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A Georgia House committee will meet today to begin the task of looking at alarming crime rates in Atlanta at the request of Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). A spokesman in the office of Committee Chairman Rep. J. Collins (R-Villa Rica) confirmed that this will be an organizational meeting for the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee. However, InsiderAdvantage learned late yesterday that “the committee should be ramping up in the next few weeks.”

Collins is requesting committee members give input about testimony that will be presented at the upcoming hearing as well as dates and times for that hearing. This hybrid meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Room 406 in the Coverdell Building at the Capitol.

Several months ago, Ralston sent a letter to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms voicing concerns over what he saw as a marked increase in crime in Atlanta. He announced then that hearings would be forthcoming to “determine if state intervention might be necessary.”

In that March letter to the Mayor, Ralston said he felt, “a particular sense of obligation” to members of the General Assembly who spend time in Atlanta during the legislative session. He wrote, “Over the past two years, there has been an alarming increase in their reports of auto theft, auto break-ins and other property crimes” and went on to say that he was “disturbed that 192 Atlanta Police officers quit or were terminated last year.”

He also requested that the “City of Atlanta cooperate with the Committee’s proceedings. I know that we share a desire to see Atlanta remain a place that families and businesses wish to call home.”

This committee hearing follows an announcement Monday from Governor Brian Kemp that up to $5 million in funds from the Governor’s Emergency Fund will be made available to state law enforcement to support crime suppression efforts in metropolitan Atlanta.

It’s no secret that our capital city has a serious crime problem – we see it covered in the news almost every day,” said Kemp. “That’s why, this legislative session, my administration pushed for harsher penalties for reckless street racing. This dangerous activity endangers lives, negatively impacts quality of life in neighborhoods, and serves as a hub for illegal activity.

“This funding – up to 5 million dollars through the end of June – will assist the Department of Public Safety and their partners in their mission to stop crime before it happens and ensure law-breakers are brought to justice. The state of Georgia will continue to use every resource at its disposal to rid our communities of crime and keep Georgia families safe.”

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