A rendering of the planned 85-acre Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. (Atlanta Police Foundation)

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond issued an executive order Friday afternoon closing Intrenchment Creek Park due to “dangerous and possible life-threatening conditions.”

Thurmond said the park, which has been a flashpoint for demonstrations and confrontations between activists and law enforcement over the construction of Atlanta’s new public safety training center, is potentially full of hidden traps.

During an afternoon press conference, Thurmond said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found traps, including boards covered with nails, around the park and believe there could be more.

“We take this very serious action because we know there are dangers that have been discovered in this area and we are afraid that there might be other hidden traps that will not only injure and maim but could literally become deadly for children, pets and others,” Thurmond said.

He said DeKalb officials have been blocked from doing their own inspection of the site by activists. “When we sent out employees they were attacked with rocks and other objects,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond’s executive order came the same day that Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced the members of the new South River Forest and Public Safety Training Center Community Task Force, which will provide input on the development of the training center and surrounding land.

The more than 40 members of the new task force are to be divided into four subgroups to make recommendations on parks and greenspace; memorializing, and repurposing the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site; sustainability; and coming up with the police, fire and E-911 training curriculum.

The group is set to begin meeting in April and make recommendations to the mayor in July. More information is at www.atltrainingcenter.com. The Atlanta Police Foundation is in charge of developing and building the facility.

The new task force members are:

Gerald Griggs, attorney and president of the Georgia NAACP

Bishop Kevin Strickland of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

Blake Fortune, community member

Bonita Johnson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Christopher Bruce, director of Policy and Advocacy, ACLU of Georgia

Cicely Garrett, community member

David Paull, CompostNow

Donna Stephens, organizer to save Chattahoochee Brick Company

Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 

Dr. Bryant Marks, AUC staff and associate professor of psychology at Morehouse College

Dr. Gerald Durley, former pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta and climate change activist

Dr. LaToria Whitehead, LS White Group and teaches at Spelman College

Dr. Rashad Richey, radio personality

Dr. Volkan Topalli,professor of Criminal Justice at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University

Dr. Yomi Noibi, Eco Action

George Dusenbury, Georgia director for Trust for Public Land

Greta G. deMayo, PATH Foundation Creator

Janese Coleman, community member

Jay Bassett, retired from the EPA

Jill Savitt, president and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Leo Smith, political consultant

Lewis Woodson, community activist and park advocate

Linda Adams, community member

Lisa Tuttle, board member of Arts Xchange

Lynnette Reid, director of Planning for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

Marc Bolden, community member

Michael Halicki, executive director of Park Pride

Michelle Blackmon, executive director of the Grant Park Conservancy

Monica Thornton, executive director of The Nature Conservancy

Nina Cutler, community member

Rabbi Peter Berg, senior rabbi at The Temple

John Prevost, retired Georgia State Patrol officer and community member

Rev. Gary Burke, pastor of Lakewood Church of Hope

Robbie Hunter, president of Graymont Drive Neighborhood Association

Sabir Khan, artist

Samyukth Shenbaga, manager of Atlanta Regional Commission’s Community Development division

Samuel Bacote, community member

Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center

Stacy Funderburke of The Conservation Club

Susan Evans of Atlanta Housing

Tsedey Betru, BeTru Consulting

Morieka Johnson, community member

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our vital public safety needs and establish the largest park the city of Atlanta would own,” Mayor Dickens said in a news release.

“I want the community at the head of the table, sharing their expertise and aspirations. I look forward to receiving recommendations which will continue to inform the training center and the parks, trails and community spaces our communities can be proud of,” he said.

The controversial training center is being built on 85-acres of city-owned land in the South River Forest in Dekalb County. Opponents of the training center call it “Cop City” because of the massive size of the facility and because it will include a “mock city” for police training.

Numerous protests have taken place at the site and dozens of people arrested in police sweeps. A Georgia State Patrol officer was wounded during a January raid of the forest, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that also resulted in the fatal shooting of environmental activist Manuel Terán.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.