Update - 1/29/13: Additional crime stats for 2012 and comments from Zone 5 Commander Major Wayne Whitmire have been added to the article.
Atlanta suffered its second fewest homicides (85) in 50 years while other violent crimes dropped last year including rape (down 24 percent), aggravated assault (down 2 percent), and robbery (down 1 percent).
But property theft experienced a slight increase and as some residents of Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 5 know, the miniscule dropping of aggravated assault and robbery crimes has barely been felt in the immediate area.
Zone 5, which covers portions of downtown, also covers neighborhoods in the Midtown Patch coverage area including Ansley Park, Sherwood Forest, Georgia Tech, Atlantic Station, Midtown and Home Park – the latter two which have experienced their share of person on person armed crime in 2012. This past week, there were two armed carjackings in Midtown.
But overall last year in Zone 5, property crimes were down. Burglary was down 7 percent, larceny from auto was down 10 percent, and larceny other was down 4 percent. All of the crimes against person categories were down (murder, rape, aggravated assault) except robbery, which was up 1 percent or 3 incidents. Robbery was down 22 percent since 2010 and overall crime in Zone 5 was down 26 percent since 2010.
However, through the first 19 days of 2013, robberies were up 75 percent and aggravated assaults up 29 percent in Zone 5. There were also already 14 residential burglaries, which is a spike of 1,300 percent. See here to sign up for alerts from APD.
Wrote Zone 5 Commander Major Wayne Whitmire to Patch in an email, “Please also keep in mind that at the beginning of the year, when you are dealing with small numbers, three or four crimes can show as a 70 or 80 percent increase. Even though we have seen significant decreases we still have a lot of work to do. We have some new initiatives coming out this year that will further improve our abilities to prevent crime."
Recently, Kathy Boehmer, public safety chair of the Home Park Community Improvement Association, was in contact with several APD representatives including Whitmire, Zone 5 Midtown Precinct Commander LT Snowden, Code Enforcement Officer Tony Worthem, and Home Park’s dedicated Patrol Officer John Stevens.
Here are some quick bullet points per the APD reps as reported by Boehmer to residents of Home Park:
- Most crimes continue to be crimes of opportunities…car break-ins, burglaries, etc.
- Car break-ins are at a 5 year low. 5 years ago, there were 200+ car break-ins per month in Zone 5. Now we’re at 35 – 40. A lot of this can be attributed to folks being more careful about not leaving anything valuable (or that can be construed as valuable) in their cars. The “Clean Car Campaign” has been very successful in this respect. Most car break-ins happen to visitors, not folks who actually live in the city.
- Major Whitmire urges people to continue to call 9-1-1 for any issue. This is the only way the department can keep a good record of where the issues are so that they can deploy resources to the areas that need it most.
- Additionally, if you ever call 9-1-1 and feel that you didn’t get the service you needed, Maj Whitmire says to call 9-1-1 back and request a supervisor. They are required to accommodate you in this respect.
- Maj Whitmire’s philosophy is to look at neighborhoods from the standpoint of “what if it was my neighborhood” and tackle the issues in that respect. This includes issues of crime, quality of life (code enforcement) and other public safety issues.
- Zone 5 continues to have undercover officers patrolling [Home Park] and to conduct the safety checks on the roads at various hours of the day and night. This sends a signal to potential criminals that they are at great risk of being caught since they never know when and where these checks are going to be.
- Georgia Tech police department is still working closely with APD on patrolling our neighborhood and addressing various public safety issues. It is a very strong partnership and one that serves Home Park well. A great job is being done by both organizations.
- Atlantic Station Public Safety officers continue to help patrol north Home Park.
- Robberies down in last 6 months; and in Beat 501 [Home Park's] in the past month, there have only been 4.
- Lots of resources are being deployed towards the border with Zone 1 to help prevent issues with known troublemakers from that area from continuing their criminal activities into Zone 5.
- The panhandling ordinance is in full swing and is definitely having an adverse effect on these activities, especially downtown.
- There is a growing focus on Quality of Life issues with APD taking over the Office of Code Compliance. This has long been an area of great frustration for the city’s residents as the city’s code enforcement processes and databases have long been broken and/or non-existent. There are currently several initiatives underway to fix many of the code enforcement processes for the city. There will be more on that in the coming months.
- The new APD code enforcement officer for Home Park is Officer Worthem.
- There is still an initiative in the works to deploy cameras in Home Park, mostly along 10th, 14th and 16th Streets to help, initially, catch criminals and, overtime, deter them from committing crimes in the neighborhood once they realize there’s a good chance they’ll experience a “Kodak moment” which could lead to their arrest! More on that in the coming months.
- The biggest problems for Beat 501 still continue to stem from The Compound (nightclub on Brady) and Atlantic Station (crimes of opportunity, shoplifting, etc).