ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — The City of Atlanta is moving forward with a new state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Center, despite some opposition. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta police responded to some of the backlash during a press conference on September 9, 2021.

Groups opposing a new training center expressed disappointment on social media after Atlanta City Council approved it Wednesday night. City and public safety officials stood their ground on why they say the center is vital. “Holding the men and women who serve us in a public safety capacity accountable is not mutually exclusive from supporting them,” said Bottoms. “I thank those members of council who were courageous in placing this vote.”

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Officials say it was time to move on from the condemned facilities they’ve used for decades. “This training academy will ensure that we no longer have to depend on neighboring jurisdictions to allow us to use their training course, to allow us to use their training village,” said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum.  It’s a ground lease agreement with the Atlanta Police Foundation to build the campus on 85 acres of city property, with much of it funded through private sector donations. “It will be dedicated to police reform, dedicated to the public,” said Dave Wilkinson, the foundation’s president and CEO.

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They say it will address the very things residents have demanded to fight crime. “It gives us encouragement, that not just this administration, not just this council, but citizens of Atlanta really take public safety seriously,” said Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant. “Although it may not be an immediate impact, you have invested into the future of the public safety of the City of Atlanta,” said Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith. Bottoms addressed those who want to defund police by means of reallocating resources. “For people who’ve not spent countless hours creating a city budget, it’s not as simple as saying take it out of this department and put it there.

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The training center will be built in phases, and it’s expected to open in the fall of 2023.