April 15th Transform Westside Summit: Highlighting Atlanta Police Foundation & Public Safety

Westside Future Fund’s April 15th Transform Westside Summit highlighted Atlanta Police Foundation and its commitment to public safety as well as fostering a healthy relationship between law enforcement and residents of the Historic Westside. Featured guests included: Officer Hantz Jean-Pierre, Unity Place Resident Officer, Atlanta Police Department; Major Reginald Moorman, Zone 1 Commander, Atlanta Police Department; Karen Rogers, Director of Community Development, Atlanta Police Foundation; Major Anthony Singh, Atlanta Police Department: Community Services Division, Community Oriented Police Section (COPS); and Lakeisha Walker, Vice President of Youth Initiatives, Atlanta Police Foundation. WFF President & CEO, John Ahmann joined co-hosts Ebony Ford and Benjamin Earley in opening the event which once again welcomes in-person attendance. Ford encouraged local small business owners to apply for WFF’s Program Related Investment (PRI) program ahead of Earley moderating the featured panel discussion.

Karen Rogers, Director of Community Development, laid out the mission and goals of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Rogers: “We work to bring public/private resources supporting the work of public safety. We spend a lot of time supporting the work of APD, the programs that they run. But, we also work to integrate a lot of resources from our philanthropic partners into the work. In the last six years our work has been very place based and our model has started here on the Westside. We manage programs all over the city from the Northside to the Southside. The main goal of the Atlanta Police Foundation is to make Atlanta a safer city.”

Earley: “Can you tell us a bit about the Westside Security Plan? Talk about what the Westside Security Plan is and the various programs that are associated.”

Benjamin Earley, Westside Correspondent and Redclay-Hill Senior Consultant, moderates the featured panel discussion.

Moorman: “The Westside Security Plan was created to efficiently direct public safety strategies and resources, integrating crime control and neighborhood revitalization with a focus in the Westside neighborhoods—English Avenue and Vine City.”

Major Moorman, Zone 1 Commander, Atlanta Police Department, discusses the Westside Security Plan.

Earley: “Major Singh, what are the plans for the next steps regarding public safety on the Westside, and can you share a bit about the relaunch of Westside Blue Initiative?”

Major Singh, APD: Community Services Division and COPS, speaks on APD’s presence in the Westside Community over the years.

Singh: “So what we’re currently working on is, number one: putting officers in this neighborhood to live, work, and play with the community. We’re putting up the cameras which fall under Operation Shield, and we are also starting a subsidized Westside off-duty police patrol…I was assigned to Zone 1 in 2015. And I remember the neighborhood over in Vine City was different. So I’m seeing an evolution since 2016 to current, and it can only take off from here and rocket.”

Earley recalled growing up playing basketball with officers at Center Hill Park, which sits next door to APD’s Zone 1 precinct, while underscoring the importance of officers being rooted in the communities they’re charged with protecting:

I appreciate the work that APD has been doing to be intentional about inclusivity on the force, and intentional about representation. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Officer Jean-Pierre speaks on bridging the gap between recruits and veteran officers and how that helps benefit the Westside community.

Rogers and Unity Place Resident Officer Hantz Jean-Pierre spoke on recruit housing, mentorship, and training.

Rogers: “This is the first in the nation neighborhood based housing for police recruits. A few years back, we heard some disturbing stories…there was some recruits literally living in their cars, too embarrassed to ask for help. When that situation arose two times, three times, we said ‘you know, we got to look at doing something about it.’ Our president and CEO, Dave Wilson solicited and talked about it with the philanthropic community, and we were able to get some resources and we secured a property at 744 North Avenue.”

Jean-Pierre: “I have a relationship with the recruits. I help them with whatever they need help with. If they have any questions, I explain to them more about their job titles as they go in and embark on the streets of Atlanta—how to be confident, how to be a professional…I mean we do things the right way here in Atlanta.”

“When we talk about, of course effective policing, a lot of that comes back to effective prevention of crime in the first place and what that looks like in practice,” said Earley before asking Lakeisha Walker to speak to APF’s impact through its At-Promise Centers.

Lakeisha Walker discusses how the At-Promise Center helps offer resources to support Westside youths.

Walker: “Our mission is to reduce juvenile crime while building relationships between law enforcement and the community. The way that we do that is through our At-Promise Center. We focus on three focus areas: diversion, intervention, and prevention. So we’re a diversion program first and foremost, because we want to make certain that we provide resources and support for our young people who have unfortunately had negative contact with the criminal justice system. However, we are a fully functioning youth center, so we don’t turn any youth away.”

The At-Promise Center is hosting a field day on June 10, 2022. All community members are encouraged to attend.

View the full summit including the audience Q&A below!