Construction underway at Atlanta’s planned public safety training center

On Monday, construction crews were on site in DeKalb County, indicating the start of the physical development of Atlanta’s 85-acre public safety training center
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:39 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Monday, construction crews were on site in DeKalb County, indicating the start of the physical development of Atlanta’s 85-acre public safety training center.

The City of Atlanta has owned the property in DeKalb County since 1918; it was used as a prison farm until 1995.

Mayor Andre Dickens and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond signed off on land disturbance permits last week, greenlighting the construction process.

RELATED: A timeline of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center

“We share DeKalb County’s commitment to environmental protection and economic development, and are proud that this training facility will serve those needs,” said Mayor Dickens, in a press release.

“Community input has been vital in reaching these commitments, and we will continue to engage the community so that this center not only serves our public safety needs but becomes a true community asset for Atlanta and DeKalb County residents alike,” Dickens continued.

Atlanta News First reached out to the Atlanta Police Department on the status of the project. A spokesperson responded, “We don’t have any additional information to release at this time.”

Earlier in the day, the family of an activist who died at the training center site held a press conference outside the DeKalb County Courthouse.

RELATED: Hundreds honor activist who died in shootout at future site of training center

“We are living a horror,” said Belkis Teran, the mother of Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

“It is a social shame that this happened. All Manual wanted to do was to protect the forest,” said Teran.

According to state investigators, Manuel Teran, 26, fired first, injuring a state trooper, during a clearing operation in mid-January.

Atlanta News First inquired about the status of the trooper on Monday but did not get a response from a Georgia State Patrol spokesperson.

RELATED: Trooper hospitalized, one person dead after shooting at future site of police training facility

Teran’s lawyers said the family is seeking a sit-down meeting with Michael Register, the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The family also would like to see anybody’s camera or drone footage along and/or audio recordings connected to the clearing operation.

“Whatever happened in the forest - this family deserves to know,” said Jeff Filipovits, one of the lawyer’s representing the Teran family.

On Monday, the GBI confirmed a state task force conducted a clearing operation to remove illegal campers ahead of the start of construction.

RELATED: What’s next for ‘Stop Cop City’ movement after weekend vandalism

A spokesperson said it was the first clearing operation since the shooting on January 18.

There were no arrests on Monday, according to a GBI spokesperson.

On Monday, despite the start of construction, some critics of so-called ‘Cop City’ said they are not stopping their opposition to the development of the project.

“People are going to protest. They’re going to do civil disobedience and direct action, and they supposedly have a right to do it,” said Kamau Franklin, founder of Community Movement Builders.

“The same people who they say they love doctor king who was involved in civil disobedience and direct action, are the same people now charging these folks with domestic terrorism.”