Gov. Kemp vows state will protect new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center from protesters

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp is very supportive of the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center and believes it will be a good thing for the area.

Kemp also said he will not allow protesters to destroy the property.

The Atlanta Police Foundation CEO says lumber covers windows on the building housing the foundation’s offices, because they’ve been smashed in past protests against the project the foundation has coordinated, but he never doubted the project would move forward because it’s too important for Atlanta.

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“I think that would be a good thing for the city. And I think it will also be good for our state,” Gov. Kemp said. “So I’m very supportive of that. I’m glad that the mayor and the city council were successful and continuing the progress on the training center.”

Atlanta Police Foundation President and CEO Dave Wilkinson says while the Atlanta City Council’s 11-4 vote to approve funding for the new center on city-owned land in DeKalb County came after a long night, he’s lived the project for a long time as head of the organization that has spearheaded the effort to build it.

“I was thrilled, I was relieved, but I was also proud of our city. I was proud of the leaders of our city, our mayor, our city council members for working through all the noise, working through the opposition, and doing the right thing for our city,” Wilkinson said. “We spent several years coming up with the concept of building a public safety training center. Our role here was to work with the city in this partnership, design the best-in-class public safety training center and then go out and help raise the money to do that. And so we’ve gotten a lot of unnecessary attention. We certainly got a lot of criticism for this when ultimately all we’re trying to do is build a safer city.”

Wilkinson says at first it seemed simple - build a better training facility and build better outcomes for citizens and police in high-risk encounters and attract better candidates to become officers with a state-of-the-art parklike campus open to the community too.

“I am surprised that it has become so controversial because every citizen in the city of Atlanta wants the same two things: they want a safe community and they want good policing,” Wilkinson said.

Controversial may be putting it mildly.

The Atlanta Police Department confirms it’s investigating threats relating to the approval of funding for the new training center.


When asked if there was a message he wanted to send about whether the state will continue to take a strong position against domestic terrorism directed at the project, Gov. Kemp said, “Well, we absolutely are.”

The GBI says in recent months it’s led an investigation into dozens of alleged criminal acts tied to opposition to the new training center.

Channel 2′s Mark Winne spoke to Gov. Kemp who indicated state law enforcement would assist the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County in protecting the site while the training center is built.

“Well we have been and we’ll continue to be. My message to our local leaders and local men and women in law enforcement and their leadership is, you know, the state will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in these fights. You know, my frustration in years past was a lot of times we were on the frontlines and others were behind us. That’s not the case now, and I’m very pleased with that.”

Wilkinson says once it’s built, Atlanta police and firefighters will be able to train together regularly for the first time in decades.

“We need to build this center because we need the city of Atlanta to become a destination city for police officers and firefighters and where they want to work,” Wilkinson said.

“When the World Cup comes in 2026, it’ll be far bigger than even the Super Bowl from just a few years ago,” Gov. Kemp said. “So, you know, these kind of events deserve and should have the right kind of training.”

Wilkinson says the strong leadership of Mayor Andre Dickens has been key in all of this.

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