First Responders

Phase 1 of Operation Phoenix Completed in Atlanta, the Progress So Far

October 30, 2020Joshua Skovlund
atlanta police

Atlanta Police officers close to burning vehicles during the riots following the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Screen grab from youtube.

Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker, Atlanta Police Department Interim Chief Rodney Bryant, and US Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak announced the preliminary results of the ongoing Operation Phoenix during a Thursday press conference.  

The multiagency operation identified 12 people that officials believe to be the most violent offenders in Atlanta, Georgia. After joint investigations, charges were relayed to Pak, who brought federal charges against most of the individuals. 

“We believe this initiative will slow the violence, and we also believe it should serve as a strong deterrent for anyone in the city who’s contemplating participating in any violent crime activities,” said Hacker. “The bottom line is there will be consequences for committing violent crimes in Atlanta, and where we believe that it’s necessary and warranted, we will do everything in our power to bring federal charges to the United State’s Attorney’s Office to seek penalties at the federal level.” 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker during the press conference on Thursday. Screenshot from YouTube.

The operation started on Aug. 18, 2020, to combat rising violent crime in Atlanta, which experienced more homicides in the month of July than many of the previous years, according to Bryant. He explained that as the operation produced more arrests, the rate of violent crime started to decrease. 

Operation Phoenix is a sustained and systematic effort conducted by the FBI Atlanta Division, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the US Secret Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the US Attorneys Office, and the Atlanta Police Department. 

During the press conference, Hacker said that Thursday’s announcement isn’t the end of Operation Phoenix. The first phase is completed, and phase two will continue to identify the most prominent violent crime offenders and bring them to justice. 

Pak explained that from October 2017 until mid-2020, 228 offenders were identified as being responsible for increasing violent crime in Atlanta. Of those 228, federal charges have so far been filed against 212 of them. This group of violent offenders accumulated a total of 5,600 Georgia state charges — 1,200 of those related to violent crime and firearm offenses — which led to a total of 2,100 arrests and resulted in 1,500 state convictions. 

US airmen with the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Security Forces Squadron stand with City of Atlanta SWAT team members preparing to conduct area presence patrols to enforce a curfew during ongoing civil unrest near Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, June 4, 2020. US Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons.

Out of the 228 offenders, 92 have been convicted and the rest are awaiting trial. The data research partner of the Northern District of Georgia US Attorney’s Office conservatively estimated that the imprisonment of these violent offenders prevented or avoided 2,300 crimes that would otherwise have been committed. In a more aggressive estimate, as many as 5,100 different crimes were prevented or avoided. 

This was accomplished, Pak said, despite the lack of cooperation from one major local district attorney. He went on to say that factors like the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in Atlanta directly related to the increase in violent crime. He noted that a premature decision to charge officers contributed to attacks on police officers there, and everything combined to stretch the resources of the Atlanta Police Department as well as destroy morale among APD officers. 

“The men and women of APD, I heard that their morale is low and their resources have been stretched very thin, which resulted in [an] overall decrease in enforcement in our communities,” said Pak. “So there’s really no surprise when the city’s murder rate significantly exceeded the previous years and the violent crime rates are increasing. […] Our primary focus must be to protect the people.” 

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
Coffee Or Die Photo
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
military pilots cancer rates
Higher Cancer Rates Found in Military Pilots, Ground Crews

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft b...

March 20, 2023Associated Press
whiskey pour
Veterans Lead the Way Among America’s Growing Craft Distilleries

American veterans are taking the lessons they learned in the military and changing the craft distilling industry.

March 20, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved