Editor’s Note: Sandy Springs Together periodically publishes letters or comments from community members who raise a concern we feel should be considered by the broader community.
By Melody Kelley
I was pleased to learn that part of the Sandy Springs Police Department’s (SSPD) nearly $23 million dollar annual budget gets poured back into the community through programs like the Citizens Police Academy (CPA), Citizens on Patrol (COPS), and a range of other volunteer and training programs.
I recently took advantage of SSPD’s nine-week CPA course – the first cohort since COVID disrupted operations. Held on Tuesday evenings, I and 12 eager members of the community gathered in person (socially distanced, of course) for an intimate and in-depth look at where much of that $23 million dollars is spent.
I highly recommend this experience to all residents of Sandy Springs and here are 3 reasons why:
- The Information: Did you know that Sandy Springs has one of the few full-service police departments in the area? Or that our Belgian Malinois K-9s actually come from Belgium? Each week is jammed-packed with facts, figures, and hands-on learning experiences. You even get to fight crime (virtually) in a Firearm Training Simulator (F.A.T.S.).
- The Ride-Along: The CPA experience isn’t complete without the much-anticipated ride-along. Each participant gets to choose their preferred shift in the patrol unit. While those who long for action opted for evenings, I chose a quiet Saturday morning because above all else, I desired conversation and connection. I split my shift between the North and South districts getting to know officers Davis and Sangster, respectively. I walked away feeling fortunate to have officers that care about the community they serve and wondering how 6 hours passed so quickly.
- The Dialogue: The CPA offers weekly access to the leaders in our department. But it also offers a safe space to interact with them. From social justice to the personal lives of officers, no conversation was off-limits. Questions were encouraged and addressed in a tone that I can only describe as professional transparency.
- Bonus Reason: Chief DeSimone’s (corny) jokes- have you heard the one about his zipper? HILARIOUS!
In our current hyper-political climate, the value of programs like the SSPD’s Citizen Police Academy cannot be overstated. I entered the program with a combination of curiosity and frustration as it relates to law enforcement. I left with a stronger sense of community.
For more information, please reach out to Sgt. Mendel Stafford, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new year is (finally) right around the corner.
Let’s face it: this year wasn’t the greatest. For many, this was the most challenging and unstable year of their lives.
As we all reflect on this past year, take some time to pay respect to all who lost their lives this year and keep their loved ones in your thoughts.
Equally, it’s also important to say thank you to all of the essential workers who risked their lives every single day to serve and protect our community. We will never forget.
Though this year was undoubtedly dark, we must keep our spirits bright and look forward to what a new year can bring us.
If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that a lot can change in just a single year.
We’re more confident than ever that if we continue to work together and support each other through difficult times, 2021 can be the best year yet.
In fact, things are already looking up!
We’ve seen our city come together like never before through volunteering, help from non-profit organizations, action from the city and so many simple, but important, acts of kindness from neighbors and members of the community.
We look forward to the day when we can all safely get back out into the community and shop the incredible local businesses we love and dine-in at our favorite restaurants.
If we all continue to do our part, that day will be here before we know it. But, until then — continue to stay safe and follow safety guidelines. We can do this.
Holiday blessings to you and yours!
Today marks the beginning of Hanukkah, a joyous eight-day celebration for so many right here in Sandy Springs, around our country, and across the globe.
Whether or not you join in the celebration of Hanukkah this year, we wanted to share a quick reflection with you, in light of the challenging year we have all faced.
Did you know that Hanukkah translates to “dedication” in Hebrew? We found this translation to be especially fitting as we reflect on the year that has been.
So many dedicated essential workers put their lives on the line to keep us safe, healthy and informed this past year. Their sacrifice will never go unnoticed, nor will it be forgotten.
And while it isn’t much, we just wanted to say thank you.
Thank you to the dedicated nurses, doctors, EMS workers and first responders who found themselves on the frontlines of our country’s response to this pandemic…
…to the dedicated hospital housekeepers and sanitation workers for doing incredible work in keeping hospitals as clean and healthy as possible…
…to the dedicated medical technicians and pharmacy technicians for helping to make sure our medical offices kept running as efficiently as possible…
…to the dedicated grocery store cashiers, delivery personnel and stock clerks for making sure we were all able to keep our families safe and healthy at home…
…and to the dedicated senior caregivers and bus drivers for helping to take care of our most vulnerable populations.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you have done, are doing and will do.
We are forever grateful for your dedication this year and always.
Happy Hanukkah, everyone. Blessings to you and yours.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we want to take a moment to thank all our first responders, healthcare providers, grocery clerks, bus drivers, teachers and others who have been on the front lines this past year helping to keep our community working and keeping us safe, our shelves well stocked and our community healthy.
We also want to thank our Mayor and City Council for their leadership by getting out in front of the pandemic in August and issuing a mask mandate in public spaces. We are also grateful to the city allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars of CARES Act funds to our local non-profits who are caring for our neighbors experiencing extreme hardships due to COVID-19.
And we’re sending thanks to the legions of volunteers and donors who have supported all of the food distribution and rent assistance programs offered throughout the city by our untiring non-profits such as Community Assistance Center, Los Niños Primero, Sandy Springs Mission and Solidarity.
There are literally thousands of people who donated their time or money.
To all of you, we appreciate your dedication and efforts to keep our city healthy, safe, and functioning.
Did you know that 43% of renters in Sandy Springs are paying more than 30% of their income on housing?
These affordable housing issues ARE ALSO racial equity issues because 40% of our population is non-white, and many of our neighbors who live in apartment communities are struggling to make their rent payments.
Since the lack of economic mobility stems from the lack of affordable housing, Sandy Springs Together has been advocating to correct this relationship. This past Thursday, Oct. 8, we hosted our first ever Candidate Forum to discuss these important issues in our community.
This forum was moderated by award-winning journalist Donna Lowry, and featured candidates from each state house district that represents Sandy Springs.
The biggest way YOU can make an impact right now is to VOTE!
This is the most important Election Year to date, so we would encourage you to take the time to watch the Candidate Forum and get a more informed idea of who to vote for.
It is rare to get 90 minutes of detailed discussion on a single “hot topic” issue from these busy people, so we cannot thank them enough.
Rep. Matt Wilson, Rep. Josh McLaurin, Candidate Shea Roberts, and Candidate Sara Tindall Ghazal provided incredible insight into their platforms and plans in regards to 3 major areas:
- State funding for affordable housing
- Protecting existing safe, decent affordable housing
- The referenda on the current ballot as they relate to affordable housing
Please take the time to listen to their thoughts and ideas on how the state can support cities in taking action to make housing more affordable for families of all income ranges.
This is a golden opportunity to find out which candidate deserves your vote.