Atlanta police officers have been deployed to the construction site of the DeKalb County public safety training center after the fatal shooting of an environmental activist in the area that left a Georgia state trooper wounded and sparked violent protests in the city.
During a public safety committee meeting on February 13, Atlanta Police Department Chief Timothy Peek told members of the city council that an unspecified number of officers would be redeployed to the site amid ongoing dangers from protestors.
He assured that the redeployment would have a minimal impact on emergency responses city-wide.
“We have placed some officers out there because of the violence that’s been at that particular location to ensure that the officers aren’t hurt, that the construction people — who are there doing the service on behalf of Atlanta Police Foundation and the build-out — would be safe because there have been threats, there have been a lot of things going on,” Peek said. “But it’s a very small footprint of people who are out there with a good plan in place to ensure that everyone’s safe.”
The deployment comes weeks after the APD and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office deployed SWAT teams with help from Georgia State Patrol troopers to clear the woods prior to construction of the $90 million training facility nicknamed “Cop City” by protestors.
The construction of the building was opposed by environmental activists in the city, including activist Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, who was shot and killed during an altercation with police during a “clearing operation” in the area on January 18.
The deadly encounter also left a state trooper wounded from a gunshot to the abdomen.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation alleges that Teran fired first. However, the incident was not captured on body camera video as Georgia state troopers do not generally wear the devices.
To address the heightened security risk, District 12 Councilman Antonio Lewis asked whether the Atlanta Police Foundation nonprofit could help secure the area.
The foundation is in charge of the project.
“Quite frankly, I think this is a place that we’ve never been with the level of violence that we’ve had at that location,” Peek replied.
According to a statement from the APD, officers from at least every division will be on the site.
“Commanders will be closely monitoring crime throughout the city and routinely assessing resource placement to ensure our ability to respond to and address crime elsewhere is not impacted,” Senior Police Officer TaSheena Brown told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Protestors resisted the project after DeKalb County’s planning department issued land disturbance permits on January 31.
The fate of the project still hangs in the balance after resident Amy Taylor filed a formal challenge accusing the city and county of neglecting existing restrictions on sediment discharges and exaggerating the amount of green space that would be preserved.
An emergency injunction filed by Taylor’s attorney has cited a county code that states that an appeal of land disturbance permits should result in work being stopped, despite construction workers beginning work on the site.
If an injunction is granted, work on the training center could be halted for another two months.