Mary Norwood, the chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, is calling on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to hold community meetings about crime in a Jan. 28 letter that also questions the accuracy of published Atlanta Police Department statistics.
The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Norwood, who lost the bitter 2017 mayoral race to Bottoms, was elected BCN chair this month and pledged a more advocacy-oriented role for the coalition of neighborhood associations. She wrote the letter, which she posted to social media, in her role as BCN chair.
“I regular receive heart-wrenching stories, from homeowners whose lives have been threatened during armed burglaries to business owners whose livelihoods are at risk,” Norwood wrote in the letter, which was copied to the Atlanta City Council.
The letter requests APD’s “plan to address this crisis; numbers of officers assigned to each of the city’s patrol zones and how they match crime rates; and details on recruiting and hiring patrol officers.
“Finally, Mayor Bottoms, will you please host some public meetings in Buckhead to address this crisis and answer questions from our concerned citizens?” the letter asks.
Norwood’s letter also questions the APD crime stats frequently circulated by police officials at neighborhood meetings. The letter says “those broad numbers do not appear to correspond with the overwhelming anecdotal evidence shared by everyday citizens.”
Atlanta Police Maj. Barry Shaw, the commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2, spoke at the January BCN meeting where Norwood was elected as chair. Several residents shared stories about violent crimes and what more APD can do. Shaw said that hiring more officers would help and that Buckhead is especially attractive to criminals, with more showing up to replace those arrested at unusually fast rates.
However, Shaw also talked about some solutions, including a significant policy pay raise and a process to change police zone boundaries, which would make Zone 2 almost entirely Buckhead-based instead of having some outlying areas around northwest Atlanta and the Cheshire Bridge Road area.
APD did not respond to questions about the zone redrawing.
Norwood said she wrote the letter both because of general comments from residents and because of concerns expressed by the BCN’s new “interest area groups,” committee-like bodies that she formed as a new structure for the organization to vet certain issues and propose advocacy.