March 28, 2017

Report on Spring 2017 Neighborhood Watch/Safety Meeting

A good turn-out of Street Captains
On Saturday, March 4th at Church of Our Saviour, VaHi safety captains and other interested residents gathered for the annual Safety Captains’ meeting. In attendance were experts from the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to explain how they are using cameras to fight crime. There was also a discussion led by the VHCA Safety Committee about what residents and businesses can do within our neighborhood to reduce crime.

Street Cameras
VHCA Vice President Kay Stephenson introduced the topic of street cameras by noting that we have taken a big step in technology in the last year. There are now 9 street cameras installed, including 3 purchased by VHCA with financial support from Alex Wan. These cameras are the ones that show the blue lights, and they run all the time.  The blue lights are a great deterrent, and the crooks try to avoid areas where they are.  There is also a plan to have cameras and lighting  all up and down the Beltline.

Business and resident cameras
In addition to using the police street cameras, the police Video Integration Center (VIC) can take advantage of business cameras if they are integrated into the system. (This has already happened at Lenox Mall.)
Therefore:
·        VHCA wants to do a survey of all businesses in the neighborhood to see who has cameras, and what type, to see if they are compatible with the VIC.  If not compatible with the VIC, they would be eligible for our registry (see below).
·        We will also reach out to residents to see if they are willing to identify theirs—those would not be integrated because of privacy and because home cameras have lower quality than police cameras. But they could be a useful resource, and in some cases already have been.
·        Accordingly, VHCA has started a registry (both residential and business) of who already has cameras in the neighborhood. This is a voluntary program: You are not obligated to turn video to police.  But they may contact you using the registry if there is an incident near your location.
Anyone interested in helping with this project, or who has a camera, can get in touch with Kay or Eleanor or email us at safety@vahi.org.

Street cameras and Tag Readers
Marlon Trone talks about Video Integration Center
Next, Marlon Trone, of the Atlanta Police Foundation, explained how the Foundation supports police. It’s a private-public relationship, like the Piedmont Park Conservancy and City of Atlanta owned Piedmont Park. The Police Foundation runs the Crime Stoppers Program and the Video Integration Center (VIC), among other initiatives.  One of its initiatives is to evaluate police cameras before they are purchased, and help determine how they are used.
The VIC has computer monitors that pull up streaming video from street cameras. The purpose is to support first responders and investigations. When there is a 911 call, the 4 closest street cameras are instantly activated. 2 can be rewound 5 minutes to help begin an investigation. The real-time ones show what is happening right now—for example, a victim on the ground.  Also, tag readers are being installed—there are about 200 right now. They ping if a suspect car passes them, so police can head over there. These have been very successful.
There has been a 40% reduction in crime where cameras and tag readers are installed. They are also a deterrent, which is why they have blue lights and signs. Tag readers snap pictures, transform them to data, and check to see if this owner is wanted.

Body Cameras
Officer Mercado and Sgt. Reyes discuss Body Cameras
Next, Officer Joseph Mercado of the APD led a discussion and demo of police body cameras. Cameras have now been rolled out in Zone 6.  Body cams provide transparency and serve as a behavior modifier for both ends. Police are able to see how they interact with the public and learn how they could have interacted differently. Also when a person realize they’re being recorded, it tends to improve the tone of that person when talking to the police.
Zone 6 has had their cameras since the beginning of January. By summer, all officers that answer 911 calls will have body cameras. Officers wear them their entire shift and if they are working off duty (like FBAC) they wear them then as well.
How the body cam video is used. If there is an incident, officers can later enter information into the recording about the incident, which goes into a database that can be part of a wider query later. The hope is to get better prosecution. Video can show the judge that the person has done something multiple times. The judge can see the actual video, not just a report, and this has more impact. By state law all videos are kept for 6 months, indefinitely if a crime has been committed. Footage cannot be deleted by the officer. Only an administrator can delete. The recordings are also encrypted—they only work on supervisors’ docks. So no one can download to their computer. There is an automatic audit trail of who viewed a video and that audit trail can't be deleted.
A body cam records exactly what the officer sees, so his perspective is what can be demonstrated. If the officer is looking into headlight glare, then that’s what the camera sees, too. There are no filters, by design. It’s a critical part of fairness to show exactly what the officer was seeing. Officers have guidelines on when to turn the body cam on.  In addition, the Police Foundation is currently working with the manufacturer to possibly create a trigger—for example, turning on blue light could automatically start the camera.  When an officer activates a body cam, it automatically includes the prior 30 seconds in the recording.
Body cams cost $399 each. Docking them after a shift automatically downloads and charges the battery.

Safety Committee initiatives for safety captains to pass on
Next, VHCA Safety Chair Eleanor Barrineau led a discussion on Safety Committee Initiatives that safety captains can pass on to their streets:

1. Lighting.  We want to be sure that bikers, pedestrians and people getting in and out of cars are safe. So we are looking to improve lighting in dark areas. On your own street, encourage people to keep porch lights on, and to have driveway lights. We recommend dusk-to-dawn light bulbs (Home Depot has them—they look like regular light bulbs and screw into a regular light fixture, but they automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn). 
We want people to feel safe walking from the Beltline to our business district and walking around the neighborhood. If you see a dark spot that needs attention, talk to the homeowner or let us know via safety@vahi.org. Walk your street and report street lights out (GA power for wooden poles, City for metal poles).

2. Graffiti. If you see any, send to graffiti@vahi.org. Include a picture if possible. Dept of Corrections crews work on those under the supervision of an APD officer. These crews can remove debris as well, such as sometimes appears on Maiden Lane.

3. Event impact. Elmwood captain Jo Ann Zyla said that we want to let neighbors know when events are coming up that affect traffic and parking.  Accordingly, the vahi.org calendar at the bottom right of the home page has been expanded to include many different events that could affect traffic and parking. You might even want to participate, knowing an event is going on.  NPU-F is assisting our effort by sending security contact information for the largest events, and also sending event organizers information about preferred special parking arrangements on nearby streets.
Officer Evans, Beat 601
4. Homeowner cameras. Email safety@vahi.org to let them know you have a camera. The Safety Committee can then include these on a registry that police can use. So Street Captains, please let your neighbors know about that.

5. Directed Patrol. Can call Zone 6 (404-371-5002) to request a Directed Patrol if you have an ongoing issue, such as excessively heavy trucks cutting through from Monroe to the old Kroger using Park Drive.  (Kay and Eleanor would appreciate knowing also if you have reported  a major ongoing issue.)
6. When to call 911 and when to call 311. For any crime, call 911. 311 is very effective for things about which you don’t need immediate police action, such as potholes, leaks in street, street services. You can get a ticket number and their follow-up seems to be good.

Finally, our thanks to the police/police foundation representatives who helped make the meeting a success: Michael Faughnan, Sgt. Julio Reyes, Marlon Trone, Officer Joseph Mercado and Officer Evans.

January 30, 2017

VaHi Safety Team Report Weeks 46 and 51 (11/6/16 – 12/17/16)

News and Notes

Please note this is a report for six weeks of data. Due to the demands of the holiday schedule APD is just getting caught up on reports to the community. Because of the large volume of data, crime may appear high, but averaged over time, it is about normal for this time of year. However, thefts from auto at thirty-six over a six-week period is high and of concern.

Street Captains Needed

Recently the safety team did a refresh of our list of street, block and building captains and discovered we have a few areas in the neighborhood where residents have not been receiving these VaHi safety reports. To fill the gaps, we are looking for a point person to handle this simple task on the streets below. As experienced captains, we are hoping you may know someone on these streets that would be a good candidate.
Streets needing a Captain:   


Amsterdam Av (Monroe to Beltline)
Barnett St (Highland View to St Charles)   
Bellevue Dr  
Bonaventure Av  
Briarcliff Ct  
Briarcliff Pl (Barring condo bldg.)
Briarcliff Rd (Ponce to Virginia)
Briarcliff Ter  
Greenwood Av (N Highland to Barnett)
Monroe Dr  
N. Highland Av (CVS to Rosedale Dr)
Park Dr (West of Monroe)
Saint Augustine Pl  
Stillwood Dr (Los Angeles to Rosedale)
Virginia Av (N Highland to Rosedale) 
Virginia Av (Rosedale to Briarcliff)


If you have someone in mind, please contact Eleanor Barrineau ebarrsafety@gmail.com or Deborah Schwarz at gweazle@yahoo.com. We are always interested in bringing in new folks to our safety effort, so if you know anyone who may be interested in getting involved with safety, encourage them to come to our March 4th meeting.  Another great opportunity for folks who want to get involved with the neighborhood is VHCA's Open House on January 29th (details below).

Neighborhood Watch Safety Meeting

We are excited to announce that our next Street Captain meeting will be Saturday March 4th at 10 am at Church of Our Saviour on Los Angeles at N. Highland.
An agenda will be sent later, but we hope to have a presentation about security cameras/police bodycams, as well as an opportunity to update the attendees on neighborhood safety initiatives and share best practices from the Captains.
As with our other Street Captain meetings, all residents interested in safety are encouraged to attend.

VHCA Committee Open House

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association is holding a committee open house on Sunday January 29th at DBA Barbecue from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come out and learn more about what VHCA does for the neighborhood and how you can get involved to make Virginia-Highland better. Free appetizers and cash bar. http://vahi.org/vhca-to-host-committee-open-house/.

CourtWatch Lunch & Learn on Gangs

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, through their CourtWatch Program is sponsoring a series of “lunch and learn” sessions on a variety of topics. On January 20th, they hosted a panel of experts from APD, Fulton County Police, Fulton County Schools, and the Assistant District Attorney responsible for gang prosecutions. We learned that in metro Atlanta we have a total of 135 gangs with approximately 2,200 identified members.
Most the local gangs are affiliated with the Bloods. In addition, there are gangs affiliated with the Inglewood Family and Crips (all California based gangs), and Gangster Disciples. There are also many juvenile gangs such as Down for Whatever (DFW) active in Atlanta. For the juvenile gangs, drug use is pervasive.
A few highlights from the discussion:
·         It is not illegal to be in a gang. To charge an individual with being in a criminal street gang, they must be engaged in criminal behavior.
·         The age range in local gangs is 12 – 30 years old. Older members run the gang. Often the younger members join as a family substitute.
·         The primary reason that gang members are breaking into cars is to find guns. If they break into 100 cars and net 2-3 guns, then that’s a good night.
·         There is a connection between some rap music businesses and gangs. Some rappers were members of gangs as youths and bring other gang members with them into the business as they achieve success.
·         Georgia is currently the number one recruitment area for national gangs.
·         Gangs don’t need to be physically present to recruit within a neighborhood. They are using social media to recruit young people.

Body Cameras

Atlanta Police Department Zone 6 has recently implemented body cameras for all officers. Read more about this program on the VHCA website http://vahi.org/local-police-officers-will-soon-be-wearing-bodycams/.

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 one in Zone 6.

Rape None in Beat 601 and three in Zone 6.

Pedestrian/Carjacking Robbery Two in Beat 601 and twenty-four in Zone 6.
On November 8th, the victim asked an acquaintance to assist him with a job. Once the work was completed there was a dispute over payment and the acquaintance and victim began to fight. The acquaintance pulled a knife and after taking all of the money, he fled.
On December 8th, a man was assaulted on Cresthill Avenue. He was struck in the head with a pistol. The suspect demanded his keys, but then fled without taking them. Fortunately, Officers Sheppard, Williams and Dobbler mounted on officers Joke, Oreo and Jake were able to apprehend three juvenile suspects who were charged with criminal attempt at robbery. Three cheers for the mounted patrol.

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

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

Aggravated Assault None in Beat 601 and twenty-two in Zone 6. 

Residential Burglary Two in Beat 601 and sixty-one in Zone 6.
On November 13th, a residence under construction on Adair was burglarized via a pried open back door. A stove was taken.
On December 4th, the rear doors of a residence on Drewry were damaged, but nothing was taken.

Commercial Burglary Eight in Beat 601 and nineteen in Zone 6.
On November 29th, several businesses at 695 Pylant were burglarized. Entry was made through a damaged door.

Larceny From Vehicle Thirty-six in Beat 601 and 271 in Zone 6.
Vehicles were entered on Amsterdam, Hudson, Lanier, Los Angeles, Maiden Lane, Maryland Ave., N. Highland, Rosedale Road, St. Charles Avenue, St. Louis Place, Virginia. Entry was made via broken windows, unlocked doors (nothing taken), and from a landscape truck (tools were secured with cables but the suspect had bolt cutters). Victims lost backpacks, a briefcase, five tablets, headphones, two Stihl blowers, multiple cameras, eighteen laptops, a set of golf clubs, and miscellaneous clothing and other personal items.
In one case the bag that previously contained two laptops and an iPad was found by AFR on I-20 during a suspicious package call.
Cameras did catch at least one of the break-ins on Ponce de Leon Avenue, and in some cases fingerprints were found.

Other Larcenies Ten in Beat 601 and 152 in Zone 6.
On November 14th, two locked bicycles were stolen from a parking lot on Greenwood.
On November 16th, the victim was moving when her TV went missing.
On both November 23rd and 24th, cigarettes were stolen from the Standard gas and convenience. Arrests were made in both cases.
On November 30th cash was stolen from a business on Ponce de Leon Place
On December 2nd, a rug was stolen from a residence on Saint Augustine Place. It had been left outside for pickup by UPS.
On December 5th, a locked bicycle was stolen from a second-floor railing.
On December 12th, packages were stolen from a secured lobby on Greenwood.
On December 14th, a wallet was taken from Bookhouse Pub.
Also on December 14th, a bicycle and bag were stolen. However, a security guard interrupted the theft and the suspect fled without the stolen items. Police arrested Gilber Conley on outstanding warrants.

Auto Theft Seven in Beat 601 and fifty-five in Zone 6.
On November 8th, a 2010 red Toyota was stolen from the Friend’s parking lot on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Also on November 8th, a silver Infinity was stolen from the parking lot at The Local on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
On November 11th, a gray Lexus was stolen from a parking lot on Bonaventure Avenue. The vehicle was later recovered when an anonymous person called the victim and told her that they had found the vehicle and her business card in the car.
On November 13th, a white KIA was stolen from the driveway of apartments on Briarcliff Terrace.
On November 15th, a white Ford F15 was stolen from a parking lot of apartments on Briarcliff Place.
On November 22nd, a black trailer was stolen from the driveway of a residence on Virginia Avenue.
On November 28th, a green Dodge was stolen from the street near 744 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!

Kay Stephenson

December 30, 2016

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

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

Directed Patrols:  31
Drop ins/Park and Walks:  28
Suspicious person:  6
Alarm Response:  4
Suspicious Vehicle:  3
Parking Complaints:  2
Noise Complaints:  1
Out of town Checks:  25
Abandoned Auto:  0
FBAC member Contact:  6
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):  8

News and Notes


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 an on duty officer is responding to 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


Robbery on Park Drive


On December 8th officers were called to the 500 block of Park Drive with a report of a pedestrian robbery. The victim stated that as she was walking on the street she saw three black males on the other side of the street. One crossed over, produced a gun and demanded her purse. She gave him the bag and the three males fled into Piedmont Park. All three males were wearing dark clothing and one had a pink backpack. The suspects were described as young and estimated in their 20’s. The male with the gun was approximately 5’8” with a thin build and short hair. Of the other two who remained on the opposite side of the street, one was described as having a larger build and the other was the one with the pink back pack.

Police canvassed the area and located the victim’s purse just inside Piedmont Park. All items were located except her house keys. A water bottle that had been in the purse and was located a distance away was submitted for latent print analysis.

While this investigation what underway, another robbery was attempted near the park. All units responded including mounted patrol. The three males were spotted near 10th street. Officers Dobler, Sheppard and Williams riding officers Jocker, Oreo and Jack pursued and stopped the males at Walker Terrace. At the time both the pink back pack and a Glock 23 (stolen from Gwinnett County) were located with the suspects. The victim was unable to positively identify the three but a judge issued an arrest warrant.

Attempted Carjacking on Cresthill (Second incident from above narrative)


On December 8th officers responded to an attempted carjacking in the 500 block of Cresthill Avenue. The victim reported that he was outside when a male struck him in the face with a pistol. The suspect demanded his car keys, but then fled without the keys or vehicle. A witness indicated that there were four black males. The one who struck the victim was wearing a blue and white hooded jacket. The victim was transported to Grady hospital for treatment. The suspects were apprehended and arrested by mounted patrol as described above. This is an excellent case of quick reporting to 911 allowing police to connect the dots and arrest suspects quickly.

Burglary on Drewry



On December 4th an officer responded to a report of damage to property in the 1000 block of Drewry Street. Rear doors to the residence were damaged. This home was under construction, and nothing was found to be missing inside.

Robbery on St. Charles


On December 21st an officer responded to two victims who advised they had been walking home from a local bar when they were approached by two black males approximately 18 years of age. Victim one was struck in the back of the hear with what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun. Victim two was also struck in the back of the head with a similar looking gun, possibly a 9mm. Both victims were instructed to hand over wallets and cell phones. Both handed over their belongings. Suspect one was described as approximately 6’ tall weighing 140 pounds and being very skinny. He was wearing a black t-shirt with jeans. His hairstyle was very short on the sides and dreads on top with highlights. Suspect two was described at a skinning black male about 6’3” with a low haircut. He was wearing all black. Officers attempted to track the telephones, but neither victim could remember the proper password. No cameras were located in the area of this incident.

Reminders


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 on the schedule that is emailed to members 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. These statistics will no longer be duplicated here. If you have questions about this change, please send a message to vahisafety@gmail.com.

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.

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