An Investment in Safety and Security is Stronger Now
By Jim Durrett, executive director, Buckhead CID
Amidst the grim news that the United States surpassed China and Italy with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, I applaud Mayor Bottoms for creating a “shelter in place” order on the City of Atlanta to reduce the spread of this highly contagious virus. I am also heartened by the fact that many of BCID’s projects fall within the “essential business” definition and will be able to continue, which ultimately will help residents and visitors when the crisis passes – hopefully sooner rather than later.
Our mission at the Buckhead Community Improvement District is to create and maintain a safe, accessible and livable urban environment, and “safe” is what I want to focus on today.
On March 25, the BCID board voted unanimously to approve $297,000 in funds to complement and enhance current public safety and security initiatives within the CID boundaries. The board acknowledged that with a 9% rise in property crime, coupled with the possible decrease in first responders based on the coronavirus escalation, we needed to take extra steps to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
BCID has had a long-standing partnership with the Atlanta Police Department’s (APD) Zone 2 leadership and the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is an organization that uses a public-private partnership model to help prevent and reduce crime. Since 2011, the CID has installed more than 50 cameras and 20 license plate readers in the district. However, in continued talks with these partners we agreed that increased surveillance was needed to address the rise in property crimes seen across metro Atlanta.
The investment will enable the Atlanta Police Department to install seven additional pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) security cameras and three license plate readers (LPRs), as well as six mobile, solar-powered combination camera and LPRs that will be deployed at various businesses, parking lots and strip malls. All the cameras will be integrated into the Operation Shield network, which has proven effective in quickly deploying technical assets to the police department and business community.
In addition to the cameras, BCID will launch a dedicated off-duty supplemental patrol officer in an APD and BCID co-branded vehicle designed to deter crime and build community relations. The patrol, which will occur from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., six days a week within the CID boundaries, is in addition to on-duty APD patrols.
Our approach to safety is holistic and in fact last year BCID provided funding for other safety and security initiatives in collaboration with Livable Buckhead. Those initiatives include the launch of a multi-pronged public safety campaign to reduce the number of car break-ins, the development of a public safety committee to improve the flow of security-related information and requests to commercial property owners to connect their private security camera to the APD’s Operation Shield network.
As we hopefully come through this pandemic as quickly as possible, I feel better knowing that Buckhead will be safer and more secure than ever before.