As the Senate Chairman of Public Safety, I work daily with dedicated city, county, school, state, and federal professionals whose noble career path requires them to prioritize saving lives, upholding the peace, and preserving our most cherished freedoms and liberties. For these courageous individuals, those critical imperatives guide their duties as they face incredible demands and challenges on any given day. They sacrifice and stand ready to do so devoting themselves to the truism that, for a civilized society, the ability to protect and respond to citizens during their time of need is supreme. Please take a moment to thank all those who serve us on the front lines in our community and put their lives on the line for you and me.
Earlier this year, I visited the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center site after the latest round of what has been described as domestic terrorist attacks. Make no mistake, this had all of the appearances of coordinated domestic terrorism. Faceless insurgents cowardly attacked law enforcement and destroyed equipment. To my disappointment, some people have defended such alleged criminality while brazenly playing politics. Anyone who does not publicly denounce these criminal actions is, at best, part of a greater problem and should be ashamed.
Some of the supporters of this misconduct also carried the insidious and incredulous banner of defunding the police. Let us not forget that this cry was heard across the U.S. as cities were ravaged, courthouses destroyed, and murder rates skyrocketed. Against this backdrop, anyone promoting such an ill-conceived strategy would seem to be lost and with little concept of the dangerous reality that violent crime poses to us all.
Illustrating this point, an assortment of the most “progressive” cities nationwide now realizes the catastrophic impacts of their poor and shortsighted decision-making and are changing course. Unfortunately, for far too many victims, this is far too little, much too late.
Still, as seen in the recent “Block Cop City” protest, these self-evident lessons are not universally learned. Only a few short years ago, amid destructive riots, we heard demands for improved public safety training and “rethinking” policing. Now that such training is offered, it is resisted in many circles, at times with violence. Revealingly, these pleas consistently appear to emanate from political forces which express little concern for intensifying violent crime or the plight of its mounting victims.
Reducing the funding for public safety and training without question leads to higher crime, longer response times, and endangering innocent people. Maintaining and increasing funding for First Responders is crucial for ensuring the safety and stability of our communities. Police, Fire, EMS, and 911 Dispatch play an indispensable role in deterring crime, responding to emergencies, and upholding the rule of law. Economic opportunity hangs in the balance as well. People will not move to or invest in places where they do not believe that their families and businesses will be safe.
We are blessed to live in the United States. We are a republic and elect people to serve in different levels of government. If we do not like the direction, we can vote and make changes during the elections process. Circumventing legitimate democratic processes in favor of destroying and submitting to violent forces of an anti-public safety agenda, as some seem to favor, is antithetical to a functioning republic. It is anti-American and dangerous.
Those violently protesting in opposition to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center should spend time attempting to pass the police academy, fire academy, or become a paramedic. As I see it, most would likely fail. It requires a selfless strength of character to rush in when all others run away. My friend and decorated veteran Colonel Mike Steele says it best, “Patriotism without action is counterfeit.”
Governor Brian Kemp led the way to help protect the City of Atlanta by creating the Joint Law Enforcement Task Force last year to tackle the escalating crime. This has proven effective along with new and strong leadership from Atlanta’s current Mayor and Chief of Police who are still cleaning up from the prior administration’s listlessness when it came to any number of important aspects of public safety including criminal street gang recruitment and crime in particular.
It is hard to lead and govern, but it is the right thing to do. Offhanded comments indicative of ambivalence to public safety and crime victims from those who attempted to win elections and then appear to struggle to remain relevant, only reaffirm why, in this writers’ eyes, they should not be in government office.
No matter where you live in Georgia, Atlanta is our capital city. A safe, secure, and prosperous Atlanta is important to every Georgian. Supporting the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is essential for the well-being and security of everyone. It is paramount that we provide our First Responders with the necessary resources and backing, as they play an irreplaceable role in maintaining order, deterring criminal activity, and ensuring that our neighborhoods remain safe places to live and work, for ourselves and our children.
Let me be clear, I proudly stand in support of the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. As someone who served for over three decades as a firefighter/EMT and five total generations of my family have honorably served as First Responders (Fire, Police, EMS, 911), I know firsthand the importance of training my brothers and sisters in public safety. Training our Bravest and Finest is critically important to the safety of our men and women in uniform, as well as those we are sworn to serve and protect.
Senator John Albers serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety. He represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee, Cobb, and Fulton counties