Mayor-elect Dickens addresses crime during meeting with Buckhead realtors

113021 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor elect Andre Dickens is all smiles giving his victory address at his election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
113021 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor elect Andre Dickens is all smiles giving his victory address at his election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta mayor-elect Andre Dickens met with Buckhead residents and real estate leaders Monday and told about 100 attendees that he is “hyper focused on Buckhead.”

Speaking at the Atlanta REALTORS® Center in Sandy Springs, Dickens said the city’s surging violent crime was “the major elephant in the room” and “needs to be stopped across the entire city.”

ExploreThe 3 ways to stop Buckhead cityhood, according to Andre Dickens

Some state lawmakers and city residents want to pull the Buckhead community out of Atlanta to create a new city — stripping away 20% of Atlanta’s population and an estimated $232 million in tax revenue.

The Buckhead City Committee says they want more control over policing and infrastructure. Buckhead City Committee CEO Bill White said in an email Monday night that he hopes to know by April if residents will be allowed to vote for secession in November 2022.

“Atlanta’s Mayor-elect has made his first priority to STOP Buckhead City from happening (interesting priority to say the least),” White wrote in an email.

Combined ShapeCaption
Buckhead City supporters, including Bill White, at podium, who is the Buckhead City Committee Chairman and CEO as well as area senators, local residents and some opposed to the creation of a new city gather for a press conference at Loudermilk Park on Wednesday, Sept 29, 2021. The group announced that during the upcoming special legislative session the bill will be discussed. Several state senators signed the bill onsite, illustrating support in the state Senate. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Buckhead City supporters, including Bill White, at podium, who is the Buckhead City Committee Chairman and CEO as well as area senators, local residents and some opposed to the creation of a new city gather for a press conference at Loudermilk Park on Wednesday, Sept 29, 2021.  The group announced that during the upcoming special legislative session the bill will be discussed.  Several state senators signed the bill onsite, illustrating support in the state Senate.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Combined ShapeCaption
Buckhead City supporters, including Bill White, at podium, who is the Buckhead City Committee Chairman and CEO as well as area senators, local residents and some opposed to the creation of a new city gather for a press conference at Loudermilk Park on Wednesday, Sept 29, 2021. The group announced that during the upcoming special legislative session the bill will be discussed. Several state senators signed the bill onsite, illustrating support in the state Senate. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

The mayor-elect’s presence attracted the attendance of Atlanta City Council Member-elect Mary Norwood, who represents Buckhead but has yet to state her position on the cityhood movement.

Meanwhile, Atlanta REALTORS® Association President Karen Hatcher said she thinks Dickens message was well-received because she “saw a lot of heads nodding.”

One woman told Dickens she’s concerned with the spike in gunshots and street racing. Dickens said he understands because he’s worried about his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who attends the Atlanta Girls’ School in Buckhead.

Combined ShapeCaption
113021 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens gives his daughter a hug during his victory address at his election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

113021 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens gives his daughter a hug during his victory address at his election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
113021 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens gives his daughter a hug during his victory address at his election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

“This weekend I got quite a few signal 50(s),” said Dickens in reference to the police code used when someone is shot. “We’ve got a crime wave going on and we’ve known this since May 2020 when it picked up and we are still fighting it, trying to get it down. And it’s the number one issue.”

Dickens said the city’s police force is “400 to 450 officers short” but he thinks the promise of a new police and fire training center will attract recruits. He also said the city next month is opening a housing facility in Vine City for 30 new officers.

Additionally, Dickens said the city will hire officers from other jurisdictions. He said the recruiting efforts are improving to the point where he expects Atlanta to have 250 more officers next year.

Dickens said 60% of Atlanta’s crimes are committed by people between the ages of 13 and 25, so the city will enhance its focus on young people and the “gang crime” fueling Atlanta’s carjacking issue.

ExploreAtlanta crime trends, 2011-present

One man asked Dickens about nightclubs “masquerading as restaurants.” Several spots are under scrutiny as “nuisance properties” that repeatedly violate city codes.

Dickens said he plans on visiting some on random nights, and promised to shut down any that are violating city ordinances.

“When I look at some of the crimes that are happening, the shootings ... a lot of them do happen outside of the club,” Dickens said. “And that’s in Buckhead, but also, there’s some in southside too.”

Peachtree Park resident Steve Pracht said he’d happily join Dickens to patrol the nuisance businesses near his neighborhood. He lauded Dickens for listening to their concerns.

“He’s not even officially started his term of office but he’s getting out into the community to listen,” Pracht said.

ExploreHere’s what Andre Dickens wants to accomplish as mayor