Over the years many neighborhoods throughout Buckhead have supplemented their security with off-duty officer patrols often referred to as ODPs. Some neighborhoods have patrol that operate 24/7 and others patrol fewer hours each week.  Some patrols operate in the off-duty officer’s vehicle and some patrol in vehicles that resemble an Atlanta police vehicle. If you see one of these, you will most likely not know the difference.  Some of these also provide invaluable services to the residents, like checking a home while the occupants are out of town. As a long-time resident of the Paces neighborhood, I saw first-hand how these off-duty officers were extremely effective in deterring nearly 100% of crimes within the neighborhoods borders.

However, the best part of these patrols is they also offer the best form of community policing. These officers get to know the residents and their families, and they themselves become part of the neighborhood. They quickly get to know all the residents and they look after them as if they are family.  

All in all, these patrols are very effective.  Crime statistics show that these patrols have proven to reduce crime in the neighborhoods that have them.  Those in the look alike police vehicles are the most effective.  

But these days, the crime statistics show that most of the crime is occurring along the commercial corridors of Buckhead.  

Responding to concerns

Since becoming Chairman of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods last January, quality of life in Buckhead Neighborhoods was a top priority for me.  I listened to the concerns of these neighborhoods and crime was, their number one concern.  Everyone deserves to feel safe, especially in their homes and out in their community. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case for residents across much of Atlanta and certainly not in Buckhead. Having heard these valid complaints, I decided it was time for us to take action.  

It makes complete sense that if these ODP patrols are effective in neighborhoods, then they should also work in the commercial corridors.  

From a meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, District 8 Councilperson, Mary Norwood’s Public Safety Task Force, the Atlanta Police Foundation, APD Zone 2 and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, the Buckhead Safety Alliance was born.  The mission of the Buckhead Safety Alliance is to have off-duty Atlanta Police officers patrol important commercial corridors in Buckhead.  The Atlanta Police Foundation offered three fully equipped Atlanta Police Department cars and the Zone 2 Command Staff identified 5 commercial corridors needing these patrols.  

These off-duty officers will be active Atlanta police officers and will have full arrest power. By patrolling in fully equipped police cars, they will have the best tools available to do the job.

Their sole purpose will be looking for individuals committing crimes such as car break-ins, unruly behavior, burglary, and any other suspicious behavior. They will only answer 911 calls when there is an active crime along their assigned corridor. Shops and business owners will have the ability to call 911 and then the patrol car directly and take action if necessary.

Corridors for expanded patrols

As you look at the color-coded corridor map, you will see that patrol areas were expanded beyond just the commercial corridors to include the areas where most of the community’s schools are located. It is crucial that we have a safe environment for our young students.   It also was expanded to include Chastain Park where so many of our children play and participate in sports.

Northside Parkway corridor (blue) from Chattahoochee to Moores Mill

Howell Mill corridor (red) from Collier Road to the Buckhead Boundary

Peachtree Road corridor (green) from Brookwood Station to the CID southern border

Roswell Road corridor (yellow) from the BCID Northern border to the City Limits

Piedmont Road corridor (orange) from the BCID Eastern border to the Buckhead Boundary

The color-coded routes do not show coverage in the central business district of the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) because similar ODP patrols were implemented there in 2021 by the BCID. These patrols have also proven to have a positive effect on deterring crime in the downtown business district of Buckhead. However, the BCID can only fund programs inside their official boundaries, so these patrols remain within the BCID area.  The Buckhead Security Alliance will extend these patrols to the other commercial and shopping districts outside of the Central business district of Buckhead.  

Community support

The plan is in place, and the patrols are only waiting on the police vehicles (held up by supply chain issues) but, rumored to be available soon.

However, we need your help to increase funds raised to support this initiative. The more funds we raise, the more hours these patrols will operate. If each business, individual, school neighborhood and multi-family complex helps share in the cost of these patrols, the returns will be huge.

The Buckhead Public Safety Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and all contributions are tax deductible.  If you already give to the Atlanta Police Foundation, continue to give generously to them—you can designate those funds to go to the Buckhead Safety Alliance to ensure that your contribution goes directly toward funding these Buckhead Safety Alliance patrols. Please visit www.BuckheadSafety.org to learn more and make a contribution today.  

Photo of Debra Wathen with APD officer courtesy of jclercworks.