the public safety of our community.
This breakfast also gives me a chance to reaffirm one of my administration’s top priorities: Improving public safety across the City and making the Atlanta Police Department a best-in-class force in the United States and internationally.
Progress is being made. Over the past two years, we have seen a 12 percent drop in major crime in this city. Still, the overall numbers are not where either I or the Chief really want them to be.
We both agree on this: Numbers do not matter as much as perception, particularly if the public holds the belief that they are not safe in our city.
But I want everyone – residents, businesses, city employees and visitors – to know this: Public safety is Job One.
Personally, I rest easier knowing that Chief Turner and his command staff are building the best trained and most professional public safety force in the history of this city and are tasked with the goal of making Atlanta the safest major city in the United States.
So let me go through some of the projects and accomplishments over the past year.
When I took office, I pledged to hire at least 100 police officers each year with the objective of having 2,000 officers on the force by 2013. From the start of my administration to today, the city has hired 384 new officers, putting the force at nearly 1,794 officers. We are almost at our goal.
Those officers will be assigned and placed in those areas of the city and the airport where they will be most effective.
But we cannot focus on simply adding officers. We have to give them the tools and technology to do their job at the highest level.
Just yesterday, we unveiled one of APD’s most ambitious and state-of-the-art advances with the Video Integration Center or VIC. VIC is an extensive camera-surveillance network that will eventually span the city. Through this center, the APD integrates publicly and privately owned cameras across the city with monitors at the E911 Center, enabling them to put their eyes on key locations across the city with the aim of preventing and solving crime.
We are also creating partnerships and community connections.
Last summer, Chief Turner launched the new Community Oriented Policing Section or COPS as part of his strategic crime fighting plan. These community liaison officers work with beat officers to provide follow-up and time towards strategic planning and crime prevention.
The COPS program serves as an excellent way for residents and business owners of Atlanta to actively engage in proactive and preventive crime fighting strategies, alongside the men and women of the Atlanta Police Department.
As part of another community-based effort, the department’s “Salute” program actively encourages citizens to report suspicious activity. The program’s slogan, “If you see something, say something” says it perfectly.
I am also pleased that our police department is also doing everything it can to create the most inclusive force possible. In an effort to heal a fractured relationship between the city and the LGBT community, the department disbanded the Red Dog unit. With the assistance of a newly created LGBT Advisory Board, I also appointed two LGBT police liaisons within the past year.
On the subject of partnerships, the Atlanta Police Foundation, particularly behind the leadership of its President and CEO Dave Wilkinson, has proven to be an unflappable supporter for our police officers and an essential source of fundraising and advocacy. Dave, thanks to all of you at the foundation for your work.
Finally, let me talk briefly and directly to our men and women in uniform who have joined us today.
When you joined the force, you took a sworn oath to serve and to protect. We know that you will uphold the tenets of that oath and the statutes and laws of this city, state and nation. We know that you will represent Atlanta to the very best of your abilities.
But I want each and every one of you to know… and I want all of the uniformed officers who could not be with us here today to know … that you have the support of every single one of us here, whether we live in the city or work in the city. We will do what we can to make sure you succeed and give you the tools and training to reach that end.
Thank you for your service. And as you protect us, may God watch over every single one of you.
And now I am privileged to introduce Chief George Turner. I am reminded every single day that Chief Turner has been the right man at the right time to lead and advance the Atlanta Police Department.
Chief, please join us. I am eager to hear your views on the State of the Force.
Last updated: 3/28/2012 9:20:09 AM