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David Bishop, Flatiron's Owner, Wants an East Atlanta Security Patrol

East Atlanta businessman has been canvassing the Village businesses to help kickstart a fund to have an off-duty police officer patrol the EAV's central business district.

To combat crime and fears about public safety in East Atlanta, an owner of the in East Atlanta Village is spearheading an effort to create a security patrol to hire off-duty Atlanta police officers.

David Bishop, the majority owner of the Flatiron, which he opened 15 years ago, said getting a handle on the muggings and making it safer for patrons is critical to keep the business district thriving.

"I hear about people getting mugged all the time in the Village," Bishop told East Atlanta Patch, noting the most recent incident occurred in the 1200 block of Glenwood Avenue Tuesday night.

"There is a perception that business districts in Atlanta are more dangerous than it used to be. If we don't do something about it in East Atlanta Village, it's going to get worse and worse."

While overall reported crime is down about five percent citywide for the period between Jan. 1 through Aug. 14, some of the more serious transgressions have increased slightly Atlanta Police Department statistics show.

Aggravated assaults are up 3 percent, while auto break-ins increased 2 percent across the city. Robberies are statistically unchanged.

In APD's Zone 6, which includes East Atlanta, Inman Park and Virginia-Highland, aggravated assaults are up 10 percent, while auto break-ins are up 23 percent for the same period. Robberies are actually down 5 percent.

Even so, the headline-grabbing crime incidents is what fuels the perception that parts of the city are unsafe, Bishop said, citing a July 22 incident in Inman Park where two women were accosted by a gunman who fired at them.

"They're spooked," Bishop said. "They see it on the news, they see the stories."

Bishop, who said he has canvassed 15 neighborhood businesses so far, estimates it would cost about $47,000 a year to fund the security patrol.

As he envisions it, that would be enough to hire an off-duty Atlanta Police Department officer for at least five days a week, which would include weekends.

He said he plans to make a formal request to the East Atlanta Community Association for a grant, in addition to getting fellow business owners to contribute.

If it comes to fruition, East Atlanta would join other East Atlanta Patch neighborhoods that have security patrols including in his Grant Park neighborhood, Old Fourth Ward, Kirkwood and Inman Park.

Bishop's proposal is slightly different from those efforts in that it would only cover the EAV's core business district along Flat Shoals Avenue from the to the soon-to-be-open Argosy bar, and Glenwood Avenue from the to .

East Atlanta has a security patrol, too, but Bishop's plan for the business district has the officer patroling only the core Village on foot.

Asked if he thought some business owners might scoff at having to pay for a security patrol when their business taxes already go toward supporting city services like the police department, Bishop said it's about being proactive.

"The police force has a certain number of officers on duty and they can't increase that without increasing taxes even more," Bishop said.

"We're at a point where we can either complain about it and nothing will be done or we can be proactive about it and hire a force of our own, which is essentially the same police officers."

Please click on the video to hear a portion of our interview.

Lisa Edgars August 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
This is something I would totally like to see. The Atlanta Police Department is pretty much non-existant other than giving tickets out for traffic citations. I know it's pretty hard to see at night as most of the police cars I see have tinted windows. I truly hope the business owners take matters into their hands to protect its patrons like myself as I love my neighborhood and hope it continues to grow in popularity.
Mr. Carter August 23, 2012 at 07:33 PM
The drug dealers ought to step up to confront the problem of crime in EAV. They have: 1. the muscle/intimidation factor/authority/cred 2. a vested interest in people feeling safe to come party in the village 3. a vested interest in keeping police presence low Muggings are BAD for dealers in the village...perhaps the community/neighborhood watch should reach out to those individuals and ask what kind of commitment they can make to reducing/deterring violent crime.
Lewis August 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM
The amount that EABA has will not cover the cost for a dedicated officer; however, I would make the suggestion that limiting the officer to Thursday, Friday and Saturday would help the budget. It also is the main time that the bar customer traffic needs to feel the most safe in order to continue to keep their business. I have previously reached out to EASP about adding an officer for just those three days, and I think if anything was to be done a conversation between EABA, EACA and EASP would be very worthwhile first. As far as using limited funds for cameras, I disagree that cameras would do more to detour. First, creating a safer environment is as much to do about perception, given that the numbers do not justify the comment that "muggings happen all the time" especially considering this idea is really about given a sense of safety since the muggings that have happened, for the most part, are outside of this proposed footprint. Second, I feel that cameras only change the way a criminal perpetrates a crime versus actually stopping a criminal. When strapped with limited funds I would push for better exterior lighting and/or a dedicated officer.
Péralte Paul August 23, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Hey, ELF: Even though we're in DeKalb County, we're still in the city limits so DeKalb police don't patrol here. I tried to flag one down here one time and he basically told it wasn't his problem and to call APD.
Kelly Riedinger August 23, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Most definitely. Making EAV safer would be a boost to not only business owners, but residents.

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