In a quest for more details on high-profile crimes and alcohol-licensing questions, Atlanta City Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit and Howard Shook have hired a “public safety investigator” who had previously filed to run for Shook’s seat this fall.

Jamie Christy is a Buckhead resident and lawyer who has worked both as a criminal defense attorney and as a member of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, according to a City Council press release. Late last year, Christy filed paperwork declaring an intent to raise money for a campaign for the North Buckhead District 7 council seat that Shook holds.

Shook, who is running for reelection, said Christy’s move to run against him was his introduction to her.

“We had a conversation and gosh, I think very highly of her,” Shook said in an interview. “She’s got a ton of experience. She wants to learn. … So we had a nice conversation and this is where we ended up.”

Shook said he and Matzigkeit are paying Christy $25 an hour on an ad hoc basis, with the cost split between their council discretionary funds.

The hiring comes amid ongoing crime concerns in Buckhead that have sparked legislation to turn the neighborhood into its own city and led local business organizations to develop a “Buckhead Security Plan.” According to the press release, Christy will “investigate and report on the post-arrest outcomes of high-profile Buckhead felonies, as well as provide the due diligence needed to confirm that alcohol licensees are operating appropriately.”

“I am honored to represent the Buckhead community by serving as public safety investigator,” Christy said in the press release. “My goal is to provide updates on violent crime and situations regarding the Buckhead bars that abuse their alcohol licenses.”

“I think we all want to know,” Shook said of follow-up on major criminal cases. “When a person’s arrested, that’s good. And then it tends to disappear from public view.” 

He cited last year’s notorious killing of a 7-year-old girl as she rode in a car past the Phipps Plaza mall. “As kind of a test case I said, ‘Go and find out what you can about Maxie Kennedy’s alleged shooter,” Shook said.

The Atlanta Police Department has expressed concern that some bars and nightclubs around the city may be improperly licensed as restaurants or have other license and permit issues. Shook said “that is a very byzantine and yet very important world to figure out” and that Christy’s work should help.

Exactly how Christy will make reports is a “work in progress” and she will “learn by doing,” Shook said. 

“Councilmember Shook and I are committed to ensuring a safe Buckhead, and this is another way we are putting our money where our mouth is,” Matzigkeit said in the press release.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.