A committee with leaders from 11 organizations has released the Buckhead Security Plan, a strategy of adding a group of off-duty police officers to augment the Atlanta Police Department’s efforts by patrolling the community’s commercial district to combat crime.
In October interviews with the Neighbor, committee members provided preliminary details on the plan.
Also referred to as Buckhead Blue since it’s modeled after the Midtown Blue program, the plan includes “strategies to improve crime deterrence and enforcement of existing laws, as well as changes to policies and procedures that will have a positive impact on public safety,” a news release stated.
Under the plan, it would fortify the Atlanta Police’s Operation Shield camera network by creating a grid of cameras in Buckhead. Buckhead Blue’s off-duty officers would also coordinate with the private security guards already patrolling Buckhead neighborhoods.
According to its website, Midtown Blue has a set of more than 40 off-duty cops forming a group of nearly three officers per shift patrolling that area every hour of every day each year. District 8 Atlanta City Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit, a committee member, said its annual budget is $1.8 million.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District, a self-taxing group of businesses, already has a much smaller version of Midtown Blue, with a $50,000 vehicle it purchased stationed at the police’s Zone 2 precinct and three off-duty officers paid a total of $100,000 a year to patrol the district in shifts Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. But it’s growing.
At its Dec. 2 meeting, the district’s board voted to fund one more patrol officer and vehicle and will consider adding a third officer and vehicle early in 2021.
“We are taking action to reverse recent trends in crime, hold lawbreakers accountable and restore citizen confidence that Buckhead is safe and secure,” committee member Jim Durrett, president of the Buckhead Coalition and the district’s executive director, said in the release. “The partners collaborating on this effort understand the urgency of the situation and are committed to responding in ways that meet the needs of this moment and put Buckhead on a solid footing for years to come.”
In addition to Matzigkeit and Durrett, the committee includes representatives of the Atlanta Police Foundation, the city council, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, the Atlanta mayor’s office, the police’s Zone 2, Livable Buckhead, the Buckhead Business Association the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Units A, B, and C.
“The plan also includes 20 objectives aimed at increasing support for and coordination with entities responsible for items such as enforcement of noise and party house ordinances; controlling street racing; identifying license and permit violations; spot checking overcrowding at problematic establishments; and other actions that ensure public safety,” the release stated. “It also aims to increase support for hiring, training and retention of APD officers to achieve a full force, and for the establishment of a new training center for APD and Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.”
Buckhead Blue would be completely privately funded, and a cost estimate has not been made yet, but Matzigkeit said it could exceed $1 million annually.
For more information on the plan, visit https://bit.ly/2Vr0138.