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Fulton County will offer alternative business program to teens in lieu of water-selling arrests

The police department has faced accusations of overreacting to complaints about the practice.

ATLANTA — The Fulton County Magistrate Court announced Thursday that in lieu of arrests for the unauthorized selling of bottled water, teens would be offered a diversionary six-week business program.

Around Atlanta, young people will often sell water at intersections to people in their cars when they're stopped at lights. According to Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, the practice is frequently the subject of complaints.

The police department has been criticized though when the issue rises to arrests, sending young people into the criminal justice system over selling water.

RELATED: Woman appears to call cops on 8-year-old girl selling water in viral video

The magistrate court now says it will offer the program to teens aged 17-19 which "develops business skills, customer service training and strategic business management, as well as offering pro-social and pro-entrepreneurial services."

The Atlanta Black Chambers program is known as "The Business Plan" and offers this structure outlined by the court:

  • 1st Week: Mentorship (getting to know the participant)
  • 2nd Week: The Art of Commerce (creative approaches encouraged)
  • 3rd Week: Developing a Business Plan/Model I (any business chosen by the participant)
  • 4th Week: Developing a Business Plan/Model II
  • 5th Week: Customer Service & Customer Retention
  • 6th Week: Business Plan Presentation

"Diverted misdemeanor and county ordinance cases must meet the same evidentiary and charging standards as those in which a citation or complaint is filed with the court. Judges will use their discretion to recommend program participants," a release said. "Successful completion of this program means all conditions of the Diversion Agreement have been met and all pending or prospective charges related to the underlying violation of law will be dismissed."

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