Buckhead Public Safety Task Force Issues Final Report, Plan to Halt Crime

The Buckhead Public Safety Task Force (Legislative Reference No. 22-R-3001) issued its final report on Friday, with recommendations and a plan to curb crime in the northernmost Atlanta district, wherein the city stated a new police precinct will open up in June.

“Task Force participants were able to hear from a broad spectrum of public safety stakeholders, and I look forward to seeing that expertise translated into a meaningful action plan,” said District 7 Council member Howard Shook.

The suggestions listed in the report include, among other things, the support of reforms to modernize Atlanta’s alcohol licensing process, the intent to lobby for the City of Atlanta jail to help reduce overcrowding at Fulton County jail, the expansion and integration of camera surveillance and license plate reader networks, the clearing of the Fulton DA’s case backlog, and the promotion of programs that address repeat offenders.

Alcohol was the subject of several of the bullet-points listed in the report, and it recommended the improvement of alcohol licensing processes via automation and “closing of loopholes.” The report also expressed the goal to “create a path” whereby “Bad Actors of clubs” can be shut down if the establishment poses itself as a problem and to strengthen the License and Review Board with the power to act in special instances.

The report’s plan includes the aim to improve Atlanta Police Department (APD) patrols and community policing, to be done through the increase of APD boots on the ground via the recruitment of over 250 officers and the regular deployment of officers to high-traffic areas of Buckhead.

The report also announced a plan to “improve and expand Buckhead security patrols and camera integration to 100 percent, through the expansion of security patrols to outside of the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) area.”

“I look forward to working with our task force members and their organizations to expand BCID’s successful supplemental police patrols in order to provide coverage throughout the entire Buckhead area,” District 8 councilmember Norwood said.

Some areas that need increased security presence from the BCID include near Pharr Road and along the Piedmont corridor near Lindbergh Drive at the MARTA Transit Station.

This plan includes four levels of expanded patrol membership; corporate, retail, neighborhood, and institutional. The benefits of membership include a decal for participants, access to Connect Atlanta’s video surveillance network, access to COMNET’s radio dispatch network, supplemental security patrols, and a phone number provided for supplemental security patrol access.

Through the Atlanta Police Foundation’s (APF) Connect Atlanta program, camera owners can give permission to APD’s Video Integration Center (VIC) to monitor requested footage after they register their surveillance cameras with the APD.

Radio dispatch network COMNET is a way for citizens and those who are not law enforcement to be connected to the same radio network that police are.

“It allows for vertical communication directly between the user and the 911 center, but it also allows for horizontal communication among users,” said Greg McNiff, task force representative for the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF).

Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, highlighted the problem that criminal gangs pose to the safety of Georgia citizens.

“I’m also talking about things such as human trafficking and white-collar crime, things you might not traditionally think the gangs are partaking in,” said Willis.

Tom Ratchford, President of Formulytics, LLC, an “anti-gang software developer” who works with the Department of Justice (DOJ), characterized gang presence in Atlanta as “widespread, sophisticated, and well-funded.”

The usage of Formulytics software to gather intel on gangs is included in the report’s proposed plan.

Amber Connor, Security Chair for The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, told The Georgia Star News of the group’s intent to assess and analyze the results of the proposed plan.

“As we move forward, we will be narrowing down what will work, what may get stymied in Council, or what needs to be legislatively addressed at the State, County, or City level,” Connor said. “We are prioritizing and addressing what is happening as the ideas presented in the report either show to be effective or ineffective.”

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Addison Basurto is a reporter at The Georgia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Addy on Twitter and GETTREmail tips to [email protected]
Photo “Buckhead” by Kburkha2. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

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