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New security cameras not installed in Atlanta city parks five months after Piedmont Park murder

The ordinance that tasked APD and Parks and Rec. with evaluating, developing and eventually implementing surveillance cameras in 20 city-owned parks, was passed in August 2021.
Updated: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:30 PM EST
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ATLANTA (CBS46) — In the wake of the unsolved murder of Katie Janness and her dog, Bowie, at Piedmont Park last summer, the Atlanta City Council approved legislation to address safety measures in city parks.

That was in August 2021. Atlanta’s City Council tasked the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation with evaluating, developing and eventually implementing surveillance cameras in 20 city-owned parks, including Piedmont Park.

According to a timeline that was presented to City Council, installation was slated to begin in January 2022. CBS46 Investigates has learned that hasn’t happened yet.

Our CBS46 investigation started out with a simple request to Atlanta Police, asking for public documents, including bids or quotes, associated with the installation of surveillance cameras at Piedmont Park.

APD told us we’d have to reach out to Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation. Atlanta Department of Parks and Rec. told us we’d have to reach out to Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit which manages the park. And, Piedmont Park Conservancy sent us right back to APD.

That’s when we began reaching out to Atlanta City Council members to find out who is overseeing this effort.

“You should not have gotten the run around on open record requests from either department. They should’ve responded because they have done work. They work collaboratively because they reported to the committee collaboratively on the effort,” said Atlanta City Councilman, Michael J. Bond, Post 1 At-Large.

Councilman Michael Bond is talking about a September public safety committee meeting in which APD and Parks and Rec. presented findings, that also highlighted crime statistics in city parks from 2018 through September 2021.

Atlanta City Park Data
Atlanta City Park Data(Rachel Polansky)

Robert W. Woodruff Park had the most violent crimes with 23, followed by Rosa L. Burney with 16. South Bend, Grant and Piedmont Parks all had 11 violent crimes.

No suspects have been publicly identified in the July 2021 stabbing death of 40-year-old Katie Janness at Piedmont Park.

Just a few days earlier, police responded to the shooting death of 17-year-old Ja’Kari Dillard at Anderson Park.

“It’s like after that report, absolutely nothing’s been done,” Councilman Bond added.

CBS46 investigative reporter, Rachel Polansky, took those concerns directly to APD, who denied the claims, telling her they had begun evaluating and developing security plans.

APD Chief Rodney Bryant would acknowledge though, that a funding source has yet to be identified by APD or Parks and Rec.

“When you’re talking about two different departments when the budget is already set, both of us have to have some conversation,” Chief Bryant said.

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant holds a news conference on July 1, 2021, to discuss a...
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant holds a news conference on July 1, 2021, to discuss a shooting that injured an officer.(WRDW)

We also asked him about APD’s progress in re-hiring retired officers to patrol city parks – another ordinance that was passed by City Council, last year.

“We have a stagnant list of people. It’s a matter of us addressing that funding and seeing if people are still willing to come back and work,” Chief Bryant added.

When Polansky asked Chief Bryant who the lead was on this parks security plan, he said “Clearly, parks would have to be the lead on it. We will be providing the security to the parks.”

The ordinance that tasked APD and Parks and Rec. with completing a joint study to determine the funding for the re-hiring retired officers to patrol city parks was passed in June 2021.

The ordinance that tasked APD and Parks and Rec. with evaluating, developing and eventually implementing surveillance cameras in 20 city-owned parks, was passed in August 2021.

As the weeks and months pass by, Councilman Bond grows more impatient.

“I’m really disappointed we haven’t seen more from both Parks and APD, in this specific effort,” Councilman Bond added.

Councilman Bond also pointed to park improvement funds, as a possible funding source.

The Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation tells CBS46 Investigates that our initial record requests “went to various departments,” adding that “the Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of implementing its Security Plan.” We are still waiting to find out when installation will begin.

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