ATLANTA — A landmark deal to move forward with the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center with protections for the community and forest has been reached in principle between the City of Atlanta, DeKalb County, and the Atlanta Police Foundation, according to a source familiar with the negotiation, who spoke with Channel 2′s Mark Winne.
The agreement was officially announced Tuesday afternoon.
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The training center for Atlanta police and fire would be on city-owned land, which is located off Key Road in DeKalb County. The Atlanta Police Foundation has been raising money to fund it.
The training center has been the focus of intense controversy. On one side, it would improve the relationship between police and the community with better training, including training that would produce better outcomes in potentially violent encounters between police and suspects. The opposition has come from environmentalists concerned about trees on the site, others are concerned about noise in the community, and others are opposed to growing the law enforcement footprint in society.
For decades, the Atlanta police firing range and bomb disposal range have been located nearby.
“The training center will sit on land that has long been cleared of hardwood trees through previous uses of this site decades ago,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said Tuesday.
The training facility will take up approximately 85 acres of land, but leave the remaining approximately 300 acres of the lot as untouched greenspace.
Dickens also said that developers have promised to replace any hardwood tree destroyed during construction with 100 more.
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The controversy about the site peaked when Manuel Teran, who friends called Tortuguita, died after being shot by Georgia State Patrol troopers during a raid on Jan. 18. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Teran fired a gun at a trooper without warning and critically injured him.
Friends and fellow protesters of Teran have repeatedly claimed to Channel 2 Action News that they were peacefully protesting. They have questioned the GBI’s version of events.
The GBI said during a multi-agency operation that began that day at the future training center site, approximately 25 campsites were located and removed, and mortar-style fireworks, multiple-edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch were recovered.
The GBI said seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass. Of the seven, none were from metro Atlanta.
The following Saturday, an additional six people were arrested after a protest in downtown Atlanta turned violent. Of the six, only one was from metro Atlanta.
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