Police officers patrolling Buckhead streets put a 13 percent dent in crime in 2011, the Atlanta Police Department says.
Zone 2 saw the biggest drop in overall crime among Atlanta’s six police zones, and the achievement earned Zone 2 Commander Maj. Robert Browning the 2011 Crime Reduction Award.
“Given the challenges fighting crime that not only the Atlanta Police Department had last year, but departments across the nation, a 13 percent reduction in crime is a remarkable feat,” said Police Chief George Turner in a press release. “Maj. Browning and the men and women who work under his command are to be commended.”
According to APD, in 2011 officers in Zone 2 accomplished:
• A 50 percent increase in traffic enforcement;
• A 14 percent decrease in property crimes;
• A 23 percent decrease in motor vehicle break-ins;
• An 8 percent decrease in auto thefts.
Browning said there were several reasons his staff was able to outpace other zones in crime reduction, including policies that he said “weren’t too popular,” like increased traffic enforcement.
He said the department has been gathering information about crimes in the zone.
“We have a really good crime analysis unit. We break down our crime every day, why they broke into this house instead of that house,” Browning said. “That helped us tailor our patrol tactics.”
Another part of his strategy has been community outreach. Browning said the officers make a point to attend neighborhood and community meetings. He said the department keeps the public aware of how to communicate with officers, through Twitter and the “see something, say something” campaign which he said encourages the public to, “Call 911 and let us check it out.”
“That’s been very helpful to us, plus making sure we have great contacts within the community,” Browning said.
Hans Bendeck, president of the Peachtree Hills Civic Association, said the idea that residents could call 911 even for a non-emergency was something that took time for the community to grasp.
“Now we’re realizing that 911 isn’t just for emergencies,” Bendeck said. “If you see something suspicious, you’re supposed to call 911. They’ve started to filter that information down to us and for the last five to six years we’ve been filtering that to our neighbors. I think that’s been very important.”
In 2011 the city of Atlanta expanded Zone 2. In December it added 3 square miles and picked up the Cheshire Bridge Road/Morningside corridor. The expansion raised questions about whether the zone had enough officers to keep up with the demand.
In addition to the Buckhead Community Improvement District area and Peachtree Hills, Zone 2 encompasses Mount Paran Road and Riverside Drive.
“I don’t think [the expansion is] going to hurt us at all,” Browning said.