A divided Dunwoody City Council decided to remove a new police unit from the city’s proposed 2012 budget.
The council debated the merits of adding four new officers during a discussion about Dunwoody’s budget at a meeting Oct. 10. The council will vote on the final 2012 budget Oct. 24.
Police Chief Billy Grogan asked the council for funding to create a new crime response unit that would be concentrated in problem areas to address high rates of crime and traffic. The annual cost of the unit was estimated to be about $270,000.
Grogan said the unit would use data to work proactively to devise plans to reduce incidents around the city.
“They would not be tied to answering calls for service,” Grogan said.
Grogan said the four officers would work together as a unit and their shift would rotate depending on needs in the city.
Council members had different views on adding additional officers. Some, like Denis Shortal, said they felt comfortable with the city’s current number of police officers.
“As of this time, I’m satisfied with what we’re doing,” Shortal said. “Prudent fiscal responsibility says we’ve spent (additional funds) for enhanced 911 service. I think that’s an adequate increase in police services for the year 2012.”
The city council voted last year to use a private 911 operating center. On Oct. 3, the 911 authority known as ChatComm took over answering emergency calls for the city of Dunwoody. ChatComm, which also serves Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, will cost a little more than $1 million per year.
Others, like John Heneghan, feel the additional officers are needed to keep the city safe.
Heneghan asked Grogan if Dunwoody qualifies as the “bank robbery capital of Georgia” following the six bank robberies that have occurred in the city this year.
“I’m not satisfied,” Heneghan said. “You’re asking for these additional resources and I believe you need them. I’m looking for a group of officers that … can be proactive, look at statistics, look at the needs of the city of Dunwoody and meet those needs. I think that’s a reasonable request.”
Councilman Robert Wittenstein, who served on the city’s budget committee, said this was a contentious issue during the budgeting process.
“The budget committee met for many hours and there were very few things we couldn’t reach a consensus on and this was one of them,” Wittenstein said.