Amid soaring violent crime, Atlanta announces 'Buckhead Security Plan' for wealthy area
Amid soaring violent crime, Atlanta announces ‘Buckhead Security Plan’ for wealthy area

J.D. Capelouto

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Three Atlanta City Council members on Monday announced their offices are donating a total of $125,000 toward the new Buckhead Security Plan, which is projected to cost over $1.6 million.

The plan, which was announced earlier this month, aims to reduce crime in a popular and upscale area of Atlanta that has seen a rise in shootings and homicides this year. Just last week, 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie was struck in the head by a stray bullet while outside Phipps Plaza mall with her family. Her shooting, which followed several other recent acts of violence in Buckhead’s commercial corridor, prompted public outcry that city officials are not moving forcefully enough to deal with the increase in crime.

Maxie died Saturday after being taken to Children’s Healthcare at Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

Officials from the city, police department, Fulton County and various Buckhead civic organizations came up with the plan over the last few months. It calls for additional police patrols and a strategic grid of security cameras and license plate readers in Buckhead.

The Buckhead Coalition, a group of business and civic leaders, recently announced that the plan could cost $1.62 million to implement; the surveillance camera grid is the most expensive item, at $800,000, while the extra police patrol could cost $500,000. The coalition and the Atlanta Police Foundation are asking residents and businesses to donate to the plan.

Atlanta City Council members J.P. Matzigkeit, Howard Shook and Matt Westmoreland on Monday announced they were putting funds from their office budgets toward the initiative. Shook and Matzigkeit both represent Buckhead council districts. Westmoreland holds a citywide post.

“Securing Buckhead’s commercial corridor is integral to the quality of life for all Atlanta residents, as well as the millions of those who visit Atlanta every year,” Matzigkeit said in a statement. “The Buckhead Security Plan is the fastest and most comprehensive way to address Buckhead crime.”

Shook, who issued a sharp rebuke of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration after last week’s shooting, said his contribution is “on behalf of Kennedy Maxie.”

“Far too many of our residents don’t feel safe, and too many of our men and women in uniform don’t feel supported,” Westmoreland said in a statement. “This plan aims to change that.”

The initiative also hopes to bolster the Crime Stoppers reward pool and tip line in Buckhead and implement a communications system to connect Atlanta police with private security teams in Buckhead.

The Buckhead Security Plan also includes a list of 20 policy proposals, mostly related to enforcement and increasing support for APD. They include cracking down on “party houses,” enforcing the city’s noise ordinance and checking building permits of “problematic establishments” in Buckhead. A full list is available online.

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