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Atlanta's Mayor, Police Chief Address Efforts To Combat Crime, Street Racing

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- City of Atlanta officials gave an update on efforts to combat crime, including the ongoing issue of street racing. They shared why this crime is high on the priority list and their strategies to address the problem.

Mayor Andre Dickens and Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant say they're putting all criminals on notice.  "If you think you might want to commit a crime in this city, you might want to think again," said Dickens.

Dickens said APD's Homicide Unit exceeds the national standard in closing homicide cases by arrest. APD closed 72% of its cases during the last annual report, and the national average is 54%.

The city has established a program called Connect ATL, which allows businesses to connect to the APD camera system to help detect, identify and solve crimes.

APD is also working with other agencies to set up a Repeat Offenders Unit. Bryant said, just last week, officers arrested over 20 offenders who had three or more felonies. They collectively had 553 prior arrests, and 114 were felonies.

"These are the challenges that the men and women of the Atlanta Police Department face, as well as the citizens who are victimized by these individuals," said Bryant.

City officials say all eyes are on repeat offenders, car thieves, gangs, and street racers.

"It's literally the equivalent of someone just taking a weapon and firing it indiscriminately in a crowd," said Bryant, regarding street racing. "Just because you have not hit someone doesn't mean that won't."

"We had an incident that vandalized our crosswalk at 10th and Piedmont. This rainbow crosswalk that has been a symbol of hope for everyone in the city," said Dickens, who also mentioned street racing is an ongoing problem in the Metro area, not just in Atlanta. Officials say it's also putting lives at risk and damaging infrastructure.

"Street racing is just as important to address in the City of Atlanta and throughout the region as any other crime. Oftentimes, when we get these racers, they too have illegal weapons on them," said Bryant.

To curb street racing at Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street, the city installed metal plates on the road, along with cameras and license plate readers. Officials say they're also partnering with the Georgia State Patrol and other agencies to crack down on racers.

Bryant says people often fail to see the dangers of street racing.

"Let one of those cars spin out of control and take the lives of some of our kids that are out there watching that, then people will see us respond, request that we respond differently," he said.

Residents like Amal Bennett-Judge still say the city should invest its time and taxpayer dollars on other issues instead.

"The city has better things to focus on. If you go throughout Buckhead, Bankhead, throughout the city, we have potholes," she said.

Others, like Juan Sorto, say it's addressing street racing is a step in the right direction.

"I guess it could be good for people in general, you know, make it a little safer for people to walk around," said Sorto.

Drivers caught street racing by police face a $1,000 fine.

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