Crime prevention efforts took center stage at a Buckhead neighborhood meeting Thursday night.
Mary Norwood, executive director of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, laid out a 12-point plan to about 75 residents and public officials, including Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore, at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. The proposed comprehensive plan would combine the efforts of residents, businesses, public officials and Fulton County courts and magistrate judges.
Norwood proposed increased security at businesses, holding offenders in the Atlanta City Jail until their probable cause hearing is completed, and changes to how Fulton County Magistrate Court judges consider bond for offenders.
“I want people to see that there’s a broad (solution),” Norwood told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the meeting.
The council created the plan in response to repeat offenses in Buckhead, including a crime spree in early January. The suspects were indicted on multiple car theft and burglary charges earlier this week.
Norwood said the plan was already in place when residents voiced public safety concerns to Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a Feb. 28 town hall. Bottoms defeated Norwood, a former city councilperson, in the Atlanta mayoral runoff in December 2017.
Buckhead has been hit with a series of car thefts and car break-ins in the past 18 months, including a crime spree in early January.
But Atlanta police Zone 2 Commander Barry Shaw spoke to the crowd, saying crime has decreased in the past month. In Buckhead, car break-ins and car thefts are down 50 percent and 33 percent respectively. By comparison, car break-ins and car thefts are down 32 percent and 16 percent respectively across the city.
“It means we’re in the right direction, but doesn’t mean we’re satisfied,” Shaw said.
And neither are residents.
“I’m still fearful but encouraged by the statistics,” Carol Brown, a resident of the East Chastain area, told the AJC at the event.
“I feel like everywhere I go it’s secure,” Peachtree Heights resident Alleen Bratton said. “But, I am careful. I look around and don’t do anything foolish.”
Valerie Sellers, the Buckhead group’s public safety chair, said she wants to focus on what businesses can do to decrease crime, such as completing security assessments and installing surveillance cameras.
“If they want you to patronize their business, then they should take a little responsibility for you as a customer,” she said.
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