Scores of Buckhead residents, expressing anger and fear over recent high-profile crimes, told top Atlanta police officials Sept. 10 that homeowners want more officers to patrol their neighborhoods.
“Our concern is house break-ins…We’re worried about the sanctity of our houses and the safety of our houses,” resident Brink Dickerson said. “Zone 2 needs more cops. There’s a well-known joke that if you see a cop in Chastain Park, you should stop and offer directions, because he’s lost.”
Many of the more than 150 residents attending the gathering applauded as Dickerson told police officials, including Chief George Turner, that “we need more cops that are visible and on our streets more of the time. … We feel a little underserved right now.”
Turner told the residents attending the community meeting at The Lodge Café at Piedmont Presbyterian Church that the APD is authorized to employ 2,034 officers and now has only about 70 vacancies to fill. The department has about 100 recruits in training, he said.
In addition, Atlanta police use high-tech crime-fighting equipment, including a network of cameras spread throughout the city, that creates “smart policing,” Dave Wilkinson, president of the non-profit Atlanta Police Foundation said. The department now monitors about 5,700 cameras and plans to install as many as 10,000, he said.
But homeowners weren’t satisfied. “We can talk about cameras all we want to, but we need more policemen in our neighborhoods,” Jana Unterman said.
“We can all agree on that,” Turner said.
“We’ve got to have officers on the street,” Unterman continued.
“We’ve got more police oifficers on the street that we’ve had in this city,” Turner said.
“We need more,” Unterman replied.
Residents pointed to a series of car break ins, reports of home invasions and said they had seen reports on social media of people driving through neighborhoods as if scouting houses for possible thefts.
One resident said she didn’t sleep well because of her fears. Another shouted a question asking if she could shoot strangers at her door. “Not for knocking on your door,” Turner replied.
Lindsey Yarborough told the officials a man came to her door pretending to sell magazines and kept trying to get in for 10 minutes after she called 911. “He stood at my door for 10 minutes and did everything he could to gain access to my home,” she said.
The man faces a court hearing later this month on a charge of soliciting without a license, she said. “The reality is he committed a crime that was much worse than what he’s charged with,” she said.