The state of Georgia is equipped with over six hundred (600) law enforcement agencies
These agencies range in jurisdiction from city to state level, including city police, county police, county sheriff departments, county marshal agencies, transit authority police, and state agencies.
To begin with, state agencies have jurisdiction on a state level, and each agency has a specific responsibility relating to the safety and security of the citizens of Georgia regarding law enforcement. For instance, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) assists other state and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of criminal activity, including forensic investigation and criminal information resources. The Georgia Department of Public Safety is the agency responsible for all law enforcement and public safety on a statewide level, while the Georgia Department of Revenue manages all matters involving taxation and alcohol and tobacco products in the state.
Because Atlanta is by far Georgia’s biggest city, its Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is representative of a huge portion of the state’s services, and thus has its own transit authority police, an agency called MARTA Police. This agency is responsible for the safety of MARTA passengers against any crimes and danger that become present on the state maintained transit’s property.
Local government begins with county marshal agencies, of which there are twelve in the state of Georgia. County marshals primarily govern civil processes and the peace keeping process of the county. They also handle ordinance enforcement, court security, and the security of various county government buildings. Most marshal offices consist of administrative positions as well as some policing and security personnel. They are the final authority on all county law enforcement matters, but the level of responsibility varies from county to county.
County police agencies are unique from sheriff departments in that they’re responsible for more specific law enforcement duties that relate directly to citizens and their safety, rather than maintaining jails and county offices. Every county has both departments, but some sheriffs relinquish authority over law enforcement to the county police, while this isn’t a requirement. The nuances of their individual duties can differ from county to county.
City police, on the other hand, have a more specific jurisdiction than county and state departments. They are limited by their cities, and are responsible solely for the law enforcement of the municipality in which they operate. Their specialty is the enforcement of city-specific laws along with state and federal laws, and many of these police departments are responsible for maintaining city-specific jails in addition to their other responsibilities..
The city with the biggest police department, and with the most criminal activity, is by far Atlanta, hosting over fifty-four percent of Georgia’s overall crime. With a majority of felonies and violent crimes located in poorer, urban areas of Atlanta, more Atlanta police departments have been established in the last one hundred years to combat the rise in crime in these regions. Between the years 2001 and 2009, crime rates in Atlanta dropped by roughly forty percent, and this is due to the many efforts by state and local agencies focused in this city.
However, while crime rates have dropped drastically in the past two decades, homicide rates in Atlanta have increased since 2001. Many believe the reason to be an increase in gang activity, while others attribute this to a rise in prostitution and human trafficking. As Atlanta’s international travel presence has increased via airport expansion, Atlanta has become a hub for traffickers of every kind. In addition to gang violence and trafficking, Atlanta’s recent growth has created more urban and metropolitan areas throughout the state as commuters become attracted to the area, increasing the population within a broader radius of the city.
With a higher population comes an increase in crime, although most of the state wades the national crime average per capita. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the state of Georgia are one (1) in two hundred sixty (260), which is just below the national median. Such crimes, as well as others like DUI’s and shoplifting, are taken extremely seriously in the state.
For instance, once a person has been convicted of a DUI or a DWI, that charge remains on said individual’s record for life, which is in contrast to other states that allow for means of expungement after a certain period of time and penance. Shoplifting charges are met with immediate arrest and required educational courses, and sometimes counseling sessions are required to evaluate the emotional and mental state of duress in these criminals. Violent crimes like armed robbery are taken even more seriously, with maximum penalties exceeding twenty years of imprisonment.
Booking and Bail Procedures
The booking and bail procedures for these crimes differ according to charges, and usually follow similar procedures to the ones outlined here.
Step one: Once a person has been arrested and charges have been filed, said suspect is then booked, and a record of the arrest is completed including taking fingerprints and filing paperwork.
Step two: Depending on the severity of the charges, a bail is either set directly or the suspect awaits a bail hearing where a judge will determine bail.
Step three: Once bail has been set, the suspect can choose to contact loved ones and have them pay bail in full directly, which will be refunded once proceedings have been completed, or pay a non-refundable percentage of the bail to a bail bondsman who will pay bond in full so the suspect may be released until a trial is performed.
This is the standard procedure for booking and bail, but it’s recommended to contact a family member or trusted friend as soon as possible, and legal council is recommended. Each case will be unique according to the law set forth for the charges filed, and every suspect has the right to seek professional legal council before proceeding past the booking process.