Friday, December 31, 2010

More Police = Less Crime?

Chip is filling in for the day here at DunwoodyTalk.   All other staff members are on vacation until Monday.  
Chip, at his desk, using a fresh #2, remains anonymous

What a difference 2 years can make.  Back in April, 2009 Dunwoody rallied around its brand-spanking new police department, with 40 officers, 40 patrol cars and a lot of enthusiasm.  Since then, the police department has added another 6 officers, two sergeants, and joined with neighboring Sandy Springs and John’s Creek in a regional S.W.A.T team.

Voters who approved the formation of the City of Dunwoody did so, in part, to improve neighborhood police presence.  Many implied that DeKalb County had all but abandoned Dunwoody neighborhood patrols, and that Dunwoody was not the safe, secure environment it should be.

Thoughts of a bright, secure future were all around on the night of March 31/April 1, 2009 when the Dunwoody Police Department went “10-8” for the first time.   The Crier quoted then City Councilman Tom Taylor this way,” To the folks on the other side of the law, the season is now open."   The Crier also quoted Chief Grogan’s message to all the bad guys, “We want to make it uncomfortable for you to come here. You won't be tolerated in the city of Dunwoody."

The question has to be asked seriously if the amount of personnel, equipment, and money that the City of Dunwoody has committed to its police department has made good on the expectations of its citizens regarding neighborhood crime and the deterrent of “bad guys” from our neighborhoods.   Crimes of opportunity like vandalism, car break-ins, car thefts, etc. don’t seem to have changed much since Dunwoody PD took over.   Bank robberies also seem to have risen, with two in the last month joining three in the summer for a total of five in the last part of this year.   With the exception of one robbery, all the rest remain “open.”

Dunwoody  and especially Dunwoody Village seems destined to become the banking Mecca of north Atlanta area, with 14 banks within a two mile radius plus an application before the City for a new, larger Chase bank on Chamblee-Dunwoody in the works.  Maybe the number of bank robberies is simply a reflection of the law of mass action.  “Build them and they will come” both customers and robbers, alike.

I’m tempted to suggest that pretty soon the Dunwoody Police Department will ask to open a satellite office in the Village to provide more protection against these types of incidents, which will mean more staffing and equipment requirements.  I know this is a “straw man” that I’m creating, but knocking it down may be useful.
No one is saying that the Dunwoody Police aren’t doing their jobs, or trying hard enough, or aren’t up to the task.  In fact, the Dunwoody Police department has done a great deal to bring about citizen participation in the police process, sponsored many outreach programs, and by all accounts is a tremendous addition to the culture of the City of Dunwoody. But the point still remains, we’re spending almost 1/3 of our city budget on public safety and protection which is allegedly twice what DeKalb County was providing, and the crime rates and visible, public crimes don’t seem to have lessened.

Maybe the idea that “more and more” police presence is the answer to security, isn’t the answer that many hoped for when they voted for the City of Dunwoody.    I hope the City Manager and the City Council take a hard look at the cost/benefit ratio before they continue to add to the Dunwoody Police Department.

No trouble here, DPD at Safe Night Out at Target.  A community event.

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