East Point police will post weekly crime stats in quest to be more transparent

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

East Point residents have been imploring police to be more transparent and timely with information relating to crime in the city for months. The department vowed Friday afternoon to upload weekly crime statistics in hopes of bridging the current gaps between residents and authorities.

Frustrations regarding crime and safety have been popular conversation topics among East Point neighbors, and police Chief Shawn Buchanan said he has been listening. He is hoping the crime statistics will better inform residents of what is happening around them as well as change the perspective that the city is a center of crime.

“We want to keep people up to date with what goes on in the area because a lot of people are under the assumption that crime is worse than it is, and that’s just not the case,” Buchanan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone Friday night. “My goal is to keep people up to date so they won’t speculate and guess.”

Concerns about transparency come after the body of a teenage girl was discovered in the 2200 block of Ben Hill Road on Feb. 12. On March 5, a man was fatally shot at Sykes Park in the Meadowlark area by several gunmen in a black vehicle, according to police. The following day, a man was taken into custody after a fatal shooting in the 1300 block of Cleveland Avenue.

Buchanan explained that crime in East Point in 2022 is down compared to 2021. He also added that three of the five homicides this year have been solved, all of which involved people who knew each other.

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As a leader of East Point SAFE, a coalition of neighbors, Carrie Ziegler has been pressing authorities to be in communication with residents regarding crime. In mid-February, during a City Council meeting, Ziegler complained about how residents were not being notified about crimes in a timely manner and that neighbors had to rely on gossip.

“We kind of had to go off what other neighbors were saying, but then how do we know what’s true or not,” the five-year Jefferson Park neighborhood resident told the AJC.

Getting information about crime and safety has been a journey, according to Ziegler. But she did emphasize that the police department has been responsive as of late and she is excited they have pledged to keep residents updated and informed.

One concern still remains for Ziegler: Are we getting all the information?

She said she knows plenty of neighbors who have become victims and pointed out that not all crimes are being shared with the public. She also hopes the statistics eventually become more detailed, such as including the address and date of the crime, so neighbors know if the incidents are happening near them.

Ziegler said she has always been aware of her surroundings, but that the statistics add a new perspective.

“Now I have the comfort of knowing what’s happening around me and being able to assess my level of risk when going out,” she said. “I think this initiative will really help build relationships between residents and police.”

Buchanan said he hopes the statistics will also show neighbors that crime is not rampant in the city.

“People believe that we have some type of just really atrocious crime problem and it’s not the case,” he said. “I’m trying, as the chief, to work on things to lower crime, but also change the image of what East Point is.”