Published on December 23rd, 2015 |0
Buckhead to get lots of eyes focusing on crime prevention, apprehension
The police surveillance devices that will begin being installed in Buckhead are part of a citywide crime reduction effort named Operation Shield spearheaded by the Atlanta Police Foundation and
being funded by local neighborhoods, commercial property owners and the city.
At its Dec. 2 meeting, the Atlanta City Council approved $600,000 in funds ($300,000 from Dist. 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean’s council carry forward balance and the other a $300,000 city match) to install a total of 50 devices in Buckhead—about 35 license plate readers and about 15 street cameras—which will be mounted to utility poles.
Also, two neighborhood groups in Council Dist. 8 – Tuxedo Park and Peachtree Battle – and the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) have donated a total of $2 million to pay for about 133 more devices, with more than 90 percent of them cameras.
Dist. 7 Councilman Howard Shook told BuckheadView he also has about $450,000 in his council office funds that can be applied to purchasing surveillance cameras and license plate readers in his district.
During the Dec. 15 meeting of the BCID board, Shook told that group that it is important for the BCID to dedicate funds to enhance this program in Buckhead and not just fund a couple of cameras in Charlie Loudermilk Park, which the BCID board has previously approved.
The BCID has previously funded the installation of a dozen or so surveillance cameras to be placed on buildings in the central commercial district of Buckhead, which monitor street activity at key intersections and areas of potential crime exposure.
Those cameras, as well as any new cameras installed in Buckhead, would be monitored 24-7 by trained operators at the city’s Operation Shield monitoring facility in downtown Atlanta, which was largely funded by the Loudermilk family.
The initiative is part of the city’s Operation Shield, a 5-year-old program created by the Atlanta Police Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for the Atlanta Police Department’s programs and works with residents and businesses to reduce crime in the city.
Adrean, a member of the council’s finance committee, got the funding approval for the 50 devices earlier this month, which are a quarter of the nearly 200 she hopes to get installed in her district over the next few years. Adrean said the council’s vote was for the first phase in a three-part plan that could cost the city as much as $4 million.
The Atlanta Police Foundation works with residents and businesses to either add cameras and other equipment or upgrade existing ones. The pan, tilt and zoom cameras the foundation sells to cost $15,000 each and include software, maintenance and data plans for three years.
Fixed cameras cost less and people purchasing the more expensive cameras can save money if they have existing Internet service.
The foundation’s goal is to have 10,000 integrated cameras by the end of 2017, with the majority purchased by the private sector. As an example, there presently are 235 cameras inside Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza that are owned by the malls but are monitored by Operation Shield.
Adrean said the priorities for the cameras in her district are: ingress and egress along the Interstate 75 interchanges at Mount Paran, West Paces Ferry, Moores Mill and Howell Mill roads and Northside Drive public parking areas at the OK Cafe and Houstons lots, the Publix shopping area at Collier and Howell Mill and the West Village and at public schools. She believes most of the West Village area will be funded by Edens and the BCID. Some of those cameras have already been installed and provided by the district.
Dist. 6 Councilman Alex Wan, whose district includes part of southeast Buckhead, said he has gotten approval for $20,000 for devices for one neighborhood, Buckhead’s Brookwood Hills, in a program where each community group must match the amount the city doles out.
Wan was not sure if Brookwood Hills’ community leaders planned to spend all $40,000 on cameras or some on license plate readers or when they would be installed, but that it could pay for up to six cameras. He also said other District 6 neighborhoods could step forward with funds.
Shook wants the BCID to step up and make a major commitment to the surveillance devices in his district and that he would coordinate with the BCID and supplement its program with the $450,000 he said he has available in order to get the best possible surveillance coverage in the district. At present the BCID has committed to two new cameras to be located at Charlie Loudermilk Park.
Shook told the BCID board that this is not a program on which they should skimp in terms of providing funding.