Business groups beef up police presence downtown

Crime down slightly, but officers get 10 new bikes, which help in patrolling parking lots

The business community is hoping to prevent crime by beefing up the Atlanta Police Department’s presence downtown.

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District on Friday showed off the 10 new Fuji bicycles and three Segways it has donated to APD’s Zone 5 precinct at America’s Mart.

A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and the improvement district, said the donation is an “effort to help bridge the gap caused by the furloughs and the budget cuts within the city.”

The bikes cost $1,500 each and the Segways cost $4,500 apiece. The officers who ride them were given $600 in emergency equipment as well.

For the first six months of 2009, downtown crime is down slightly compared to the same period last year, according to the business groups’ crime statistics. The number of robberies and larcenies has decreased, although burglaries and aggravated assaults have increased slightly, the groups numbers show.

APD Chief Richard Pennington thanked the groups for their gifts. “It gives us added protection because it lets officers go in places where patrol cars can’t go,” he said. “It gives us an advantage on criminals.”

Zone 5 Commander Khirus Williams said bicycles are effective patrolling parking lots and preventing break-ins, which account for about 72 percent of all downtown crime. Williams urged people who go downtown to refrain from leaving items in their cars and to report suspicious activity immediately by calling 911.