UPDATE: Atlanta City Council approves funding for ‘Cop City’ projectSupporters hold signs during a Faith Coalition press conference at Atlanta City Hall on Monday, March 6, 2023, calling on Mayor Andre Dickens and the City Council to stop Cop City and cancel the lease to the Atlanta Police Foundation. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Update: The city council voted to approve funding at around 5:30 a.m. on June 6, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and social media reports. Here is our previous story….
Atlanta, GA — The Atlanta City Council is considering legislation today, June 5, to amend the fiscal year 2023 general fund to allocate $30 million in uncommitted general funds to support the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
The actual cost to the taxpayers could be considerably higher, however.
A coalition of activists vehemently opposes the project, which they have dubbed “Cop City.”
The city council approved a ground lease agreement with the Atlanta Police Foundation in 2021 to build the facility on city-owned property located along Key Road, according to a press release.
The meeting is underway and the council is currently taking public comments. About 357 people were signed up to speak when the meeting began around 1 p.m., but there could be more speakers than that before the vote occurs. The city council will move into a committee of the whole meeting to accept additional public comment once they get through all of the speakers currently signed up. So far, most speakers have spoken in opposition of the project.
City leaders made some security changes due to the controversial vote. Most offices are closed today, so in-person services at Atlanta City Hall are temporarily halted. No gels or liquids are allowed in the building as well, Atlanta News First reported.
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 the destruction of property.
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 vote today is about using $31 million in public money to build the project, according to Axios Atlanta.
The Atlanta Community Press Collective reports that the final cost could be much higher, perhaps more than $51 million.
“Due to a lack of limitations on the terms of the leaseback agreement, however, the actual cost to the public of this ordinance may be over $51 million,” the Atlanta Community Press Collective reported.
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 that financially support APD in various ways. The land will be leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation for $10 per year.
ANF reported that the newest complaint about the training center is the cost – a total of $67 million. The city says about half of that is a reallocation of funding because once they have a central site for training police officers and firefighters, the city will no longer have to spend money on leasing buildings across town as training sites.
This is a developing story. The story will be updated as we get more information.
Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt and writer Kendall Glynn contributed to this story.