Opening with Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s inspirational rallying cry to “stop and dismantle” criminal street gangs, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association’s Metro Atlanta Gang Intelligence Meeting, held on April 10, 2019, at the Georgia World Congress Center, hosted hundreds of law enforcement partners from Metro Atlanta and beyond. GGIA President James “Jimmy” Callaway and Director of Education and Training Ray Ham, the driving forces behind the conference, called the session to further the development of cutting-edge strategies to combat Georgia’s Gang Crisis. Demonstrating his commitment to this cause, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr not only addressed the audience, he attended the entire conference.
The overwhelming interest in GGIA’s program underscores three interconnected truisms that portend far beyond gang investigation and prosecution:
- Gangs and gang crime represent the single greatest public safety threat to the Peach State;
- Georgia’s electorate recognizes that Georgia is in a state of crisis when it comes to gangs and gang crime; and
- Georgians have vociferously, unequivocally, and collectively called for forceful and far-reaching action to rid our state of the menacing scourge of criminal gangs.
Georgia’s 2018 statewide election provides explicit proof. When it came to the two most powerful positions in Georgia state government, Governor and Attorney General, the prevailing candidates ran on compelling and aggressive anti-gang platforms. Governor Kemp and Attorney General Carr’s victories demonstrate that the majority of Georgians want their government officials to employ decisive and vigorous measures to protect them from gangs.
Simply put, when given the choice, Georgia voters endorsed those candidates who publicly recognized the size, scope, and magnitude of America and Georgia’s gang crisis and articulated the most powerful plans to defeat that danger, once and for all.
The spirit of this reality was pervasive in the atmosphere at GGIA’s April 10, 2019 conference. It was clearly reflected in quoted material presented at the outset of the program from not only Governor Kemp and Attorney General Carr, but also from Southern District of Georgia United States Attorney Bobby Christine and these Authors. Comments to the audience from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds and new GBI hire, former Cobb gang prosecutor Jaret Usher, imparted further evidence of this important impetus as well.
Undeniably, then, focusing Georgia law enforcement and prosecution on contending with the over 70,000 gang members—50,000 of which are housed in Metro Atlanta—who victimize this state and the people within it is not some new, novel, or passing law enforcement trend. Likewise, overpowering Georgia’s Gang Crisis is not a perfunctory political platitude or bureaucratic “box-checking” behest.
Instead, stopping and dismantling gangs is an indisputable mandate, commanded by millions of votes cast by the people of Georgia. That imperative must be heeded by Georgia’s federal, state, and local officials regardless of political persuasion, quam celerrime. Public safety priorities and principles of representative democracy have incontestably converged to demand leaders undertake dedicated, dynamic measures to end Georgia’s Gang Crisis without delay.
The leadership in attendance at Georgia’s Gang Investigators Association’s Metro Atlanta Gang Intelligence Meeting certainly appeared dedicated to accomplishing this vital task and heeding Georgia voters’ resonating call to arms against gangs.
John Melvin is the acting District Attorney for the Cobb Judicial Circuit in Marietta, Georgia. Michael Scott “Mike” Carlson serves as his Chief Assistant District Attorney. Both are published legal authors and routinely participate in training programs for law enforcement and prosecution sponsored by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association.