Atlanta today begins an aggressive crime-fighting initiative that particularly focuses on gangs amid concerns that crime is out of control and its police chief has “checked out,” reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Much of the crime is committed by gangs and young people who are more brazen and knowledgeable about their targets, Police Chief Richard Pennington said.
A rash of local violence has included the unsolved murder of former boxing champion Vernon Forrest and the carjacking of Councilman Ceasar Mitchell. Yesterday was the first time since those incidents that the mayor and the chief have spoken publicly on crime, raising a fresh round of complaints that city leaders are inattentive to the issue. Atlanta police have had trouble keeping new officers. More than one-third of the officers who left the force between 2004 and 2007 worked in the department for less than a year. Pennington, who has said he is leaving the force at year's end, addressed questions from reporters wondering if he has “checked out.” Pennington said crime is down in the city, but conceded the department can do more. He added, “I have not checked out.”