ATLANTA - On a hot summer day children are playing at an interactive fountain just a stone throw away from the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone One Precinct. It's the hub for police movement in northwest Atlanta where some residents remain skeptical.
“It seems that everybody in the neighborhood knows where the drug dealers are where to get everything illegally, except the police,” said Dr. Regina Sherare, a resident of Zone One. She was among several dozen people who attended a public safety meeting at Salem Bible Church.
Drugs, homicides, homelessness and other issues were raised by the residents. The questions about ample police resources were raised after Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed recently announced increases in police presence at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after the terrorist attacks at the airport in Turkey. He also publically spoke of more police manpower for zones three and four, dubbed Operation Whiplash to cut down on gun violence. There are also the daily pressures on the department.
Deputy Police Chief Erica Shields said a number of partnerships and a police action plan help APD stretch it's resources.
“What the Mayor emphasized, I think, should be focused on. It’s not just the Atlanta Police Department having to problem solve this on our own. We've have more involvement now then we've ever had with our other local state and federal partners,” said Shields.
She heads Field Operations Division for the department and said despite a spike in violent crimes, like aggravated assault and homicides, crimes in zone one are trending down. Shields said partnerships with other agencies can help stretch APD resources, adding it's also important to address the revolving door involving repeat offenders and the courts.
“Many of the offenders are repeat offenders and we have to identify some mechanism to get them in jail or rehabilitation,” said Deputy Chief Shields.
Some at the meeting called for more citizen involvement to help police cut down on homicides, drug dealers, and other crimes. They got a promise from Atlanta City Council member, Felicia Moore, who sponsored the meeting, to keep tabs on APD's efforts.
“I think all hands need to be on deck but the resources are very slim and we need to work on that,” said Council Member Felicia Moore.