Atlanta task force targets crimes against college students

Responding to recent crimes against students at Atlanta college campuses, city and university officials on Monday announced the creation of a task force to come up with a crime-fighting plan in the next 30 days.

The aim of the campus public safety task force is to have plans, possibly tailored to individual campuses in the Downtown and Midtown areas, before students start returning for the fall semester, Channel 2 Action News reported.

"It is imperative that we formulate a plan now to keep our students safe when they return to school," Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell said in a news release. "Parents and students need to know that the City has a concrete plan to help keep students safe while they are on and around their respective campuses."

Joining Mitchell at a Monday morning news conference were Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, campus police chiefs and student body presidents of Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and Atlanta University Center.

Eran Mordel, Tech student president, said at the news conference, "Let's inform people when they come on campus. Let's inform [them] from the second they're freshmen. Let's have these crime prevention officers that can go speak to student groups."

Mitchell cited Atlanta Police Department data for 2010-11 for crimes reported on and around college campuses. The statistics showed 4 homicides, 4 rapes, 135 aggravated assaults, 39 burglaries, 161 pedestrian robberies, 170 residential and commercial robberies, 296 cases of auto theft and 1,886 larcenies.

One of the more recent incidents occurred the early morning of July 1, when a 20-year-old undergraduate student at Tech awakened in his dormitory room in the North Avenue Apartments East to find two men stealing his laptop.

"Move, and I'll shoot you dead," one of the suspects told the victim at gunpoint, according to a Tech police report. The student was not harmed.

That incident came a little more than a week after three other students were mugged off-campus by armed thieves.

Last week, Mayor Kasim Reed promised more aggressive crime-fighting in Tech's Midtown neighborhood.

Reed and Col. Wayne Mock, public safety manager for Midtown Blue, a private security force of off-duty Atlanta police officers who patrol neighborhoods such as Home Park, unveiled a high-tech crime-fighting cruiser that students have nicknamed the "Flying Saucer."

The $37,000 2011 Dodge Charger Enforcer II has 27 emergency lights and other equipment to give it high visibility as it makes its rounds.

— Staff writer Christian Boone contributed to this article.