October 18, 2016

VaHi Safety Team Report Weeks 36 – 39 (8/28/16 – 9/24/16)

Note: this is an extra-long report with four weeks of statistics and much more. Please bear with me and read to the end.

News and Notes

Upcoming Road Race(s) and Other Events in the Neighborhood

The American Lung Association will hold their LUNG FORCE 5K Run/Walk on November 5th. The race begins at 9:00 am at John Howell Park and winds through the west side of Virginia-Highland and Morningside ending back at John Howell Park. Please make your plans accordingly.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Meeting: Monday November 14th, 7:00 pm at Ponce Library

Neighborhood Planning Unit F Meeting: Monday November 21st, 7:00 pm at Hillside

VHBA Hosts Kid’s Candy Crawl on October 26th

The Virginia-Highland Business Association has announced they’ll hold the first annual Kid’s Candy Crawl this year.

Meet at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, October 26th at Fire Station #19 (corner of N. Highland and Los Angeles). Stroll south on N. Highland looking for orange balloons. When you see one, stop and get a free treat from one of our local businesses. The Crawl continues from the Fire Station to St. Charles Ave, then turn right on St. Charles and into the alleyway to Knock Music House.

After filling your bags with goodies, head to Atkins Park for dinner. All kids in a costume will receive a free kid’s menu meal.

Volunteers are needed to make all crosswalks safe for the Crawl. Contact Stephen Cohen at scohen49@gmail.com if you are available.

Halloween and Trick or Treat Safety Tips for Parents, Children & Students

October 31st is a fun-filled night for all ages, but the night can also have dangers. While the Halloween safety tips for high school and college age students are somewhat different from those for young children, everyone should take a few minutes to think about how to stay safe.

·         Never allow or invite strangers into your house, dorm or apartment.
·         Avoid areas that are not well lit, and try to walk in high-traffic areas.
·         Travel in groups as much as possible. If you must travel alone, let a trusted friend or family member know where you are and who you are with.
·         Keep your cell phone handy in case you get separated from your group or need to contact emergency services.
·         Make use of safe forms of transportations such as Uber, Lift, or taxi cabs.
·         If you are going to a party venue, familiarize yourself with the fire exits when you arrive so that you are prepared if an emergency evacuation occurs.
·         Be cautious when approaching strangers while in your costume so that you do not draw any unnecessary or negative attention.
·         While you and your friends may have coordinated costumes, strangers may not be as knowledgeable about your costume and its accompanying props. Don’t carry fake weapons. You especially also want to avoid alarming the police.
·         Don’t eat any opened or unwrapped food or candy.
·         Watch for children in the street and on medians when driving.
·         Prepare your home for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns and sidewalks.
·         Keep lit pumpkins away from where children will be walking.
·         Establish a curfew for your children.
·         When leaving the house make sure you lock your doors and set your security alarm.
·         Go only to well-lit houses, remain on porches rather than entering houses and stay in familiar neighborhoods.
·         Travel in groups and be accompanied by an adult.
·         Carry a cell phone for emergencies, and make sure your trick or treaters know how to call 911.
·         Walk, don’t run, and obey all traffic signals, and cross only at corners.
·         Make sure costumes don’t drag on the ground and make sure costumes or masks do not obstruct vision.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Atlanta Police Department to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department is sponsoring a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day provides a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs.  This is the ninth year of this very successful project to assist our residents to clear out their medicine cabinets, empty their bedside tables and kitchen drawers of prescription drugs.

The Atlanta Police Department is encouraging citizens to participate by donating unused or expired medication at any of the police precincts listed below. Investigators from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Division will be on hand to collect the prescription drugs at the locations.

Zone 1 Precinct
2315 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway
Zone 2 Precinct
3120 Maple Drive N.E.
Zone 3 Precinct
880 Cherokee Avenue
Zone 4 Precinct
1125 Cascade Cr. S.W.
Zone 5 Precinct
398 Centennial Olympic Park Drive
Zone 6 Precinct
2025 Hosea L. Williams Dr.

Zone 6 Toy Drive Off to Good Start

John Wolfinger reports finding his first bag of toys on the porch on 10/12! Keep them coming please. Drop new unwrapped toys at 1054 Vance Avenue.

Safety When Shopping and Driving

This past week we read on Nextdoor about a local resident who felt she was being followed around the grocery store by a man she did not know. As she was driving home, she realized he was following her. She drove home and he pulled up and blocked her driveway. Fortunately, this resident knew that a family member was inside with her dogs, so she called and that person came out with the dogs. The man immediately drove away. 

This incident led to a good discussion of safety tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. The two most important are 1) trust your instincts and 2) drive to a populated area – preferably a police or fire station where you can get help. Here are links to more safety tips for walking, driving and shopping:

Back Door Security for Bar/Restaurants

Once again an establishment was the victim of a robbery after hours. Barcelona Wine Bar was hit at 3:00 am Sunday morning. Two males in hoodies and with handguns entered via the back door which had been left open by a dishwasher who was taking out the trash. No one was injured, but the thieves made off with a substantial amount of cash.

This type of theft is becoming fairly common, so please advise all employees to use extra caution late at night. Do not leave doors propped open, or unlocked, and make sure video camera equipment is in good working order at all times. If a manager is on site during clean-up, it might be a good idea for one person to take out trash while another watches from the doorway to deter thieves.

Upcoming Election

Though there are many offices to be filled and a few amendments to consider on November 8th, only a couple stand out as critical to public safety.

First and foremost is the election of our Fulton County Sheriff whose department runs the jail, protects the courthouse, serves warrants and other civil paper, etc. As stated in past reports, Sheriff Jackson has done a good job, correcting many problems from previous administrations. While every resident must research the candidates and reach their own conclusion, I believe it is in the public interest to see Sheriff Theodore Jackson returned to office for another term.

The second issue relates to Amendment #3 which reads as follows:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?”

Since 1972 the state of Georgia has had an independent Judicial Qualifications Commission. The actions of this commission have led to the resignation or removal of more than six dozen judges statewide. The details of a few of those cases can be found in this AJC article.

One of the chief sponsors of the amendment is Johnnie Caldwell, a former judge who resigned as a result of the investigation into his inappropriate sexual comments to female lawyers. After he resigned in 2010, he ran for the state legislature in 2012, and in 2016 we see him seeking to abolish the very commission that cost him his judgeship.

The current commission operates independently of the legislature with two members appointed by the State Supreme Court, three appointed by the State Bar Association, and two appointed by the Governor. The proposal is to eliminate this commission and replace it with one that is essentially under the control of politicians. In the new scheme the State Supreme Court would still appoint two members, the Governor would only appoint one, and the majority (two and two) would be appointed by the Speaker and the Lt. Governor.

Again, we much each educate ourselves before voting on such matters. More information can be found at these links:

I leave you to draw your own conclusions. However, as an avid CourtWatcher, I will be voting no on Amendment #3.

Crime Statistics

The following information is taken from our APD Zone 6 report (http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx).
It includes information from the Virginia-Highland Beat 601 reported incidents along with relevant reports from other nearby beats. Keep in mind that not all incidents are reported. A map showing the location of beats 601 – 612 within Zone 6 can be found at this link 

This information is not shared to scare anyone, but to let you know what happens around us every day so you can be alert and aware.

Homicide None in Beat 601 and none in Zone 6.

Rape None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Pedestrian/Carjacking Robbery One in Beat 601 and sixteen in Zone 6.

On September 16th a man attempted to force open the door of an occupied vehicle at the Kroger on Ponce de Leon. He was unsuccessful and got back into a White Toyota Sienna. As police approached the vehicle, he drove off, refusing to stop and nearly hitting a pedestrian. He struck another vehicle and officers exited their vehicle to detain him. 

At that time the suspect reversed his vehicle hitting the patrol car and then accelerated forward nearly running over an officer. The vehicle then crashed into a tree and the suspect exited the vehicle. When order to the ground by officers, he attempted to return to the vehicle, and was tazed. 

After a struggle the man was arrested. It was learned that the vehicle he was driving had been stolen in Dekalb County earlier in the day as the result of an armed carjacking. Byron Ray Hunter was charged with multiple offenses including aggravated assault, theft by receiving stolen property, driving on a suspended or revoked license, hit and run with failure to render aid, and multiple traffic citations.

Residential Robbery None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Commercial Robbery None in Beat 601 and seven in Zone 6.

Aggravated Assault Two in Beat 601 and sixteen in Zone 6.

On September 1st near a bar on Ponce de Leon, a man pointed a gun at the victim and forced her to remove her clothing. The suspect was subsequently identified and arrested. The victim was not physically hurt during the incident. Kyishon Alexander, age 26 was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

On September 7th at Urban Outfitters the manager was assaulted when she confronted a woman shoplifter. The suspect scratched her, left the store and then returned and used pepper spray on the manager. Police have the vehicle tag number. The manager was not seriously injured.

Nearby on Parkway Drive in Old Fourth Ward on August 30th four individuals were shot including a nine-year-old girl, a fourteen-year-old boy, a fifteen-year-old boy, and a twenty-year-old woman. Victims were in the park at the time of the shooting and made their own way to Atlanta Medical Center. They were unable to provide information about the shooter(s). This case is being handled by the Gun Reduction Task Force.

Residential Burglary One in Beat 601 and thirty-eight in Zone 6.

Commercial Burglary None in Beat 601 and six in Zone 6.

Larceny From Vehicle Sixteen in Beat 601 and one hundred and seventy-one in Zone 6.

Vehicles where entered on Adair Ave., Barnett St., Maiden Lane, Monroe Drive, N. Highland Ave., Park Drive, Ponce de Leon Ave, Ponce de Leon Place, and Virginia Ave. Entry was made via broken windows, and unlocked doors. Taken were multiple purses and wallets, laptops and book bags/backpacks, cash, lawn equipment, and DeKalb Co. police issued gear including a handgun.

Note that on September 21st in a parking lot on Ponce de Leon Place 44 vehicles were damaged. For the purposes of APD reporting this is treated as one incident.

A license plate was also stolen from a vehicle on Cresthill, and another was taken from a vehicle on Ponce de Leon Place. Please remember to check the rear of your vehicle from time to time to make sure the plate is still in place.

Other Larcenies Two in Beat 601 and eighty-two in Zone 6.

On September 10th, a man at the CVS was seen using a first aid spray on open wounds on his body. Timmy James Lehr, aged thirty-two was subsequently arrested and charged with shoplifting.

On September 22nd a set of Bose Headphones were stolen from a mailbox. There is video footage of the suspect removing the package.

Auto Theft Three in Beat 601 and forty-nine in Zone 6.

On September 1st a 2000 silver Pontiac was stolen from the parking lot of The Local on Ponce de Leon Ave.

On September 6th a tan 2005 Chevy Tahoe was stolen from a parking lot on Frederica.

On September 21st a gold 2000 Jeep Cherokee was stolen from Barnett Street.

If this report was forwarded to you and you would like to be added to the distribution, please send a message to me at VaHiSafety@gmail.com with your name, email address, and affiliation. Thanks.

Stay Safe!

Kay Stephenson

October 7, 2016

VaHi Safety Team Report Week 35 (8/21/16 – 8/27/16)

NOTE: Only one week of data

News and Notes

Bolo – Women Groped while Jogging

The following reports are taken from Nextdoor, Fox 5 Atlanta, and 11 Alive news.

In two separate incidents women were jogging during the early evening of Monday September 26th, when they were assaulted by a man on the sidewalk. On incident occurred on Virginia Avenue and another on Greenwood. It was still light out during both assaults. Please be very aware of you of your surroundings. If possible exercise with a friend, and if you must work out alone, please consider leaving the earbuds out so that you can hear someone approach from behind. 

Leaders wanted - Join the Millennial Leaders Citizens Academy

The Atlanta Police Department is looking for leaders between the ages for 18-25! 
The Millennial Leaders Police Citizens Academy encourages participants to provide invaluable feedback to enhance police and community relations. 

The Millennial Leaders Police Citizens Academy includes twenty-plus hours of skilled and professional instruction delivered in three-hour sessions. For more information, contact Sergeant F. Claxton at cpa@atlantaga.gov. 

Classes will be offered on the following subject matter: 

• Law Enforcement Interactions specific to young adults 
• Law Enforcement and Social Media 
• Communications and Video Integration Center Tour 
• Traffic Fatalities and D.U.I. 
• Active Shooter 
• L.G.B.T. 
• Zone Ride-A-Long 
• Criminal Procedure

APD Open Mic Night

On September 21st I attended an Open Mic Night with a panel of speakers from APD, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and Atlanta Fire Rescue.

APD is eager to partner with businesses to integrate existing video cameras. Of 7000 currently integrated citywide, only 750 are city owned. They are also eager to work with neighborhood organization to raise the funds to install more cameras.

Police Shootings. Of 1.5 million contacts in 2015 officers only fired their weapons 9 times. This was with an average of 30,000 to 40,000 arrests in a given year.

The emotional toll on an officer even when a shooting is justified, is significant. Some take a long time to be ready to go back into the field, and some never are able to do the job again. Nationwide, 80% of officers who shoot someone leave policing within 3-5 years.

APD Zone Six 5th Annual Toy Drive & Giveaway

Are you one of those people that does their holiday shopping early? Well then it’s time to think about the toy drive. In past years Virginia-Highland has been extremely generous. Please consider participating again this year. New unwrapped toys are needed for children infant to 14 years old. Donations are being accepted now through December 14th, 2016. 

You can drop off toys at the precinct or on John Wolfinger’s porch 1054 Vance Avenue.  He will deliver toys to the precinct periodically as he accumulates a full car load.

Crime Statistics

The following information is taken from our APD Zone 6 report (http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx).
It includes information from the Virginia-Highland Beat 601 reported incidents along with relevant reports from other nearby beats. Keep in mind that not all incidents are reported. A map showing the location of beats 601 – 612 within Zone 6 can be found at this link 

http://boundaries.atlantapd.org/Map-Zone6-Beats.aspx. This information is not shared to scare anyone, but to let you know what happens around us every day so you can be alert and aware.

Homicide None in Beat 601 and none in Zone 6.

Rape None in Beat 601 and none in Zone 6.

Pedestrian/Carjacking Robbery None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Residential Robbery None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Commercial Robbery None in Beat 601 and none in Zone 6.

Aggravated Assault None in Beat 601 and six in Zone 6.

Residential Burglary One in Beat 601 and seven in Zone 6.

On August 23rd during daylight hours a home was entered on Brookridge Drive via the back door. Suspects stole a rifle and 9mm handgun with ammunition as well as an Xbox, Playstation3, guitar, Macbrook Pro and iPad. Finger prints were found and serial numbers were available for the firearms. However, this is a good reminder that we need to keep a record of serial numbers on electronics as well. These items can easily end up in a pawn shop, were police can recover them.

Commercial Burglary None in Beat 601 and two in Zone 6.

Larceny From Vehicle Eight in Beat 601 and forty in Zone 6.

Vehicles were entered on Glen Arden Way, Greenwood Ave., Lanier Blvd., Maiden Lane, N. Highland Ave. Rosewood Dr., and Virginia Ave. Entry was made via broken windows and in one case unlocked doors. Stolen were CDs, gym bag, landscaping equipment (from the landscaper’s truck at the YWCA), a purse, Fender guitar and Marshall amplifier, backpack with table and glasses, a book bag, and a computer.

Other Larcenies None in Beat 601 and twenty-two in Zone 6.

Auto Theft Two in Beat 601 and nine in Zone 6.

On August 21st a green Jaguar X18 was stolen from 974 Rosedale Road. The report is not completely clear, but it appears that this vehicle was recovered by an alert officer, but the suspect was able to get away.

Also on August 21st a silver BMW was stolen from the 800 block of N. Highland Avenue.
If this report was forwarded to you and you would like to be added to the distribution, please send a message to me at VaHiSafety@gmail.com with your name, email address, and affiliation. Thanks.

Stay Safe!

October 3, 2016

Report for September, 2016 – Virginia-Highland Security Patrol (FBAC)

The activity report is a summary of what our FBAC Patrol Officers do on their shifts

Directed Patrols:  19
Drop ins/Park and Walks:  24
Suspicious person:  3
Alarm Response:  4
Suspicious Vehicle:  4
Parking Complaints:  9
Noise Complaints:  2
Out of town Checks:  16
Abandoned Auto:  0
FBAC member Contact:  2
Lost Person:  0
Street Obstruction:  0
Wanted Persons:  0
Intoxicated Persons:  0
Found Property:  0
Criminal Trespass:  0
Info for Officers:  2
Shots Fired:  0
Calls for service (cell Phone):  4

News and Notes

Attention: Please call 911 first for every issue you have. This includes suspicious persons or activity that you witness. By calling 911 it ensures that if FBAC officers are not on patrol, a police officer is responding to the reported activity. Call the FBAC phone after you call 911. The 911 system is set up to handle all calls through the system, both emergency and non-emergency

Significant Incidents:

Loitering or Prowling 1000 Block of Greenwood Avenue

On September 21st at approximately 2:00 am, Officer R. Whaley initiated a suspicious person stop on Greenwood Avenue. The stop was initiated because Zone 6 units were pursuing a vehicle in the area where two black male suspects had fled. The black male subject spotted in the area matched the description given for one the men being sought. The description given was a black male between the ages of late teens and mid 20s with dark colored sweat pants, a dark colored hoodie, and with his hair in a twist. When stopped he was described as being a black male with slim build, dark colored hoodie, with hair in a twist, also wearing dark colored boxers with black shoes and white soles.

When interviewed the subject was not able to provide a reason for being in the area and he did not know anyone in the area or live in the area himself. When asked how he arrived at the location he said he took the train and walked from the train station. However, he was unable to name any streets he had walked on, said the name of the station was Garnett, and claimed it was “right down the street”. Officer Whaley concluded the subject did not know the area and was unable to provide any detail of when, how, or why he was there.

The subject, Declarence McGhee was place in custody and charged with prowling and transported to Fulton County Jail. He will be further investigated as a possible suspected driver of the vehicle being pursued by Zone 6 officers in relation to multiple vehicle larceny’s throughout the city during the night and early morning.

Mr. Mcghee has a criminal history including obstruction of police, driving stolen vehicles, prowling, drugs, larceny from vehicles and pulling on doors of vehicles. He also is also currently on probation for previous offenses and has a five-point star tattoo, which resembles the symbol of the Bloods gang, on his neck.


All members call 911 first if you see a crime in progress or a suspicious person or activity, and then call the FBAC Phone. The phone number is (770) 310-0871 and is also on the schedule that is emailed to you monthly.

If you see someone or something suspicious, please report it to the police.  When driving or out walking keep an eye out in the neighborhood, what you see and report just might prevent a crime.

Note: Part one crime statistics from the Atlanta Police Department are available online and will be included in the VaHi Safety Team Reports which are distributed by Neighborhood Watch approximately twice per month through our network of street captains. If you do not know who your street captain is, please send a message to ebarrsafety@gmail.com with your name and street address, and Eleanor Barrineau will connect you.