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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

APD to create special unit to patrol Atlanta Beltline

Police would patrol on such areas as the Beltlines Eastside Trail, which is expected to open this summer
  • Angel Poventud
  • Police would patrol on such areas as the Beltline's Eastside Trail, which is expected to open this summer
Residents' concerns about security on the Atlanta Beltline have grown louder as the once-overgrown abandoned railroad corridor has been cleared for use by cyclists and urban hikers.

Sure, there was talk some years ago of mounted police patrolling the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and (one day) transit. But we never heard of anything long term. Lighting along the most developed segments of the $2.8 billion project will only be installed as funding becomes available.

Thanks to a federal grant, however, the Atlanta Police Department says it will be able to assign officers to a special force tasked solely with patrolling the Beltline.

In a statement, a police spokesman says the APD has been awarded a three-year, $1.8 million federal grant - which requires a $966,075 match from the city - that will allow the department to hire 15 military veterans as police officers. Fifteen existing officers will ultimately be shifted to a new team, the "APD Path Force," which will enforce the law within the Beltline's footprint.

"These 15 officers will work in partnership with public, private and other City of Atlanta departments to develop long term initiatives that will alleviate crime, increase the quality of life and develop security and safety ideas that will promote participation and patronage of the Atlanta BeltLine," a spokesman said in a press release.

"This grant award will provide 15 officer positions and will assist us to provide police services to the city at large, while providing employment opportunities to those who have selflessly served our country," Police Chief George Turner said in a statement. "I am pleased that we were able to secure this grant; it is a boost in helping us to reach our goal of becoming the safest big city in America."

The APD hasn't set a date for when the Path Force will be deployed.

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