In its latest effort to be proactive with respect to public safety and crime concerns, Grant Park going retro: The historic Atlanta neighborhood is forming a neighborhood watch.
The effort is part of the community's efforts to supplement its regular police patrols and the off-duty Atlanta Police Department officers who monitor the neighborhood through the Grant Park Security Patrol.
The neighborhood watch, organizers explained during a community meeting Saturday, is one additional shield for Grant Park in its anti-crime arsenal.
There are regular police patrols, of course, and the neighborhood started the security patrol more than 20 years ago, hiring off-duty Atlanta Police Department officers to provide additional patrols several hours each week.
The neighborhood watch would be another crime prevention layer.
The neighborhood watch concept, which goes back to 1972, organizes residents block by block, who keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, around the clock.
Lake Claire, for example, has a neighborhood watch program it founded in 2009.
A key part of that is communication, explained Chris Newman, chairman of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association's Public Safety Committee.
These watches get neighbors talking to one another, getting to know their regular routines to quickly spot when something's out of the ordinary.
"It's just to kind of to get to know your neighbors, understand their habits and behaviors," said Jeff Swing, who will be heading the Grant Park's watch program. "That will have amazing impact on the crime that happens in the neighborhood."
Like many neighborhood watch groups, the different streets will have block captains who will call their respective neighbors when the situation warrants and to keep in touch with each other.
They won't be armed as part of their duties, Swing said, explaining the protocol is for members to call police at the sign of trouble or mischief.
Essentially, neighbors need to be nosy, much like Gladys Kravitz, the fictional character who was always spying on the Stevenses in the television series Bewitched.
"Ms. Kravitz was nosy and that's a good thing," APD Crime Prevention Inspector Selena Swoope told residents. "That's all you're doing, you're just looking out for each other."
Grant Park hasn't been hit with the rash of serious crimes that have occurred in nearby Cabbagetown, Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward.
Still crimes in other areas have direct impact on Grant Park, because the neighborhood's beat officer, who is assigned to patrol its streets, ends up being called to help officers in other communities.
"Many times, many, many times, our beat officer is pulled to assist at a shooting on Boulevard by the Atlanta Medical Center or an armed robbery on Moreland Avenue," Newman, who also is treasurer of the Grant Park Security Patrol said.
Residents who attended the meeting also had the opportunity to address Major Keith Meadows, commander of Zone 6, which includes Grant Park.
Meadows said there have been a number of serious crimes in the zone but that overall, crime is down.
Still, some areas of concern — car break-ins, and auto thefts — remain, issues that Meadows said Zone 6 is targeting.
Residents noted that speeding is an issue, too, particularly on Grant Street and Boulevard and continued shootings around the Trestletree Village Apartments on Confederate Court, near the Grant Park and Ormewood Park border.
Meadows said he met recently with Trestletree management in the offices of Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith and the initial results were promising.
Interested in joining the Grant Park Neighborhood Watch? Sign up at this link.
Here are some other important Grant Park groups you may want to join to keep informed about what's happening in the neighborhood:
- The neighborhood's official website is www.gpna.org and to be kept up-to-date on neighborhood goings on, complete the "join our Neighborhood News” section and provide your information. When necessary, GPNA can e-mail everyone in the 30315 and 30312 Zip codes.
- Follow the neighborhood by “liking” its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GrantParkGPNA
- It's Twitter handle is www.twitter.com/GrantParkGPNA
- The Grant Park Security Patrol is at: http://gpna.org/security-patrol