In January 2023, the City of Atlanta released the following update on public safety:
Message from Mayor Andre Dickens
Public safety has been my top priority since taking office. Through our One Safe City plan, we are engaging the entire city—including both law enforcement and non-law enforcement agencies—to improve safety throughout Atlanta. This comprehensive approach addresses the root causes of crime and aggressively targets the gangs, drugs, illegal guns and repeat offenders that afflict our communities, both in Atlanta and across Georgia.
In partnership with Darin Schierbaum, whom I appointed as our city’s 26th chief of police last year, we implemented many new public safety initiatives throughout 2022. Some, like our Summer Safety Plan, had immediate and measurable effects. Others, like investments in the recruitment and retention of our law enforcement officers, will continue to yield dividends into 2023 and beyond.
2022 Crime Statistics
- In 2022, Atlantans saw a 7% decrease in overall crimes against people—made up of rape, aggravated assault and homicide. This included a 14% decrease in rapes and an 8% decrease in aggravated assaults. Homicides increased, with 11 more than in 2021. Crimes against people were down in five of APD’s six zones, while the city experienced a 3% increase in Zone 1, driven primarily by a 4% increase in aggravated assaults.
- Property crimes are even year-over-year, with a 14% decrease in robberies offset by increases in burglaries and shoplifting.
- There were some notable bright spots around the city. In Zone 2 which covers North Atlanta including Buckhead, crime was down in every category other than shoplifting— including 21% fewer homicides, 26% fewer rapes, 17% fewer robberies, 5% fewer burglaries and 24% fewer motor vehicle thefts. The city also went through all of 2022 with no major violent crimes at Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square.
- The Atlanta Police Department is one of the most transparent in the nation, publishing crime statistics on its website every week. Access the data at: www.atlantapd.org/i-want-to/crime-data-downloads
Building One Safe City
- Supporting Public Safety Personnel: Mayor Dickens has made considerable investments to recruit and retain top-tier public safety personnel. After visiting Roll Calls in every zone and hearing directly from officers, the Mayor extended 9% raises for sworn Atlanta Police Department personnel and E-911 personnel, on top of $4,000 retention bonuses for sworn officers. He also extended 7% raises to Atlanta Department of Corrections officers, and accelerated raises for Atlanta Fire Rescue Department personnel ranging from 8.5% to 17%. Through aggressive nationwide recruiting, the City of Atlanta hired 212 officers in 2022. The Mayor also opened Unity Place, a housing complex for police recruits.
- New Take-Home Patrol Cars: In November, Mayor Dickens and Chief Schierbaum announced APD’s first take-home car program for officers. This program, which was created in response to officer feedback, is designed to help boost recruitment and retention. The fleet of take-home vehicles also provides a visible and tangible sense of safety and security for Atlanta’s neighborhoods. This fleet of APD cars has a new look, designed in collaboration with SCAD Atlanta students and voted on by APD officers. The design features six lines representing the wing of the Phoenix as well as APD’s six patrol zones coming together as One Safe City.
- Connect Atlanta: Connect Atlanta is the city’s 21st century neighborhood watch. This voluntary program enables residents and businesses to directly connect their cameras with the police department to enhance emergency preparedness, reduce criminal activity, and allow investigators to easily gather evidence in case of an incident. In its first year, the City integrated 13,403 cameras directly into its network and registered an additional 7,679, far outstripping the initial goal of 10,000 total. The program has already paid significant dividends, helping officers identify and arrest several suspects in high-profile incidents.
- Repeat Offender Tracking Unit: An estimated 40% of Atlanta’s crime is committed by repeat offenders—individuals with three or more felony convictions. In partnership with APD, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Fulton County and others, the Dickens Administration stood up the Repeat Offenders Tracking Unit. This dedicated multi-agency group shares information about repeat offenders across jurisdictions and in real time to ensure that these individuals receive fair and appropriate sentences.
- Light up the Night: Through the Light Up the Night initiative, Mayor Dickens set a goal to install or repair 10,000 streetlights across Atlanta. Better street lighting means reduced crime, improved road safety and greater visibility in neighborhoods. Through the first year of the program in partnership with Georgia Power, Atlanta exceeded its goal, adding, upgrading and repairing a total of 11,185 lights throughout the city.
- Taking Guns Off the Streets: Atlanta has prioritized efforts to take guns off the streets through strong policing. In 2022, Atlanta Police confiscated 2,958 firearms. Building on that success, Atlanta also held a gun buyback in October where APD removed an additional 302 guns from the streets.
- Nightlife Division: In response to an uptick of crime associated with nightlife, Mayor Dickens established the Nightlife Division. The division offers training and dialogue between City departments and nightlife industry leaders. The goal is to ensure that businesses have the information they need to keep their patrons and staff safe. Every quarter, the Nightlife Division organizes “Training Days”—workshops including classes on CPR, alcohol awareness, conflict de-escalation and more. The division also adds a layer of accountability for nightlife establishments. These efforts helped lead to a 25% reduction in firearm-related violence at nightlife establishments.
- Investing in Improved 911 Response Times: In addition to investments in recruitment and retention of E-911 operators, Mayor Dickens has directed significant investments in E-911 operations. He dedicated $15 million from the Moving Atlanta Forward infrastructure program to modernize Atlanta’s 911 Communications Center. An upgrade in the technological platform in early November led to a significant decrease in hold times, with the average answer time dropping from 32.03 seconds to 18.01 seconds. More than three-quarters of calls are now answered in under 15 seconds.
- Summer Safety Plan: Through a multi-pronged summer safety plan, the Atlanta Police Department and law enforcement partners successfully drove crime—particularly violent crime— lower over the summer months. The Department also collaborated with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Georgia State Patrol to execute 100 Days of HEAT to reduce fatal crashes from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The agencies also collaborated on street racing activities, making several major arrests and impounding vehicles used in illegal racing.
- Youth Engagement: Mayor Dickens has made several investments in safe alternatives for young people. He launched Midnight Basketball, which led to measurable reduced crime in the neighborhoods where it was played. Other programs like the At-Promise Initiative and Atlanta Police Athletic League engage youth and deter crime by connecting young Atlantans with wraparound services, activities and other support to help improve their quality of life and help them reach their full potential. Through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, the City and its partners employed more than 3,000 young people with an average hourly wage of $16.63. This program helped reduce water sales by youth throughout the city—over the summer months the city received 43% fewer calls regarding water sales this year as compared to 2021.