The new captain for Atlanta Police Zone 2 told residents crime was down last year, a different picture than the narrative painted by Buckhead City proponents.

“It’s unofficial right now, but it looks like we’re going to win the crime reduction award,” Zone 2 Capt. Jason Smith told members of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B during a Tuesday night meeting. Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2 covers neighborhoods including Buckhead. “I think right now we’re sitting at minus 7% for the year.”

Capt. Jason Smith, assistant commander for Atlanta Police Zone 2.

APD hasn’t yet released year-end 2021 crime numbers. But according to its latest data through Dec. 25, Part 1 crimes in Zone 2 were down 6% from 2020 and 12% from 2019. Part 1 offenses include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

Zone 2 homicides were still up in 2021, with 13 reported as of Dec. 25. That’s an increase from 8 homicides in 2020 and 6 in 2019 during the same time period.

Crime is central to an effort for Buckhead to break off from Atlanta and form its own city. Cityhood leader Bill White has repeatedly said Buckhead residents are living in a “warzone.”

And at a November Senate committee hearing, Sen. Brandon Beach, who has filed Buckhead cityhood legislation, started his testimony with a video compiling violent crimes, including a security guard who was shot at Lenox Square mall. The Senate committee also heard from Eliana Kovitch, who was violently attacked by a man in Buckhead last year.

From left, Buckhead City Committee CEO and Chairman Bill White, who is the face of the cityhood movement, and Sen. Brandon Beach testify before the Georgia Senate committee in November 2021.

But Smith at the NPU meeting talked about a public safety turnaround.

“As soon as the numbers are solidified, we’re going to be pushing this stuff out … on all of our platforms,” he said. “Because we’re extremely proud, especially in Zone 2, we’re so excited about some of the results and the hard work that the officers really put in this year.”

Maj. Andrew Senzer, commander of Zone 2, also said he was proud of what the police force accomplished.

“I mean, you couldn’t have picked a better zone, right? Or a more important zone … with everything going on,” Senzer said.

Smith talked about the success of a police bike patrol unit in the Lindbergh-Morosgo area of Buckhead. The bike patrol launched in July and has since had nearly 600 patrols and 156 arrests. It’s resulted in a 32% decrease in crime in the area, he said.

He also mentioned plans to open a new police precinct at West Paces Ferry and Peachtree roads that will house traffic and bike units.  

“So, we’re really hoping to replicate some of the success that we had at Lindbergh-Morosgo in some different ways,” Smith said. “We’re really excited for the possibilities over there.”

Amy Wenk

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