Ladies and Gentlemen, It has been a busy few weeks since our last post so I thought I would bring you up to speed on some issues surrounding security in and around the Peachtree Heights West neighborhood.
On February 28th, Mayor Keisha Bottoms hosted a town hall meeting at the Atlanta History Center. One of the central speakers was Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. Chief Shields made it abundantly clear that any crime, however insignificant, was one crime too many and that her officers were charged with following up on each and every incident. She shouldered some of the blame for past crime rates in the city at large and vowed to bring that issue under control. She reported that Zone 2 (which includes PHW and most of North Atlanta and is by far the largest zone in the Atlanta area) would be reduced in size while keeping the same number of officers. This will allow for a greater concentration of resources. In addition, she reported that the recent pay raises approved by the City Council have already has a positive impact on recruiting new officers to fill the almost 400 vacancies within the Atlanta Police Department (APD).
One unfortunate event this year was the theft of a cell phone from a resident walking on Cherokee. No one was threatened or hurt but events such as this are unacceptable. The good news is that the system worked as planned. The network of security cameras and license plate readers were able to record the event and identify the car. The suspect was identified, arrested, and is now in the justice system.
Following Chief Shield’s remarks and the theft on Cherokee, I decided to do some investigation on my own of the crime statistics within our residential neighborhood. Looking at the records available on the APD web site, it appears that in each of the last 3 years we have had 13-14 calls or reports to the Atlanta Police. Fortunately all of the calls were in regard to property theft (items removed from vehicles, mail box theft, UPS/ Fed X /Amazon packages). No calls were related to crimes against people, thank goodness! Of the 13-14 calls in each of these years, 2016, 2017, 2018, more than half were theft of items left in unlocked cars. Please do not leave any items of value in your car!! Following this simple rule will help us eliminate the majority of our crime issues.
Lastly, Nolan Leake and I met this afternoon with Lieutenant Jeff Baxter who heads up our neighborhood security patrol. Jeff and his men are on duty 365 days a year in our neighborhood and were actively involved in assisting with the Cherokee incident as well as following up on other issues all the while checking the homes of our out of town residents. The purpose of our meeting was to find additional ways and new technologies that we as a community can employ to keep our families and property safe.
One suggestion that Jeff noted was asking residents to consider the installation of a personal security camera. These High Definition cameras record individuals as they approach your property and can be a valuable resource in solving a crime. While not official, one such company, is working on a partnership with the Atlanta Police to allow residents to upload footage of suspects or criminal activity directly to the APD. Such timely evidence would be of great aid to those attempting to solve and prevent additional crime.
For the most part, we are a very safe community, particularly in light of the fact that we live in the midst of 6.5 million people. Your involvement, diligence and awareness can help us stay this way.
One timely avenue is to encourage your neighbors to join PHWCA. Neighbors working with neighbors is the best way to keep our families, homes and streets safe.
Remember, in an emergency, ALWAYS CALL 911 FIRST!! Jeff and his men are always listening to the APD broadcast. The APD, our security patrol, or the fire department will respond with whomever is closest!
Regards, Tom Watson –Security Chair PHWCA