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.
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.