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Midtown, downtown, O4W will pilot new program to curb petty crime

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A grant has been established for an arrest diversion program to help those down on their luck in the heart of the city

Peachtree-Pine, with downtown’s skyline beyond.
The everlasting Peachtree-Pine shelter is notorious among neighbors for crime.
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The heart of Atlanta, like any city, has its share of petty crime. Loitering. Disorderly conduct. Public urination. These sorts of things.

But the cost to arrest and process those who pose no serious threat to the community uses resources that could be better leveraged.

In an attempt to free up Atlanta police officers, cut down on often unnecessary incarcerations and the clogging of overcrowded jail cells, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District has released a $50,000 grant to help start the Atlanta-Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative.

The program is intended to “improve public safety and quality of life in Midtown, the Old Fourth Ward and South Downtown while providing a pathway to recovery and support for individuals struggling with mental health, substance addiction or extreme poverty,” according to the president of Central Atlanta Progress and ADID, A.J. Robinson.

Many of those the program is hoping to help include homeless residents in the city who are merely caught in bad situations on the streets.

Hopes are that the program will help divert 100 people from jail, instead providing them with social services such as drug treatment, mental health assistance, housing, and job placement programs.

“Instead of arrest, a Care Navigator will come directly to the scene to determine the services the person needs,” reads a press release on the initiative.

By providing these resources, rather than repetitive arrests, the program could reduce homelessness and petty crime, leaders say.

The program launches this summer. If successful, it could be implemented in other Atlanta neighborhoods.