New Atlanta police precinct opens in Buckhead Village

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Buckhead-area crime down 12% this year, officials say

Atlanta officials cut the ribbon on a new mini-police precinct in Buckhead on Wednesday morning, hopeful the addition of a dozen officers will help deter crime in the busy commercial area.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who was on hand for the event with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, touted the importance of state and local law enforcement working together to combat crime in Georgia’s capital city.

“It marks a new chapter for this community, a new resource in our fight against street gangs and criminals,” the governor told the crowd.

Plans for the precinct near the heart of Buckhead’s commercial center were announced last fall amid an effort by some Buckhead residents to secede from Atlanta and carve out a new municipality called “Buckhead City.” Those in favor of the move cited Atlanta’s spike in violence as the catalyst for splitting off.

So far this year, crime in Zone 2, which covers Buckhead, is down 12% compared to this time last year, according to police data.

It’s the only one of Atlanta’s six police zones that has seen a reduction in crime since the start of the year, crime statistics show.

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

The uniformed officers stationed at the precinct will focus primarily on responding to traffic calls, freeing up other units from Zone 2 to deal with more serious crime in the area.

Maj. Ailen Mitchell, the Zone 2 commander, said there are eight traffic officers stationed at the new precinct and another four on bicycle patrol. The goal, he said, is to eventually double the number of officers stationed there.

The mini-precinct, located near the intersection of busy Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads, is one of nine police sub-stations across Atlanta.

“It’s going to give us the ability to respond to those traffic-related calls along the Buckhead Village corridor quicker and faster, and free up those resources so that we’re able to respond to other law enforcement matters,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said having a more visible officer presence in Zone 2 will allow the department to focus more on its community policing efforts.

The city is leasing the space from Cousins Properties for just $1 a year. In addition, the Buckhead Coalition and Buckhead Community Improvement District contributed $150,000 to equip the new precinct.

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Interim Atlanta Police Department Chief Darin Schierbaum said he is pleased the facility is officially open, and praised the businesses community and civic groups for rallying around the department to make it happen.

“This is what partnership looks like,” he said. “It’s good for morale, it’s good for crimefighting and it’s good for the community.”

Schierbaum said he is happy to see Zone 2′s crime decrease for the second straight year, noting there “hasn’t been a single act of violent crime” at bustling Lenox Square since April.

Also in attendance Wednesday, in addition to several City Council members, state legislators and business leaders, were more than a dozen local residents who support cityhood for Buckhead. Wearing green shirts and caps with the “Buckhead City” logo, cityhood supporters looked on with skepticism as Dickens discussed the impact the new precinct will have on Atlanta’s crimefighting efforts.

One supporter held a sign that read, “Second ribbon cutting and still not enough officers.”

Speaking to reporters, Dickens refuted recent comments made by Buckhead City Committee CEO Bill White on Fox News likening the affluent community to a “war zone.”

“I deal with data. I deal in facts,” the mayor said. “Crime is down 12% in Buckhead year over year ... No matter what someone may say, we’ve got data on our side.”

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Residents and business leaders have been on heightened alert in recent years after a series of high-profile shootings at Phipps Plaza and nearby Lenox.

Among the victims were 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie, who was killed by a stray bullet while Christmas shopping with her family in 2020.

Two months earlier, a man opened fire when several people tried to rob him inside the Neiman Marcus, and a security guard was wounded last year when two teens tried to get into the Apple store after hours. In late 2019, a Macy’s employee was shot in the stomach during an attempted carjacking in the mall’s parking deck.

City Councilman Howard Shook, who represents much of Buckhead, called it encouraging to see the mayor and governor together at the same public event. But he said there’s still work to be done when it comes to alleviating violent crime that often stems from trivial arguments.

“People get together and someone looks funny at somebody else, and out come the guns,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be a big slowdown in that.”