ATLANTA – Darin Schierbaum officially had the “interim” portion of his title dropped this week. Mayor Andre Dickens named him the permanent police chief for the Atlanta Police Department on Monday.
The new chief is not wasting any time trying to retain officers, grow the force, and use new technologies to fight crime. He also says he is worried about the safety of the officers.
Atlanta Police Chief Schierbaum promised more integration of technology
One of the biggest crimes hitting Atlanta this year has been car break-ins. Just this week, up to 50 vehicles were hit in the Summerville neighborhood. The chief says this is something he hopes to change.
“We can impact car break-in trends and if we have an area where we don’t have enough cameras or efficient cameras integrated. It does impact how we fight crime in the city,” the chief said.
One way hopes to do that is through the Connect Atlanta, but it’s something that not many people have joined.
“We need more integrations of cameras in the Connect Atlanta. Today, we were looking at an area where we had car break-ins occurring and I asked to see the cameras that had been integrated by the private sector and there were none there,” the chief said. “And so, we had a plan when we left today to go there to make sure we were engaging those businesses to integrate their cameras.”
The program allows for used to let police use private cameras to help them assess a crime scene faster. The chief says the key with this and many other programs is to stay engaged with the community.
“You can see the Atlanta Police Department this year has been engaged from January through today, this police department is combating drug houses, this police department is combating gangs, everybody deserved to be protected by the law,” the chief said.
Atlanta police chief says increased engagement has already led to some success
The chief says the city has already seen some success in curbing the trend of boys selling water on street corners. It is something that has led to more than one act of violence.
“When we engaged in individual selling water we determine is there another avenue we can point them to. The mayor’s summer employment initiative, any of our PAL centers, any of our At-Promise centers, did the family need support of the child that was selling water?” the chief said.
Chief Schierbaum says he plans to work with the mayor’s office on several new initiatives.
“The mayor wants a safe city. The mayor wants a city where our citizens and our visitors are safe and feel safe. He wants smart crime fighting and he wants us to use every tool we have using data and intelligence to be in the right places, arresting the right people, and at the same time building the trust with the community,” he said.
Atlanta police chief says new body cameras are designed to keep officers safe
One of those tools is the body camera worn by officers. The new enhances cameras will be recording the entire shift and can even be tracked.
“I can actually turn on a tab and see where every body-worn camera of every police officers is in Atlanta whether they’re actively on a call,” the chief said.
The new body cameras will not just allow an encounter to be recorded but will also be able to be accessed in critical situations to help save lives.
“I worry about the safety of our officers because I see our officers out working taking gang members of the street, removing guns from the hands of felons, and I’m always concerned about their safety because we’ve asked the fight crime and to fight it smartly and to take dangerous people off the street and their doing that,” the chief said.
Atlanta’s new police chief promise to rebuild the force
Upon taking officer, the city of Atlanta’s police force was down by about 500 officers, but he said it will take time.
During an event this week, a new Atlanta police car design was unveiled, but it is not just an overhaul of the façade. It comes with a new police change.
Moving forward, each officer will be getting their own vehicle.
Officers often complain about starting work without a vehicle because the previous shift had been sent on a late call.
“When we look at the No. 1 reason officers want to stay with the Atlanta Police Department, a take-home car is at the top of the list,” Chief Schierbaum said during Tuesday’s unveiling. “And so, today, we’re checking the box on the No. 1 item.”
Officers right away called it a morale booster.