Atlanta launches police training center task force; DeKalb County restricts public access to area
LISTEN: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced the members for his new community task force providing input on the police training center. As GPB’s Amanda Andrews explains, over 40 people were selected.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced over 40 members for the new South River Forest and Public Safety Training Center Community Task Force providing input on the police training center and nearby green areas.
The first meeting for the task force will be in April. The members will discuss four key issues: parks and green space, repurposing the Atlanta prison farm site, sustainability, and first responder training curriculum. The group's recommendations will supplement input from the Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
In a press release, Dickens said this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in parks and public safety.
“I want the community at the head of the table, sharing their expertise and aspirations,” he said. “I look forward to receiving recommendations which will continue to inform the training center and the parks, trails and community spaces our communities can be proud of.”
An initial set of recommendations is expected by July, but the new group does not have the power to stop the project.
The task force comes after months of major protests and arrests on land and parks near the site. DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond issued an executive order Friday declaring Intrenchment Creek Park dangerous and closing it until further notice. The executive order cited recent criminal activities near the properties and the discovery of dangerous hidden traps as the reason for the closure.
Thurmond said at his Friday press conference he could not keep the park open any longer.
“These are potentially deadly contraptions that were located on the property, hidden. And we are concerned that there may be others,” he said. “And my responsibility as CEO, my prime directive, is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of DeKalb County, Ga.”
Thurmond said law enforcement will be on site to ensure people do not enter the closed and restricted areas. During the temporary closure anyone found entering the closed properties can be prosecuted for trespassing and any cars parked on the properties can be towed.