The Brookhaven City Council voted Nov. 9 to accept a $64,056.74 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to fund a safety officer and a community-wide pedestrian safety initiative.

“We are pleased that this grant will afford us the ability to have an officer on staff that will dedicate their time and expertise to pedestrian safety,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura in a press release.

As part of the one-year renewable grant, the city will immediately hire a new officer dedicated to pedestrian safety. But while the grant covers all salary, benefits, specialized training and an allowance towards equipment, the city will need to purchase a vehicle for the officer, according to city documents. Estimated cost to the city for the police vehicle and additional equipment for a full time officer is $25,000.
Sally Flocks, president and CEO of PEDS, speaks about Buford Highway’s pedestrian safety problems during the April 27 “bus crawl.” (Photo John Ruch)
“While the city has seen success in reducing accidents, it has necessitated pulling officers from other duties. The addition of a full-time dedicated safety officer will allow for more efficient allocation of resources, and the launch of a community-wide, integrated pedestrian safety initiative,” according to a memo from Patty Hansen, director of Fund Development.
Aspects of the pedestrian safety initiative include having the dedicated officer speaking directly to citizens about using crosswalks as well as talking to motorists who fail to yield for pedestrians. There will also be at least two pedestrian safety events a month.
According to an application for the grant, Brookhaven has experienced “a number of pedestrians hit by automobiles. In fact, 20 percent of all injury crashes reported since 2014 were pedestrians hit by an automobile. Of these crashes, two resulted in pedestrians being killed and several more being seriously injured.”

In response to the fatalities and pedestrians being struck by cars, the Brookhaven Police Department enacted several pedestrian safety campaigns including crosswalk enforcement and social media campaigns. Also, crosswalks were updated and when possible officers would patrol areas to assist with pedestrians crossing busy streets.

The many pedestrians on Buford Highway was cited in the police department’s application for the grant, noting that the area in the southernmost part of Brookhaven is the most densely concentrated residential population in the city. The overwhelming majority of people in the area either walk or use public transportation. The 2.9 mile stretch of Buford Highway includes 21 apartment complexes, 11 bars, dozens of restaurants and Northeast Plaza, a strip-mall and shopping center area with more than 20 businesses, according to the application.

The application notes that Peachtree Road is also, like Buford Highway, a main thoroughfare where the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station is located. The presence of Oglethorpe University and nine apartment complexes in the area contributes to heavy pedestrian traffic as well as Town Brookhaven and its numerous businesses, according to the application.

The application notes that numerous joggers and bicyclists frequent the heavily-traveled Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Johnson Ferry Road.

The city of Brookhaven’s Police Department was established in 2013 and now employs some 70 officers. The department is comprised of the patrol department, which answers calls for service and provides proactive patrols; the criminal investigations division, which investigates all crimes and manages internal affairs; and the support service division, which includes special units, neighborhood watch and other traffic enforcement.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.