This website does readability filtering of other pages. All styles, scripts, forms and ads are stripped. If you want your website excluded or have other feedback, use this form.

 to create a safer Atlanta  |

success fail Oct NOV Jun 09 2009 2010 2012 23 captures 09 Nov 2010 - 08 Nov 2018 About this capture COLLECTED BY Organization: Alexa Crawls Starting in 1996, Alexa Internet has been donating their crawl data to the Internet Archive. Flowing in every day, these data are added to the Wayback Machine after an embargo period. Collection: alexa_web_2010 this data is currently not publicly accessible. TIMESTAMPS ajc

Atlanta Weather


48° F

Pollen 2

Air quality 45

| Traffic

Opinion 7:12 p.m. Monday, November 1, 2010
  • Text size:

 to create a safer Atlanta

By David Edwards

The book is now closed on the public safety record of the Franklin administration. Between 2001 and 2009 the crime rate in Atlanta dropped by 40 percent, according to the FBI. Homicide fell 57 percent. Rape is down 72 percent. Violent crime overall is down 55 percent.

More opinion »

Columns and blogs

Crime is down across the country, but Atlanta’s improvement has far surpassed the national trend. Among cities with populations over 75,000, total crime is only down 24 percent during this period. Violent crime is only down 27 percent. Rape is only down 19 percent.

Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council should study these trends as they seek to make Atlanta safer. Adding more officers is effective, but Atlanta’s success is also tied to economic policies that revitalize neighborhoods.

Atlanta’s public safety improvement has occurred at more than twice the rate of the rest of the country. This relative improvement explains why Atlanta — after ranking in the top five highest crime cities for most of the previous three decades — now ranks 31st. Atlanta has lower crime than Salt Lake City, Orlando and Tacoma, Wash.

There is little doubt that the reforms in the Atlanta Police Department introduced by Mayor Shirley Franklin and former police Chief Richard Pennington had a significant impact. They hired an outside firm to recommend a new organization and policing plan, began to measure and track policing outcomes, and increased the size of the force by 20 percent.

While it is necessary to have a well-trained, equipped and motivated police force, other factors that drive down crime are even more important.

During the past decade, the Atlanta Housing Authority has replaced its crumbling public housing infrastructure with mixed-income communities. Economic development initiatives such as the Beltline and Atlantic Station have attracted private investment to blighted areas of the city. Perhaps most importantly, individual investors and homeowners have moved into neglected neighborhoods and transformed them into thriving communities.

As the urbanist Jane Jacobs pointed out almost 50 years ago, what makes a community safe is the community itself. The safest neighborhoods in Atlanta are not safe because they are swarming with police officers. They are safe because residents demand it. The job of government is to make sure that the city is designed in a way that encourages citizens to take ownership of their streets and those that use them.

As we look to Reed and his new administration to continue on this path to a safer city, I urge us to focus on the importance of neighborhood rejuvenation. A study recently released suggests that Atlanta has four of “25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.” The neighborhoods cited in the report also happen to be neighborhoods where little public or private investment has occurred in the past 25 years. That is no coincidence.

Rather than hiring more police officers, the city should invest more of its resources in public infrastructure — such as streets, parks and sidewalks — to attract private investors and new residents. We should accelerate investments in projects like the Beltline and Fort McPherson that have transformative potential. And we should find new and creative ways to support those “urban pioneers” who ultimately do the hard work of turning marginal neighborhoods into prosperous communities. As our experience of the past decade clearly demonstrates, public safety “emerges” from functioning neighborhoods. It cannot be imposed upon them.

David Edwards, a consultant for IBM’s Smarter Cities Initiative, was a senior policy adviser to Mayor Shirley Franklin from 2002 to 2009.

Inside AJC.COM

Need more brains

Zombie drama 'The Walking Dead' is getting a second season after the show posted monster ratings.

Can you see the change?

What's altered in the two photos? See how you score when you play the Find 5 Challenge!

The week's best photos

Check out these beautiful and informative images from around metro Atlanta, the nation and the world.

Retro playtime

What's old is new again, with classic toys like the Slinky making perfect gifts for the holidayss.

Fulfilling his dream

A new ESPN2 documentary tells the story of Gwinnett athlete Kyle Maynard, who tackles mixed martial arts.

Luckovich on compromise

Editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich gives his take on local news, politics, sports and celebrities.

Today's top videos


Watch more video

Local sports | Local video from AJC, Channel 2
  1. Witnesses describe fatal beating of Douglasville teen
  2. Library flasher arrested in Fayette County
  3. Big stop cements late win for Falcons
  4. Delta plane forced to return to Atlanta
  5. Georgia gets shot at No. 2 Auburn, signature win

More popular stories » Put this on your site

More photo galleries » Put this on your site

Get Deals by Email!

Join DealSwarm to get alerts about our daily discounts on dining and more local fun. In partnership with the AJC.
Join the Swarm!

Services » Find the right people for the job

Tell us what you think about the site
Subscribe »

Customer Care »

Vacation stops, manage subscriptions and more

AJC Services
Other Editions
AJC Sites

Visitor Agreement | Privacy Statement
© 2010 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution