BUCKHEAD, Ga. — State lawmakers are defending their decision to add $1.25 million to the fiscal year 2024 budget to open a Georgia State Patrol post in Buckhead.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington, held a press conference in which he clarified that the new satellite post would serve taxpayers across the city.
“We had good contact and outreach and discussed this with the governor (Brian Kemp) and the lieutenant governor (Burt Jones) and with the[Atlanta]City Hall,” he explained to Channel 2’s Michael Seiden. “We wanted to make sure that everyone was on board.”
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Burns said the idea was to rent a building in Buckhead that would house up to 20 state police officers who could assist the Atlanta Police Department.
“It shortens the response time from other posts around the city and region,” he added.
A spokesman for the city of Atlanta sent the following statement to Channel 2:
The safety and well-being of Metro Atlanta is a group effort, and the Georgia State Patrol is a valued public safety partner in this work. This decision by world leaders will allow for even closer collaboration with the Atlanta Police Department and improve security across our city.”
The announcement comes nearly a week after the state legislature rejected legislation that could have paved the way for Buckhead to have its own town.
“I think this announcement is a joke,” said Bill White, CEO of the Buckhead City Committee. “It’s like putting a band-aid on something that clearly needs surgery.”
“What I do know is that this is the direct knee-jerk response of 4,000 Buckhead moms, businesswives and families calling the governor (Kemp) and telling him how upset they are that he killed our vote in the Senate.” , he added.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Burns responded to the criticism.
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to anything that was said or done in that building, or any pressure,” he said. “It’s the right thing.”
Governor Kemp and Lt. gov. Jones also expressed support for the plan.
“At every level in Georgia, we are demonstrating that we will not tolerate crime or street gangs,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Through strong partnerships with state and local leaders, we bring the fight to those who threaten our communities. This latest contribution will be the latest example of those partnerships, and I am grateful for the combined commitment of the House and Senate to this effort.”
“Fighting crime and working with law enforcement to address the issue head-on is a top priority that I will not waive,” said Lt. Governor Burt Jones. “Funding for this new satellite post will increase resources for an area of the state where citizens have been looking for a larger law enforcement presence. By working together, the city, county and state can increase public safety for citizens while supporting existing efforts and initiatives.”
Channel 2 spoke off-camera with neighbors from several communities. While some supported the plan, others told us the money should be spent on low-income neighborhoods where drugs and gangs are more common.
After approval by the House of Representatives, the fiscal 2024 budget will go to the Senate for consideration before it reaches Gov. Kemp’s desk.
The state government will finance the budget for the 2024 financial year from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
IN OTHER NEWS:
This browser does not support the video element.