Friday, January 6, 2012

Did the APD inadvertently make Capitol View less safe?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

The Atlanta Police Department's recent beat redesign was intended to improve service. The idea was that more evenly distributing individual officer workloads would heighten police presence, shorten 911 response times, and generally improve public safety.

In Capitol View, residents worry the changes have had the opposite effect.

Throughout the week, I've been in touch with Capitol View residents who say that during the past month, burglaries have become near-incessant. And in a December 21 email, even Zone 3 Commander Maj. Barbara Cavender acknowledged a "sudden rise" in the number of home break-ins, saying, "I myself have taken notice of this disturbing trend and have directed additional resources to help curb this problem."

Incidentally, just two days after that email was sent, its recipient was the victim of another attempted burglary. Worse, she says it took four hours for the police to respond to her multiple 911 calls. That resident — who asked not to be identified for safety reasons, so we'll call her "Mary" — believes the surge in property crime is directly related to the APD's recent zone overhaul, which resulted in the reassignment of the officer who'd been patrolling their beat for around seven years. Now, she fears, "these criminals know that the neighborhood isn’t being monitored as strongly."

During a phone conversation on Wednesday, Andre Arriaga — a five-year resident and two-time break-in victim — described to me people who were out the previous night, knocking on doors, and blatantly casing homes to target. "At this point," he said, "things are out of control."

"Mary" says the police have been responsive since she reached out to them; a meeting between Capitol View neighbors and APD Captain Byron Martin is supposedly in the works, and, just yesterday, APD officers were in area canvassing and talking to homeowners. Still, part of Maj. Cavender's initial email left a bad taste in neighbors' mouths ...

Through more than 2 years of planning and research, our new design will help us to better respond to Capitol View, and all communities throughout the City. As with any change there will be an adjustment period for all personnel.

"That's just completely unacceptable," says "Mary." "Every time you have an 'adjustment period' someone gets shot or robbed."

I reached out to the APD to see what other feedback they've gotten since the beat redesign, positive and/or negative (I'll post an update when I hear back). Do you guys have any thoughts on the beat redesign? Have you noticed a difference in service in your neighborhood?

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