On September 8, 2021, the Atlanta City Council approved the construction of an 85-acre police and fire training academy. Proponents of the bill made it in response to a recent surge in crime following the quarantine from last year.
While this uptick in crime is evident, there is historical evidence to prove that increased funding for police departments does very little in alleviating crime. Instead, it only enables the increasingly militaristic and abusive behaviors from members of our law enforcement.
While the issue is contentious, experts agree that the police do very little to prevent crime before it happens. Experts have also seen that law enforcement agents have a lousy track record in solving crimes.
The FBI found that law enforcement only solved 38% of murders, 66% of rapes, 70% of robberies, and 47% of aggravated assaults each year. Another study by the Washington Post also found that there is no correlation between increases in police funding and decreases in crime.
Despite many state and local governments being more than likely aware of this fact, funding for police departments all around the country continues to hike.
Regarding the funding issue with the police, the root lies with police unions and the political clout power they wield. Although Georgia is one of 9 states in the US that prohibits collective bargaining for public sector workers, unions still offer legal support for officers and political advocacy, which is vital for getting projects like ‘Cop City’ funded.
Unsurprisingly, the Atlanta Police Foundation raised most of the money for this new project. Due to their status in the public sector, the Georgia government extended liberties to the police unions that other trade unions do not enjoy, making them quite powerful in comparison.
With police being a permanent political force in their jurisdiction, politicians from both parties have aided in ballooning police budgets over the past few decades.
While the foundation has raised a lot of the money for the project, the police will also put taxpayer dollars toward the training facility. It is a spit in the face to ask a populace who faces violence and abuse from this organization to aid them in constructing a training facility.
It is appalling to see that Atlanta City Council would instead isolate its police force from its populace than invest public funding into communities and alleviating the constructed need for heavy policing altogether.
This move on the part of the Atlanta City Council reads as disturbingly out of touch with this occurring just over a year of the George Floyd protests and the Atlanta Police Department’s very own controversy with the murder of Rayshard Brooks.
However, this instance should remind ordinary working-class people that these institutions are not working in our best interest. The general public must understand that the abuses and violations that happen under the purview of police work are not bugs but features of the system as a whole.