The regular release of detailed police reports from the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2 was discontinued in January, leaving some North Buckhead residents concerned about a lack of information creating safety and image issues.
“To some, no news is good news,” said Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, which complained about the situation in its recent newsletter. “Others, uncertain about what areas are very safe and what areas aren’t, conclude that all of Buckhead is potentially risky, which is the wrong message.”
Crime reports are still released weekly and can be accessed through a public police database, but are much less detailed than the narrative reports provided by Zone 2 police before January.
The reports now only list the location of the crime, type of crime and what time it occurred. In addition to the weekly emails sent to neighborhood groups, the reports provide the basis for the Buckhead Reporter’s crime coverage.
Regular publication of the more-detailed reports stopped after Atlanta Police Major Barry Shaw took over as commander of Zone 2, which includes Buckhead.
Shaw said earlier this year that he ended the practice of assembling detailed reports because it took too much officer time and because he thought the shorter report provided the information that residents wanted. He also said he assigned more officers to street patrols in response to crime concerns.
When the North Buckhead Civic Association urged Shaw to continue the reports, he said, “I cannot justify pulling an officer off the street to perform this task,” the organization wrote in its newsletter.
The NBCA addressed in their newsletter some residents’ concerns about why the crime reports were no longer being posted on their website and, as an example, lamented the lack of detail in the reports on two assaults in North Buckhead.
“Were they domestic violence? Did they involve someone walking down the street and being shot by terrorists or robbers? We don’t know,” the NBCA wrote in the newsletter.
One of the biggest losses, Certain said, is that residents can no longer learn what not to do from the crime reports, such as not leaving valuables or guns in cars.
“To me, a key part of what is lost by the loss of narrative reports is how victims’ behavior factors into our crime situation,” he said.
If residents want more information, they can submit open records requests, but the NBCA doesn’t want to inundate the police department with requests or antagonize Shaw, they wrote in the newsletter.
The NBCA is now relying on residents reporting crime to them so the organization can distribute it to members.
Certain also lamented the dangers of relying on social media for crime information, which can often be inaccurate and over-report crimes, he said.
“People become fearful of living in a crime-infested ‘big city’ and want to move to somewhere safer, unaware that Buckhead is an unusually safe place to live, work, and shop,” Certain said.