Documents shared with the Atlanta Community Press Collective from an open records request show that 43% of trainees for the proposed Cop City police training facility would come from outside of Georgia. The documents is a community impact survey from Cop City lender Cadence Bank that Ryan Smith, the Program Manager at the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), sent to James McLemore and Fred Watson in November 2022.
The APF’s plan to recruit out-of-state trainees to the facility means that the project goes well beyond APF’s intention to “[i]mprove morale, retention, recruitment and training for APD and AFR professionals“. Instead, Cop City would likely function as a national and international training center where law enforcement agencies from different states, and possibly countries, would develop and share violent policing tactics, the likes of which have, most recently, led to the deaths of Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols, and Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran.
Opponents of the Cop City movement have expressed little doubt that the mock city slated to be built in the facility would also train law enforcement agencies across the country in tactics to suppress protest, as Atlanta residents saw following Rayshard Brooks’ death in 2020 and recently in the Weelaunee Forest. If enacted, the APF’s plans to train out-of-state law enforcement in these tactics would mean that police militarization in Atlanta would spread more quickly to other cities and states.
Multiple police agencies and media outlets have attempted to condemn some Cop City protestors as “outside agitators,” levying egregious state-level domestic terrorism charges against them. The high rate of out-of-state trainees anticipated for Cop City shows, however, that the fight to Stop Cop City is not just a local struggle.