ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr today provided the statement below following Georgia House Speaker David Ralston’s call for the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, led by Chairman J. Collins, to hold hearings to determine if state intervention is needed to address the rise in violent crime in Atlanta:

For those of us in elected office, our first priority is keeping our communities safe. In fact, our state constitution says it is the paramount duty of the government to protect person and property.

We’re supposed to enjoy a right to freedom from fear. But that’s not the case today in the City of Atlanta, which has endured a sharp increase in violent crime that started in 2019.

Citizens in metro Atlanta remain on high alert while driving to and from work, getting groceries, driving on the interstate, pumping gas, picking their kids up from school, visiting the Atlanta Beltline or leaving their parked car. Their fear is warranted, and it is unacceptable. 

This is a quality of life issue for families, and it is also a threat to our economy. Unchecked violent crime in our capital city can threaten our status as the number one state in the nation in which to do business.

The truth is, much of this violent crime is driven by gang activity, and we must confront it. 

Our constituents are crying out for help. They are saying, "We don't want gangs in our neighborhood, we don't want violent crime in our neighborhood, but if there is gang activity in our neighborhoods, we want to know there is a solution, that somebody is paying attention and to know the cavalry is coming."

And we need to support the cavalry – led by our men and women in blue who are putting their lives on the line to combat gangs.

In a tension-filled election cycle, many slurred law enforcement for political expediency. Now their lack of respect for the badge is manifesting into problems with recruitment and retention and overall public safety. Many of the problems we are seeing, most notably in Atlanta, are due to lack of personnel to respond quickly, if at all. New programs to combat violent crime are meaningless without the personnel to carry them out.

"Our reporting shows that the public believes the city is losing the battle when it comes to protecting its citizens,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in a Jan. 15 editorial. “That’s unacceptable for a city as important and influential as Atlanta."

The Department of Law agrees with the AJC and with Speaker Ralston that more must be done.

In 2018, I launched the Georgia Anti-Gang Network to pull together local, state and federal partners and combat gang violence. We are not letting up statewide, and we will not allow what is happening in metro Atlanta to go unaddressed. At our next Georgia Anti-Gang Network meeting, we will also discuss how to stop the gang activity happening all over metro Atlanta and what led to this surge in crime.

In addition to the work of the Georgia Anti-Gang Network, I will provide appropriate resources from the Department of Law to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and we look forward to more leadership from the City of Atlanta on this issue.