An Atlanta nonprofit wants to compensate residents for feedback on police violence and public safety.
The Southern Center for Human Rights is hosting a series of town hall meetings to engage the community with the goal of receiving holistic data to make policy recommendations directly to Atlanta officials. The initiative from the public interest law firm is an effort to educate residents about disparities — how resources are allocated, as well as violence and presence — in policing between zones.
The meetings will take place throughout August and September, one guaranteed in each of the six policing zones. SCHR is currently taking feedback to determine if meetings will take place in person, virtually, or in a hybrid setting to create a diverse space for residents to attend. While the conversation can extend beyond city limits, the community cohorts will be exclusive to Atlanta residents living in zones 1 through 6. Residents can use the Atlanta Police Department’s zone interactive finder tool to confirm. All participants will receive compensation for their time and input into the cohort.
Tiffany Williams Roberts, the director of public policy at SCHR, says that community engagement is one of the center’s main goals to keep the Black community informed about policies that directly affect their daily lives. “Oftentimes, what we see is community members who aren’t aware of the changes happening in City Hall,” Roberts said. “It is our duty to make sure that no policy becomes a reality without public knowledge on what actually is at stake.”
The conversation around overpolicing in Atlanta has gotten more heated since the 2020 shooting death of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of APD. According to SCHR, despite an increase in police funding and calls for more de-escalation training, there has been a report of more deadly force by APD so far this year, as compared to 2021.
In the past two years, SCHR also found that APD uses a points-based performance evaluation system to incentivize specific types of arrests. For instance, arrests of a juvenile credits an officer with 5 points, whereas responding to calls for service is worth 0.25 points.
That’s why Roberts says understanding the data provided from these meetings will become a helpful tool in decreasing violent interactions between law enforcement and Atlanta’s Black communities.
“We are hoping to see a diverse community response that will help bring human faces and stories to the numbers we have been seeing,” she said.
Want to take part in the town halls? Fill out the SCHR Community Safety and Police Violence interest form here.