By Lieutenant Steve Rose
We have our first year of police service under the new Sandy Springs Police Department under our belt and looking back, I believe that we’ve accomplished more than we expected in the start-up phase of this department.
Originally, I was going to submit a more official version, something more like the annual report with all sorts of buzz words and four-syllable words that enhance the buzz words. I really don’t know what most of those words mean anyway. Last month I was asked to produce some “deliverables” to the (community) meeting. I thought they meant pizza. So, I decided I’ll talk about where we were, where we’re at and where we’re going in my usual manner and I hope you have patience.
Two years ago, five of us were sitting around a table trying to come up with how many officers, how many cars, salaries, benefits and how much equipment we would need to start a department. In some respects it’s been a long year but in others, the time has flown. To say the least, it was a very unique experience.
We’re still crunching numbers but it looks like we’re probably on track for an overall reduction of Part 1 crimes by about 30%. That’s huge, folks. Now we’re going to sit back and brag about that for about a week and then we’re going to put it aside and start working on our challenges for this year.
First of all, now we’re comparing ourselves with—ourselves. That means that we’ll be back out addressing existing problems such as residential and business burglary, as well as thefts from vehicles. Crime is ongoing. To have success at it means the department’s strategies have to be ongoing as well.
Chief Gene Wilson came to Sandy Springs as its first Chief of Police after 16 years as Chief of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Police Department. With him came the crime-control model called COMPSTAT.
COMPSTAT is the playbook we use to address crime problems quickly and efficiently. The job of the crime-control model is to assess where the crime patterns and series are, as well as any other information that paints a picture of crime activity. The second phase of COMPSTAT is the accountability, on the part of the command staff and field officers, to utilize that information towards resolving that activity.
Arresting people for committing crimes is a good way to resolve an illegal activity. Our focus will include gang activity, narcotics activity, and property crimes. We will always consider investigations and the arrests of persons committing violent crimes a priority.
The coming year will be busy. We have several projects that we think will enhance the productivity of the department. Two of those projects involve the use of a reserve unit. The reserve unit will be able to address tasks such as court security and serving warrants. Another project will be the use of civilian volunteers in the areas of crime prevention, victim support liaison, and citizen feedback / survey programs.
The department will install a records management system to track incident and accident reports as well as mapping target areas and other crime data subjects. Another project that we believe will greatly enhance our capability to move information back and forth to the citizens of Sandy Springs is a dedicated Web site that will allow us to post up-to-date information, mapping, downloadable forms, bulletins and alerts such as Amber Alerts, at a moment’s notice.
A police department, unlike any other service oriented department, relies on the speed of which information is both received from and is transmitted to the public. We think it will be a huge benefit to the citizens of Sandy Springs.
Folks, I’ve been in this neighborhood for the past 27 years and I can tell you that these are good days. We have accomplished a lot in a year’s time. We intend to continue doing what has been successful and tweak where we need to tweak to keep us flexible in order to address the problems of our citizens whether it’s crime or a flooded back yard. Our job is to solve problems and we’ll continue to do that.
Last but not least I want to thank the citizens of Sandy Springs, both in the business and residential communities, for all of the support they have given to the officers of this department. It is truly a community effort and your contribution has been tremendous. Thank you—now please go and get your valuables out of the car before you go to bed.
Steve Rose is the community affairs officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department.