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UPDATE: Stop work order lifted for Cop City site

Crime and public safety DeKalb County Trending

UPDATE: Stop work order lifted for Cop City site

Activists opposing the construction of “Cop City” at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm have occupied the site and neighboring Intrenchment Creek Park, pictured here. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Update 3: DeKalb County sent out the following update on April 7 at 10:31 a.m.

Update 2: DeKalb County sent out the following updated press release at 10:48 p.m. 

The Atlanta Police Foundation was sent an email at 4:45 p.m. stating that the stop work order was lifted after a report by two inspectors was reviewed by the county’s chief building official. The review confirmed that that the BMPs had been brought back into compliance with DeKalb County building codes.

The lifting of the stop work order is official when DeKalb officials retrieve the signs, which is expected to occur Friday morning.

The county also provided a copy of the environmental inspection report. To see it, click here

Update: Following the publication of this story, the city of Atlanta contacted Decaturish to say the stop work order has been lifted. A spokesperson for Mayor Andre Dickens produced an email from DeKalb Chief Building Official Marcus Robinson sent at 4:42 p.m. on April 6 saying the stop work order would be removed.

“Good day Mr. Alan Williams, please note that I have verified the accuracy of the inspector report as showing compliance of the BMP’s. Based upon that meeting with the Supervisor and Manager of the inspection division we are removing the STOP WORK ORDER today,” the email says.

However, DeKalb County sent a press release at 8:25 p.m. saying a stop work order had been issued. County officials were not immediately available for comment. This story will be updated when the county responds. 

Here is our earlier story ….

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County’s Planning and Sustainability Department on Thursday, April 6, issued a stop work order for the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Facility, known as “Cop City” by activists.

“According to the stop work order, on April 6, DeKalb County inspectors observed that the required silt fence and other erosion control measures were malfunctioning,” a press release from the county says. “Per the land development permit (Permit #1245564) issued on Feb. 2, 2023, Best Management Practices are required ‘to control soil erosion and sedimentation on the Property during construction, including, but not limited to, silt fences, mulch filter berms, and temporary sediment basins.’ The stop work order remains in effect until further notice.”

The Atlanta Police Foundation is constructing an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest. The location has historically been the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site. The project will cost approximately $90 million. The area will feature a burn tower; space for high-speed chases, a helicopter pad, a shooting range, and a mock village.  One-third of the bill will come directly from taxpayers, and the other two-thirds will come through the Atlanta Police Foundation, a collection of private non-profits who financially support APD in various ways. The land will be leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation for $10 per year.

The training center has been the subject of numerous protests by activists, and police have arrested multiple people over the last few months in connection to those protests, mainly for destruction of property.

Several residents voiced support for a stop work order at the site during a county commission meeting in February.

Resident Amy Taylor lives near the site of the public safety training center.

“My community has used this forest to leisurely walk their dogs, utilize bike trails that have been created over time and connect to nature,” Taylor said. “That was before we were prohibited to enter the property in 2021 by its owner, the city of Atlanta. I had no idea, nor did my neighbors, what would come to threaten life as we knew it and our peaceful little neighborhood – a police training facility less than 250 feet from my home.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Taylor, a member of the advisory committee helping to oversee the project, was appealing the county’s issuance of a land disturbance permit that would allow construction to move forward.

The South River Watershed Alliance and DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry joined Taylor in filing a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 13 seeking to halt construction activities related to the training center.

Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near the proposed training facility in the South River Forest. A State Trooper was also shot and wounded. Police allege Teran had a gun and have provided evidence that Teran purchased a gun in 2020.

The Georgia Bureau of investigation is investigating the shooting.

Teran’s family and their lawyers held a press conference on Monday, March 13, on the Decatur Square to release the results of their independent autopsy. That report shows Teran’s hands were raised when they were shot.

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael Thurmond issued an executive order on Friday, March 24, that closes and restricts access to Intrenchment Creek Park and other county-owned properties in the area. The park is close to the training center site. The land is central to the county’s controversial deal with a private company. DeKalb traded Intrenchment Creek Park for a nearby area in 2021, WABE reported.

On Monday, March 27, the county announced the steps it is taking to reopen the park to the public, including clearing the area of traps and activists on the property. During the sweep, police recovered “a Molotov cocktail, booby trap boards with rusty nails protruding out, and several syringes containing Fentanyl,” a press release from the county says.

Reporter Zoe Seiler contributed to this story. 

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