Atlanta Police Zone 2, which covers the Buckhead area, has launched a four-person bike unit to patrol the area between Sidney Marcus Boulevard, Piedmont Road, Lindbergh Drive and Interstate-85.

Major Andrew Senzer, commander of Zone 2, at the recent NPU-B meeting.

Zone 2 Commander Major Andrew Senzer discussed the new patrol at the Sept. 7 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit B.

“We needed to do it,” said Senzer. “There are too many quality-of-life issues over there that need to be mitigated.”

The officers are patrolling on bikes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., he said.

“They are targeting individuals committing quality of life offenses – drinking, smoking crack, loitering in businesses.”

In connection with the bike unit, Senzer talked about the Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative (PAD), an effort aimed at reducing the arrest and incarceration of people experiencing extreme poverty, substance abuse or mental health issues. Instead, they can be diverted to receive needed services.

“This is an alternative to putting somebody in jail,” he said. “It’s got to be a low-level offense, and the officer has to make that determination.”

Senzer said the bike unit, in addition to the diversion program, is already making an impact in the area.

“This is our second week doing it,” he said. “The business owners and managers of the establishments there have voiced their appreciation for the presence in that area.”

Senzer also addressed the new West Village mini precinct that’s in the works. Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant detailed the new precinct last week, saying it would house up to 24 officers and should be operational by summer 2022.

“This is great news for everybody in this area,” Senzer said. “This will definitely free up our beat officers to do more proactive enforcement, handle calls more expeditiously.”

Officers at the new mini precinct will be focused on traffic incidents, which can “tie up a lot of time and manpower,” he said. “It’s great that this need was acknowledged and that we’re taking steps to make it happen.”

The wave of violent crime in Buckhead has been a hot topic in 2021 and a key issue behind an effort for Buckhead to break off from Atlanta and form its own city.

But Senzer said the numbers are now trending down from 2019 and 2020.

“We are already in the black compared to 2019,” Senzer said, calling that the last “normal” year before the pandemic and the civil unrest in summer 2020. “But more importantly, our numbers compared to last year are trending downward as well.”

According to the latest data from the Atlanta Police Department, total Part 1 offenses so far this year (including murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery, among other serious crimes) are down 9% from 2019, but still up 8% from 2020.

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.