BCN Members Version – PDF (login required).
I. Welcome & Introductions
Jim King called the meeting to order at about 6:35 PM. A quorum was present.
II. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the October meeting were approved.
III. Admit New Member Neighborhoods
No neighborhoods asked to be admitted to BCN.
IV. Special Guest Speaker:
Chief George Turner, APD
Chief Turner, noting that he had served as Chief of Police for almost four years, provided this assessment of the department. When he took over APD, they had morale issues; they had lost the trust of the community because of two very high profile situations. The first was the Kathryn Johnson case, followed by the Eagle Bar incident in late 2010. He said they had officers accused of behavior no citizen could support. He responded by conducting business openly, showing how they made their officers accountable; he believes that situation has been turned around completely. He said crime is clearly down to 50-year historical levels. They have grown into the largest police department in the city’s history. Yet, they have challenges. Fifty-six officers are in field training, 95 other officers are in other training in the academy, and another 60 officers are waiting to go to school. Another class will start before the end of the year with another starting in March. They will have their 2,000 officers “sworn and on the streets” by the third quarter of 2014. They are currently reviewing the department units to determine what the APD should look like with 2,000 officers. They have partnered with the Atlanta Police Foundation to do that analysis, looking at every officer and every assignment to make sure they have the right mix of officers in the right places. The study will be completed by the end of the year with
recommendations to be implemented beginning in January. Over the last four years important technology improvements have been made. They have increased the number of cameras in the video integration center to more than 3000 cameras. “We are doing more things with technology and we are smarter because of it.” He said they couldn’t have made these accomplishments without the support of the Police Foundation’s. He said, “Our main goal is to make sure that the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department is the best and on the cutting edge of law enforcement in the country” He wants the City of Atlanta to be one of the safest large cities in America. To get there will require support from businesses and the community.
Q&A for Chief Turner
“What’s being done to cut down on the attrition?” Turner said when he took over APD’s attrition rates were double the national average, between 10% and 11%. This last year it was down below 5%. He attributes the improvement to the partnership with the Police Foundation scholarship opportunities for officers – over 500 officers have received scholarships; only two of these police officers were lost to attrition. They have relocated more than 1500 officers so they now live in the City of Atlanta, assisted by the Police Foundation. A number of incentives are in place to limit attrition. Plus, the economy has been down. Atlanta has been hiring while others haven’t been. He said the mayor has committed to use pay as an incentive for officers to stay.
“Is 2,000 officers a magic number?” The Police Foundation projects we need 2,400 officers in 2017.
“Are development impact fees used to increase police staffing or other things?” Turner said for the past ten years, funding for officers has always come from the general fund. He didn’t know where the impact fees go.
“How does APD feel about neighborhood security patrols?” He feels very positive about security patrols. He said the APD needed and still needs those patrols because of the concentrated need in those area.He thinks we can do things smarter with technology now by deploying cameras in those neighborhoods,
monitored by both the video integration center and the neighborhoods. Paraphrased: “Do 911 calls affect police resource deployment?” An algorithm has been used to allocate police resources based on calls for service and similar data. He said they are now looking to the Police Foundation to deploy a new allocation model. He said of the class that’s just graduating, each precinct will receive five officers except that Zones 4 and 5 will receive four. He said the next class will be deployed fairly similarly. APD has taken on responsibility for full time officers being assigned to Atlanta schools. Twenty more veteran officers will be assigned to the schools in January.
“We have major speeding problems. Can you help?” Chief: “Can we use radar on that road?” “Yes.” Chief: “Well, we can take care of that.” There are more tickets written in Zone 2 than any other precinct. It’s because you complain about people speeding in your neighborhoods. We should contact Major Hobbs. Chief Turner had to leave the meeting at this point to attend to a hospitalized relative. Dave Wilkinson, President and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation and Zone 2 Commander Major Van Hobbs took over. Major Hobbs spoke about a test program funded by the Atlanta Police Foundation called PredPol – “predictive policing” – deployed for the past 90 days in Zones 4 and 6. Zone 2 has now been added. The system uses algorithms to predict where the next crime is going to occur. The system updates every five minutes. In evening watch, car break-ins is a common crime so they tune the system to “entering autos” and “boxes appear on the map”. The “box” is 500’ x 500’. The Zone has its officers conduct “directed patrols” in and around the areas with the boxes to prevent the crime from happening.
LAPD did a study using PredPol and saw a 12% decrease in crime. Zones 4 and 6 saw a significant decrease. The biggest crime day watch deals with is burglaries. The morning watch has a split mission: “entering autos” and after that is robberies. Each shift makes the appropriate selection in the PredPol
system. Hobbs went on to say that all the cars are equipped with a tracking system. All Hobbs has to do is enter the beat car number and the current location is shown on the map. He can also check the car’s location history and how fast it has been going. So, if a crime in one of the boxes happens, Hobbs can check to see where the car was when it happened. Hobbs commented again that about 75% of the cars broken into in Zone 2 belong to people from outside the zone. Zones 2, 5 (Midtown), and 6( East Atlanta) have the highest levels of car break-ins.
Q&A for Major Hobbs
“If PredPol keeps a bad guy from committing a crime in the box, does it mean that they just don’t do any crime or do they just move to another area?” The hope is that the crime never occurs. He said there is a direct correlation between the number of traffic citations and crime levels: more tickets, less crime. Having police visible in the likely boxes should do the same thing.
“Does APD need to know about car “break-ins” where nothing was broken or taken?” He wants to know, especially if someone saw something.Dave Wilkinson said he came to talk about their technology projects, especially Operation Shield. He said after years of crime reduction, the annual increments of reduction are becoming very small, especially for violent crime. So we need to focus on property crime. He said we’ll never have enough police officers on the street to completely prevent crime. Technology can help improve crime deterrence. He believes that deploying cameras around the city is the next best thing to having more police officers on the street. They looked at camera networks in other cities and found that London had the best. New York spent almost $300 million to install 3,000 cameras. This is very expensive and Atlanta cannot afford to establish and maintain a system with 10,000 cameras on that basis. It would be a budget buster every year. They came up with a different model: a public/private partnership. They created a platform that the private cameras could be attached to. They expect to have 11,000 cameras within three years with an overall cost of less than $6 million.
Expecting to monitor all of these cameras is a fallacy. They integrated the camera system into the 911 system. They have police officers at the video integration center (VIC) watching a wall of cameras. When a 911 call comes in, the four closest cameras are switched on to the monitors – the two closest cameras start up on the monitors rewound by five minutes (since the bad guys are ordinarily gone when 911 is called). The investigation can start while the caller is still on the phone. The foundation is now at the point of addressing residential camera needs. The challenge is, who is going to pay for all of this? Senator Isakson and Mayor Reed are looking for a big pot of money, perhaps $25 to $30 million to do cameras all over the city. They got a $1.5 million grant from Homeland Security to do Downtown around the World Congress Center and Georgia Dome. They have another $1 million to link the VIC to each of the police zones. They hope some neighborhood associations in Buckhead might be able to fund some neighborhood cameras. He also talked about license plate readers. He said this is a next-generation policing tool. Rather than using readers to search for stolen cars, they are going to install fixed readers across the city that will record every license plate coming through. He thinks that if a street had a camera and a license plate reader, that would be a strong enough deterrent to keep bad guys away.
They have a reader at 10th and Juniper. It reads about 6,000 license plates per lane per day. If an incident happens with a car of a particular color and model, the tags can be sorted to see if there is a match. Then an alert can be put out for that vehicle. Dave also commented that cameras don’t made crimes move to other areas. Surveys of camera installations show that crime rates in surrounding areas don’t increase when a camera reduces crime in an area. Crimes are crimes of opportunity – if they don’t happen in one place, they probably won’t happen.
Q & A for Dave Wilkinson
Jim King commented that Yolanda Adrean had offered to contribute 50% of the cost for a camera for each neighborhood in her district. “How much do cameras cost a neighborhood?” It would typically about $8,000 to $10,000 for a camera and $6,000 to $8,000 for license tag reader along with an approximate $60 monthly wireless phone bill. “Will neighborhoods be billed by APD for monitoring service?” No cost for monitoring. There will be a one-time licensing fee and, of course, the cost of the cameras. He concluded by saying that the City of Atlanta is on the cutting edge on utilizing these kinds of technology.
V. BOE Candidates
- Ms. Cynthia Brown BOE Seat 9
- Mr. Jason Estevez BOE Seat 8
- Mr. Lori James BOE Seat 8 (Invited but did not attend)
- Hon. Reuben McDaniel BOE Seat 9
Each of these speakers is a candidate for At Large Atlanta Board of Education posts. Each participant was offered and took the opportunity to make a 5 to 10-minute political statement regarding their campaign for election/re-election to the BOE, followed by a Q&A session for each candidate. All performed well and the discussion was polite and professional.
VI. Committee and Liaison Updates
- No report.
- Tom Tidwell reported that the APS facility leasing procedure changes discussed at the October BCN meeting was approved by BOE.
- Did not meet. No report
- No Report.
- No Report.
- No Report.
- No Report.
- No Report.
Transportation, Development and Infrastructure
- Tom Gordon reported that about 200 apartment units were being built in Ardmore Park. John Schaffner suggested we invite Brian McHugh to tell BCN about planned changes for Peachtree Road.
VII. Annual Election of Officers
The BCN Board elected the following officers for 2013/14:
Tom Tidwell – West Paces Northside
Jim King – Chastain Park
Gordon Certain – North Buckhead
Debra Wathen – Paces
Bob Schneider – Garden Hills
Glenn Delk – Historic Brookhaven
Jim King was given standing ovation in recognition of his five years of service as chairman to BCN.
VIII. Community Concerns
X. Next Meeting – December 12, 2013
XI. Adjourn – The meeting adjourned at about 8:15 PM.
Note: The opinions expressed by the speakers and individual neighborhood representatives in these minutes do not necessarily represent those of BCN or its member neighborhoods