By Louis Mayeux

The crime-busting vigilance of Atlanta Police’s Zone 2 and hopes for improved fire service gave Neighborhood Planning Unit-C members plenty to cheer about at their Jan. 5 meeting.
Police Lt. Mark Cotter’s report of an eight-percent crime reduction in Zone 2 in 2009 and interim Atlanta Fire Chief Joel G. Baker’s plan to reduce service “brownouts” at Station 26 highlighted new NPU-C Chairman Paul Melvin’s noncontroversial and limited-agenda first meeting.
Cotter and two colleagues entertained the group with stories of arrests, including a “peeping Tom” flasher who was found to have a history of rapes in other states, a burglar arrested because officers as instructed were driving around with their windows down and heard the sound of breaking glass at a Peachtree business, and an arrest leading to the recovery of 100 pounds of marijuana.
“We’ve been making a lot of fantastic cases in terms of getting these bad guys out of your community,” Cotter said.
While murders, rapes and robberies were significantly down in the zone as part of a 12-percent crime reduction throughout the city, burglaries “broke even” in the sprawling, 44-square mile zone.
But, Cotter said, a late-year push counteracted a spike in burglaries during the first nine months of 2009.
In answer to a question, Cotter said with the Super Bowl approaching, flat-screen televisions are a hot item for thieves. He said investigators are trying to determine the destination of the stolen flatscreens, but added that they are not showing up in pawn shops or being sold on the street.
Baker informed the group that the city Fire Department is applying for an $8 million federal grant to hire 75 additional firemen for two years. The city would have to take over the $4 million annual funding after the grant ends, he said.
After questioning from Dist. 53 State Rep. Elly Dobbs, Baker said the city had planned to apply for the grant Jan. 8 and hoped to know within six months about its acceptance. He said it would take up to a year to get the firefighters trained and to their posts.
Dobbs, citing new Mayor Kasim Reed’s plans to hire additional police officers, asked Baker if the mayor has similar plans for the fire department. Baker said he planned to meet with Reed and emphasize the need for more firefighters.
Dobbs, in a preview of the Georgia General Assembly session, said that with state revenues still down, further cuts to state agencies will bring “lots of soul searching.”
Another top issue will be water usage, with an 80-person task force and the Legislature involved in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s effort to reach an agreement with Alabama and Florida over Lake Lanier.
A third major concern will be transporation, she said.