Identifying Policy Issue and Problem Statement


Identifying Policy Issue and Problem Statement

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Stakeholder #1

KB Dave is an owner of a few small businesses in District 5 around the Atlanta area and Decatur area. His main business is the jewelry shop that he has run for almost 24 years. He is a part of a few small business and local jewelry associations in the Decatur area in order to be involved and see how businesses are doing in the area and also understand what problems other owners are facing in the area.

For him, although the gold market is at an all-time high and business is going well, he worries about how other businesses will survive this pandemic. “I saw many of my friends close their shops because of COVID and so many people struggle, but I have hope everything will soon be over”. Although he is hopeful he still worries for some of the local businesses and wishes there were more policy changes and relief when it came to helping small businesses to survive. He also worries about issues like safety in the area. “Decatur is a safe area and Atlanta is safe in most areas, but I sometimes still worry for my safety and the safety of my shops”.  He mentioned the increase in street racing that started to occur more in the Atlanta area as well. This has been an ongoing issue since the summer and although it has died down since, it still occurs from time to time. He also feels that with public safety there has been a great number of break-ins, not just in residences but also in local businesses. A few years ago KB had his store broken into and just a few months ago there was another attempted break-in. He says that people are almost becoming more “creative” with their attempts by drilling holes on the roof of the building and such. Public safety is a “big issue” for him as he worries not only for his store but other businesses in the area that have had similar break-in attempts. He says “These are issues that need to be taken care of now” and has gone too long without anything being done. Businesses are already being greatly affected by the pandemic and the increase of break-ins is “only making things worse”. He feels like adding policy measures to increase public safety such as having better street lighting and having more security in the area can really be beneficial in increasing public safety for the businesses and the people that reside in the area.

Stakeholder #2

Brianna Harris is a 26 year old African American woman residing in the Grant Park neighborhood. Brianna is a political fundraiser and she operates her own fundraising and image consulting firm. Over the past two years she has lived there, Brianna has fallen in love with the Grant Park area.

During our sitdown, we discussed a myriad of issues she has seen in the community. Our conversation began discussing COVID and the precautions taken by the city of Atlanta. She openly expressed her disappointment with how our city has handled the situation. “ The restrictions were never enforced. In the beginning of quarantine, the city imposed a curfew for everyone to be in their homes, right? It was never enforced. Clubs have been wide open, events attended by the thousands have been allowed to happen in the city. Our city became a run-away train.” From these sentiments, I learned that Brianna wished Atlanta addressed COVID-19 with a stern approach being that this is the largest city in Georgia, and is susceptible to mass COVID outbreaks.

Next, we went to the topic of public safety throughout the community. Brianna expressed the need for community policing. “I think it would be effective if we had a positive relationship with law enforcement. We need to be able to trust the people who are supposed to serve us and not intimidate us.” We began to converse about this Instagram page called ATLSCOOP that allows us to send them videos, pictures, and any relevant information about car thefts, break-ins, robberies, and other prevalent dangers.

As a vehicle owner and constant driver, Brianna expressed her concerns about infrastructure and MARTA in the city of Atlanta. “The roads are HORRIBLE! There are just potholes every d*** where! You can’t avoid them and it adds to the wear and tear of your car.” I followed up and asked her opinions on MARTA. As a frequent visitor to New York City, Brianna drew comparisons and said that MARTA is completely outdated. Rails need to be expanded and there need to be more train routes than North/South & East/West.

Wrapping up our conversation, I challenged Brianna to assess her community and state what changes she would like to see in the community. “ The most pressing issue that I see, especially being a resident of Grant Park, is gentrification and affordable housing. It is disheartening to see people who have worked super hard and maintain the community being pushed out because of the rapid increase in the cost of living. AND speaking on the cost of living, the housing prices are too high, not only in the neighborhood, but all throughout the city of Atlanta. It needs to be addressed or we will see the homeless crisis in Atlanta continue to rise.”

Stakeholder #3

John Raimondi is a member of Saint Matthews Catholic Church, but also a senior commuting to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. Because he commutes, he has seen a lot of District Five’s issues that also relate with a lot of the same problems he faces at his church.

I asked him what he personally felt was the biggest problem he faced within his community of being a student and a member of the church. He mentioned the high rate of crime and how it affected him and the people around him. John felt like the high crime “deters growth for cities,” because, “people get too scared to go out when they have heard how bad crime like rape, kidnapping, and other petty crimes have gotten.” I thought that was an interesting point, so I wanted to understand how that personally affected him. He brought to my attention that a lot of his other classmates do not want to meet up outside of class to work on projects because trying to find a time that works for everyone is usually either really early or really late when it is dark. “The night time economy of Atlanta and the influx of crime makes it hard to find a good place for my other students and I to feel safe to work together.”  He also brought up the riots we had over the summer in Atlanta. Even though school for him was completely online, he said that was another deterrent in meeting up and trying to do work with other students. John also said that his church was affected similarly. “Less people showed up because of the videos they had seen online of shootings in churches.” While he acknowledged COVID-19 was a factor in less people showing up to things in person for 2020, he also thinks having churches available now to watch online helped the fear of COVID-19, but also of shootings and crime happening while attending church.

After I thought I had a good understanding of his experiences and his problems he faced within the community, I wanted to know what he thought would be a good approach in trying to face these issues. John thought more police presence would be a good first step in deterring a lot of crime, but also making members of the community feel safer. He thought more of his peers may be willing to go out and do things in person again, while still being mindful of their surroundings and safety.

Stakeholder #4

Dennis George is a resident in District 5 who works remotely as a vice president of loss prevention to the company Ross Stores Inc. Having lived in Georgia his entire life, and in his condo in Atlanta for 4 years, Dennis had much to say regarding public safety in his community. He is well educated on the subject, considering his job revolves around security and protection. I spoke to him about an overall change he would like to see and he drew attention to people owning up to their job responsibilities before things turn bad, “Everyday issues I would like to change regard more specifics around public restrictions in the neighborhood. Also, I would like people to own their jobs/responsibilities with enforcing rules and not wait to be pressured to do so. For example, speeding and noise ordinances should be enforced more consistently.” In regards to safety, I asked him how he felt about his current protection, “Yes, I do believe I am being provided with decent measures. I think the police do the best they can, but could use more training in de-escalation measures. We also need more officers and others to support them. Crime is increasing and police response is often too slow. For example, cars are being broken into almost daily in the garage and almost nothing is being done in response. The property owners refuse to take any responsibility or meet with residents for a productive discussion.”

To further his point, he went on to say that he is trying to sell his property, however because of the high crime rate it is difficult to make a profit doing so now, “Personal challenges for me would be currently trying to sell a piece of real estate in an area that over the past couple of years has become more unsafe. The higher crime activity has stilted the appreciation of the real estate values. “An area of focus he kept talking about would be the police force, he thinks training should change and that more support is needed. That would create a huge change in his mind, Dennis stated “I want to see more police officers, and training to help them disarm verbally ( verbal judo). More supervision is also necessary. For schools, I am ok with metal detectors being added. We live in a different world today and we need to make adjustments. With no help from the federal government, states should take the lead. Without question, assault weapons should be strictly controlled and owners checked and monitored.”

Stakeholder #5

Iman Ali is a public health professional based in Decatur, GA. She is currently working virtually from home as a coordinator for a sexual and reproductive health international organization. Throughout our interview, Iman explained her concerns on the many unmet needs in her community, specifically in regard to public health- “I learned very early on in my training that the majority of deaths and illness we face are preventable, but the problem that’s not being addressed enough is the large number of social determinants that cause ailments within a community. All these determinants can be properly mitigated by those in public service through policy initiatives- but there’s a lack of prioritization to these issues.” Iman talked about her un-shockingly disappointment in the community and Georgia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, such as how people were challenging public health safety measures because it affected their personal day to day life and finances. She could not fathom the claim made on violating individual rights and how the weakening of the economy was put over the safety of the public- especially when it came to a virus that rapidly claimed so many lives and made no inclination to stop spreading any time soon.

One of the biggest components of public safety is the communication involved in ensuring awareness of prevalent issues. I asked Iman what her thoughts were on the spreading of information via social media and if that could be a way to promote public safety. She talked about her dilemma in wanting to take part in the George Floyd protests but could not ignore it as an opportunity for the virus to spread immensely throughout her community. However, she was pleased with the initiatives taken from the power of unity and social media. “From this

challenge, came the birth of digital media advocacy because hundreds of thousands of

individuals took to their Instagram and Twitter pages to apply pressure on local governments

regarding the issues of racial injustice, just like those who were marching but this way, we

found a way that was suitable for the pandemic, especially for those at higher risk to falling

prey to the virus.”

Lastly, I asked Iman what changes she wants to see in her community when it came to public safety and she articulacy responded how she believed there being more empathy within a community can be led to sustainable solutions. To further elaborate, she mentioned a very relevant topic: police brutality. “A lot of the narrative is never about why the victim was acting in whatever way he was to cause a police officer to react so violently- it’s always the victim who should have never done this or shouldn’t have done that. If there was more empathy in this conversation, we would be asking questions on why this person is acting in such a way?” This perspective made me realize that it’s not that humans are naturally violent people, but we have been socialized that way, and as noted in policy analysis, taking a step back and seeing the root of a problem is essential.


Public safety is a major concern of the people that reside and are a part of District 5.. Public safety issues can range from break-ins and thief to issues surrounding law enforcement and violence.  These issues exist all over the district and affect a magnitude of individuals from residents, businesses, students, and commuters. Public safety issues have always been prevalent, but with the escalation of the political climate and certain issues, as well as the pandemic, public safety is more fragile now. With policy changes that focus on helping communities within the district tackle issues and have more preventative measures, it can ensure the people within the district feel safe and at peace. With policy changes such as increasing street lights in residential areas and businesses, changes in law enforcement training, and increasing safety measures in schools, communities will have a decrease in crime and safety concerns. The measures implemented can vary based on the city’s needs, but advocacy and changes must be made.


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