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How Safe Do You Feel in East Atlanta Village?

In one survey, Atlantans rank EAV as second-most unsafe neighborhood in the city

Perception.

A lot of our own beliefs stem from our perception of what's real vs. false.

So I read with interest the Atlanta Crime Perception Survey released earlier this month. In it, our East Atlanta neighborhood didn't fare so well in perception of safety.

Of the 600 registered Atlanta voters surveyed, 28 percent said going to East Atlanta for entertainment purposes was totally unsafe, compared with the 54 percent who felt very or somewhat safe.

The only area respondents said they said was less safe than East Atlanta was Southwest Atlanta, where 33 percent said they felt it was unsafe to go there.

Buckhead ranked as the neighborhood survey participants said they felt safest going to for entertainment.

Some 78 percent responded they felt very or somewhat safe going to Buckhead, compared with eight percent who said it wasn't safe at all.

It's true that there's more incidents of crime in some of the neighborhoods that comprise East Atlanta Patch than in Buckhead.

For example, of the seven murders reported last year in the Atlanta Police Department's Zone 6, which includes East Atlanta Village, Kirkwood and Ormewood Park among other neighborhoods, five were in East Atlanta Patch.

That's compared with APD's Zone 2, which includes Buckhead. Zone 2 reported 3 murders for all of 2010, two of which were in the neighborhoods that make up Buckhead Patch.

With robberies, another area of concern all over the city, there were 312 reported in Zone 6 last year, while Zone 2 had a little more than half that figure for the same time period.

So judging by those numbers and crime stats, our area is less safe. But I don't think it's an unsafe area, and the difference is more than semantic.

When I first moved to Atlanta, I lived in Poncey-Highland and bought my home in East Atlanta Village a year later. I was panhandled in both neighborhoods and some of my neighbors have had to deal with auto break-ins and burglaries.

And, a few years ago, one friend was carjacked behind a restaurant on Glenwood Avenue, just down the street from the Flat Shoals Avenue intersection.

Those are annoying, unnerving and scary.

But crime is not just an East Atlanta problem. Crime can and will happen anywhere.

Just last week, there was an apparent in Atlantic Station — an area that came second only to Buckhead in terms of how safe survey respondents felt going there.

And earlier this year, police issued alert in Buckhead following three burglaries and sexual by a man detectives believed to be the same person.

The point is, no area is totally immune.

I do think there are some factors we have in our control that can help reshape perception and reality for East Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods, when it comes to crime.

Some crimes are instances of opportunity. On weekends, I see lots of Georgia State, Emory and Tech kids and other hipsters patronizing the bars in East Atlanta and other hotspots in Little Five Points.

In some instances, I see them walking — er, stumbling — to their cars parked on one of the dark side streets. Even if they're not tipsy, they're sometimes oblivious to what's going on around them because they're busy chatting away on their cell phones at 3 a.m. Other times, I see women going to their cars and upon getting there, they waste precious seconds fumbling around their purses for keys. Again, we shouldn't expect the worst, but we should be aware of our surroundings and who's around us.

You can bet would-be robbers are always scoping for victims they think will give them the least amount of resistance and in most situations avoid those people who are likely to make things a little difficult.

Another thing in our control is the deployment of our police resources. APD's Zone 6 stretches from where Lindbergh Drive crosses I-85 just below the Ga 400 exit on its northern boundary, all the way south past Constitution Road to the Rebel Valley Forest neighborhood.

Zone 2, however, is much more compact with a lower volume of calls.

It's one reason why APD is in the process of its zones to quicken response times and equalize the work load.

That ought to cut down the frequency of crime in Atlanta overall, which has been trending downward, these last few years.

Another component that should help is the sense of community that's developed here. In the nearly 10 years that I've lived in East Atlanta, I've seen the neighborhood change as people have fixed up homes, taken down burglar bars and spruced up their yards with flowers and shrubs. People care to know their neighbors and to know what's happening on their block.

Tank April 26, 2011 at 12:11 PM
I sure as heck have never felt safe in Atlantic Station.....it's creepy there. Like being in the matrix or something. One of the things that (I feel) we do very well in East Atlanta and the surrounding areas is report everything. See a suspicious person? Call 911. Car creeping on your street? Call 911. Door-to-door salesman weirding you out? Call 911. Higher reporting leads to more arrests (again, my opinion), which leads to "higher crime" for our zone and less of a perception of safety. Which, when you ask people if their neighborhood is safe, is what they are giving you. Their own accurate/inaccurate perception.
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 26, 2011 at 12:44 PM
You're right. People in EAV, Ormewood Park and Grant Park are pretty vigilant about calling 911 and pay attention to things that seem out of place. As for ATL Station, I don't feel so worried though that maze of underground parking leaves much to be desired. I also don't see the point in paying to park somewhere when you can go to Lenox Square or Phipps Plaza and shop at the same chain stores for free.
Jennifer Price April 26, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Great piece. I honestly feel really safe in EAV. I think what makes me feel most safe is that there's always "eyes on the street" so to speak. People are always out at all times of night, which makes me feel safe when walking home alone...if something goes down, I'm almost certain someone else will see it.
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 26, 2011 at 02:00 PM
That's true. And I do see more police patrolling the Village center now. But if someone has a 2- or 3-minute walk home, off the main streets late at night, are they more at risk? It seems the problems have occurred away from Glenwood and from Flat Shoals and on the side streets where the foot traffic late at night isn't as heavy.
Amy Wenk April 26, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Nice work, Péralte!
Lewis May 14, 2011 at 02:48 AM
With a business district as popular for nightlife as EAV I believe, as you said, EAV will bring about a crime of opportunity in higher numbers. However, what I also see in EAV is a community that has a very well connected citizenry that uses several methods to create layers of defense to include electronic means such as eavbuzz.net, which has a very active public safety board that often talks not only about recent occurrences of crime, but more importantly, discusses ways to make your home and yourself safer. In addition, another electronic means of communication is eav911, which is an emergency Twitter group that is solely for reporting emerging public safety issues that will allow for as many eyes as possible to be directed where needed as quickly as possible. Other layers of defense include the East Atlanta Security Patrol which supplements APD through the use of off-duty patrol officers and Safe Atlanta for Everyone that includes education for individuals through the offering of Refuse To Be a Victim Seminars, the fostering of the traditional neighborhood watch format as well as the community wide watch entilted SAFE Watch that brings concerned and active East Atlantans together to actively be additional eyes and ears for APD and EASP while getting out into the community to be a visual deterrent for crime.
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 14, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Excellent points, Clue. Thanks for sharing.
Thomas April 30, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I have always felt safe in EAV, and am grateful for the police attention we do get in the wee hours, but I will say that the parking situation has gotten out of hand. With two substantially sized lots closed to the general public we are having to park further and further away. That being said, the further away from the standard foot traffic of the street the common EAV dweller must park the more likely the common EAV predator is to find them. It is time for zoning to get a handle on the parking in the area, solve it and be done before someone gets hurt, or worse.

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