October 9, 2015

CourtWatch Update - October 2015

A message from Danielle Simpson... 

Good morning Zone 6,

I have just a few updates for you.

Street Captains Meeting – I spoke at the street captains meeting on Saturday, September 19th. I must say I am very impressed and happy that Zone 6 has such dedicated community members who are looking out for the rest of the community. I have always said Zone 6 is my most dedicated and active community when it comes to crime prevention and safety.

Update: Defendant Candarius Nalls – Several Zone 6 community members informed our office about Defendant Nalls and his criminal history in Zone 6. He has a history of Burglary and Entering Auto. Defendant Nalls was re-arrested on July 28, 2015 for Burglary and Burglary in the First Degree in Zone 2. Zone 2 Community Prosecutor, Elizabeth Morrow, has taken over the case. I will make sure to invite the Zone 6 community as well as Zone 2 during his hearings.

Update: Defendant Tyrell Alexander – Defendant Alexander was my first CourtWatch case back in April 2015. He was charged with Entering Auto. Zone 6 Community Prosecutor Keith Lamar prosecuted the case and asked the Judge for eighteen (18) months, Defendant Alexander received five (5) months and was then released. He has reoffended and allegedly committed two different burglaries at the 400 block of Arnold Street NE and 300 block of Highland Avenue. He is charged with two (2) counts of Burglary, Theft by Taking, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and more. We will be CourtWatching this case; his previous CourtWatch notice is attached.

Update: Defendant Anthony Davis – Keith prosecuted Davis’ Entering Auto case. The Judge sentenced him to ten (10) years of probation. He was going to be revoked some of the nine (9) years he had left on probation for previous offenses. While waiting for that hearing date and out on Bond, Defendant Davis reoffended. Davis is charged with Criminal Attempt to Commit Burglary, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and more. This incident occurred on the 900 block of Memorial Drive SE. We will be CourtWatching this case and his previous CourtWatch notice is attached.

Update: Defendant Sebastian Fontana – ADA Cara Convery from the Trial Division provided me this information to share with the community. Defendant Fontana was convicted of Hijacking a Motor Vehicle and Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon. The crime occurred on the 900 block of Blue Ridge Ave. Defendant Fontana received ten (10) years in custody and has been banned from Georgia. We greatly appreciate ADA Convery's commitment to the community and to prosecuting these offenses.

Update: Defendant Alonzo Raymond – Defendant Raymond was arrested in April 2015 for breaking into Azio Pizza & Pasta on the 700 block on Moreland AvenueRaymond was arrested and charged with Burglary and Second-Degree Criminal Property Damage and subsequently released in May 2015. Defendant Raymond reoffended in September for burglarizing the exact same location in the community upon his release.

I look forward to informing you of hearings that occur for the individuals listed above. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Danielle L. Simpson, JD
CourtWatch Coordinator
Community Prosecution Division
The Office of the Fulton County District Attorney


136 Pryor Street, Third Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Cell: 678-638-9263
Office: 404-613-8406

“You don’t have to move to change where you live!”

October 5, 2015

Special VaHi Safety Report

Overnight we received this important message from Major T. D. Peek, Commander Zone 6 Precinct, Atlanta Police Department. Please take a moment to read this report on key arrests for armed robbery and theft from autos that affect the Virginia-Highland

Good evening Virginia-Highland Community!

Recently, we shared some information about the apprehension of several suspects involved with armed robberies in the southern most portion of the Zone Six reporting area.  We also understand that there are other areas within Zone Six that has also experienced similar issues but on a smaller scale.  The Atlanta Police Department, particularly the Zone Six command team is very much aware of all crime patterns.  We study crime and crime patterns in real time and deploy resources to bring these patterns to an end.  The most recent patterns are those of robberies and vehicle break-ins.  For both of these patterns and concerns, we have been successful in apprehending some key players who are committing crimes in the Zone Six community as well as other areas in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

As for robberies, since the beginning of September, we have been able to apprehend five individuals for committing armed robberies.  Again, these robbery patterns reached from the southernmost portion of Zone Six and reaches up to the northernmost area in the Virginia Highlands area.  We are confident that we have removed some dangerous individuals from the streets.  We are working diligently to move these investigations forward in attempts to clear other crimes.  Please know that as we study crime patterns, we know and realize that oftentimes, criminals are committing crimes in areas away from where they reside.  It is the responsibility for detectives to build cases against suspects as they are apprehended.  This is an ongoing process and could be quick or slow depending on a number of factors. Please see the following for some successes that we’ve had thus far.
·         9/3 – Two suspects arrested for robbery on McDonough Blvd.  Suspects were caught in the commission of the crime. 
·         09/10 – A suspect was arrested for armed robbery at the corner of Briarcliff Rd and Ponce De Leon Ave.  The suspect was still in the commission of the crime upon the arrival of Zone Six officers.  A citizen called police to report the suspicious activity and since officers were already assigned to the area, their response time was extremely minimal.
·         9/27 – Three suspects arrested for 4 armed robberies and 1 carjacking.  This immediate robbery spree affected the Zone Six community in Fulton and DeKalb counties.  Based on the information gleaned from the investigation, we believe that this group of individuals may have committed crimes in areas from Ormewood Park to the Virginia Highlands.  The investigations are ongoing.  While we have removed three suspects, we know that there are others involved and we are working to identify the others.
·         9/29 – Three suspects were arrested for breaking into vehicles.  This group has been linked to neighborhoods such as the Virginia Highlands, Poncey Highlands, Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward.  Although linked to these neighborhoods, we certainly do not limit them to these neighborhoods as this group has also been linked to other cities and counties.  Currently, Cobb County, Brookhaven, Decatur and DeKalb County Police Departments are all involved with this investigation.  We know for certain, that this group has committed an enormous amount of car break-ins in our community and this investigation is growing daily.  Although arrested on 9/29, two of the three were released from jail on 10/01.
·         10/1 – Two suspects were arrested for many felony charges.  Guns, masks and gloves were located during the takedown of these individuals.  Investigators are looking at these suspects in attempts to tie them to armed robberies committed in club districts such as the Old Fourth Ward, East Atlanta and Virginia Highlands.
I share these incidents so that you understand that the Atlanta Police Department is working extremely hard to keep criminals off of our streets.  Investigations can take some time but know that we are all working hard to solve the reported crimes and to stop future crimes from happening.  We attribute the successes shared above to the deployment of additional marked patrols as well as unmarked (plain clothed) patrols.  We have also deployed bike patrols in some areas and look forward to taking more criminals from the streets.  We are in constant contact with your community leaders and should you have any additional concerns, please feel free to forward to your community leaders and/or myself (Major Timothy Peek tpeek@atlantaga.gov).  We will be sure to address your concerns.  We ask that you continue to partner with us as we continue to strive to make our community the safest in the metropolitan Atlanta area.


Major T. D. Peek
Zone Six Precinct
Atlanta Police Department
2025 Hosea Williams Drive
Office - 404-371-5002
City Cellular - 404-831-0824
Efax    - 404-546-9110

We would like to thank Major Peek for keeping us informed and acknowledging our concerns. I hope that all of you will attend the upcoming NPU F meeting on October 19th (7pm at Hillside) which Major Peek will attend along with other city and county officials.

Stay Safe!

Kay Stephenson

October 3, 2015

What the NPU Means for Virginia-Highland

As we all hurry through our busy lives looking after children, doing our work, and volunteering in the community in one way or another, many of us may have overlooked a critical resource known as the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU).

In the words of Debbie Skopczynski, NPU F Chair, “The NPU is our opportunity to speak to city representatives, and for them to communicate with us. The NPU meetings provide residents and business owners with a chance to meet and speak to city officials they would not otherwise encounter.”

The NPU system was originally instituted by Mayor Maynard Jackson in 1974. It was his way to ensure that all residents would have an opportunity to comment on what was happening in their communities. To ensure that politicians (who might prefer that the public be unheard and compliant) could never strip away the right to be heard, Mayor Jackson included the NPU system within the City Charter. The charter can only be changed by the Georgia Legislature.

There are twenty-five NPUs in the City of Atlanta, and Virginia-Highland is included in NPU F along with Morningside/Lenox Park, Lindridge/Martin Manor, Piedmont Heights, and Atkins Park (which is also a part of Virginia-Highland).

Though originally intended to address zoning, land use, and other planning issues, over the years the charter has expanded to include review of applications for special events such as festivals, and review of alcohol license applications. And though a City of Atlanta Planner is assigned to each NPU and tasked with recording votes and reporting back to city agencies, the NPU itself is staffed completely by volunteers who receive no compensation.

As Debbie Skopczynski indicates, “it is a civic responsibility to participate in the process. Attending NPU meetings and voting on issues is an easy way to do that.” Beyond the idea that we all need to participate, engagement with the NPU can help to keep our community safe and thriving. At NPU meetings you will find APD command staff, Fulton County Community Prosecutors, Alex Wan, your city council representative, Atlanta Fire Rescue, MARTA Police, Code Enforcement, Public Works and others. This is your single best opportunity to share your concerns, to find out what is being done, and to build a relationship with these representatives that will make it so much easier to ask for help in the future.

In addition, recognizing that requirements differ from one area of the city to the next, NPUs are allowed to define the by-laws whereby they operate. The only requirement is that all residents and business owners within the NPU be given an opportunity to vote on the by-laws once a year. NPU F is one of the few that is run democratically. That is, anyone who is a resident and over 18 can vote on any issue before the group. Many other NPUs and neighborhood associations only allow board members to vote.

As it is run today, our NPU is very transparent with agendas, meeting minutes and other important documents all available online at http://www.npufatlanta.org/. At that website you will also find contact information for questions and for key officers.

Since the Virginia-Highland Civic Association is a representative body (meaning that we elect a board and empower them to vote for us), the NPU is the single best opportunity to make your wishes known on specific issues.

If you are concerned about crime and safety, go to the NPU meeting. If you want to be in the know about new businesses opening up in your neighborhood, or what a developer is planning to build, go to the NPU meeting. Wondering about the impact of large festivals and other events, go to the NPU meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday October 19th at 7:00 pm. Meetings are held at the Hillside facility off Monroe Drive.

Perhaps one of the most dedicated volunteers from Virginia-Highland is our NPU F Chair Debbie Skopczynski. Debbie moved to Virginia-Highland in April 1991 and quickly became involved. In addition to a long career with Coca-Cola, and in telecommunications with BellSouth, AT&T, and Cingular, she served on the VHCA board in the early 90s and as NPU Chair in 1996-1997 (during the Olympics). After that she served on the Board of Zoning Adjustment until 2001. And here she is back for another turn as NPU F Chair in the current term.

Debbie continues a long family tradition telling us that, “Citizen involvement is one of those values that my parents shared for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is going to vote with my mother back before there were voting machines. My sister and brother have all been involved or been leaders in their professions or communities.”

Debbie let me know that the part she likes best about her involvement with the NPU and the different community organizations and city departments is being able to connect with others to understand why things are the way they are. She also wants to make a contribution to the community.  Perhaps some of you would like to do that too!

If you would like to volunteer or become more involved in NPU F, election for new officers and committee chairs will occur in November. Officers consist of Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. Committees are being realign in proposed by-law changes, but subject areas addressed include Zoning and economic development, Traffic and Transportation, Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, Environment, Tree Protection and Education, Licenses and Permits (including alcohol licenses), and Education. The nominating committee will present nominees at the October meeting and nominations will also be accepted from the floor at both the October and November meetings.