VaHi Safety Team Report: May 21, 2013

By: John Wolfinger

More Beltline Safety News

I would like to share with you this excellent latter penned by APD Lieutenant Jeffery Baxter, head of the new Path Force Unit, which is responsible for BeltLine patrolling and safety measures and sent to Street Captain Kay Stephenson who is also a BeltLine Trees Atlanta arboretum docent.  Since this letter was written, Dennis Baker of Paris on Ponce has offered his facility on the BeltLine as a rest stop for the BeltLine patrols, complete with water and hay for the horses.


The Atlanta Police Department (APD), in its strong commitment to the Atlanta Beltline Project, will be launching a new unit within APD, to provide Public Safety to the Atlanta Beltline, it’s adjoining parks, and communities. This comes from a grant awarded to APD from the U.S. Department of Justice. The new unit will be called the APD’s Path Force Unit, and will consist of (15-20) Police Officers that will get out and Patrol the Atlanta Beltline, adjoining Parks and Communities.

The Patrolling methods will come in the form of Foot Patrols, Bicycle patrol, Horse patrol (provided by our APD Mounted Patrol Unit), along with specialized motorized vehicles. In addition to actively Patrolling, we will also offer programs to engage and foster citizen participation through our Community Orientated Policing model. An example of this will be to incorporate a Trail Watch program, similar to a Neighborhood Watch Program but tailored to the Atlanta Beltline Trail sections.

I have been working closely with the Atlanta Beltline since the start of this year in creating the new Path Force unit, and in developing programs. I regularly attend Atlanta Beltline meetings, and provide input on making sure crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) methods are being used in its design.

In addition to receiving other agency’s policies, I have actually traveled to other major cities that have active urban trail systems to study how they deliver Public Safety and programs. I have also partnered with the Rails to Trails Conservancy which is a nonprofit group dedicated in promoting trail systems. This has allowed me to incorporate a best practices approach in our delivering Public Safety to the Atlanta Beltline project.

The Path Force Unit will be located out of the Atlanta Beltline donated space at the Reynolds Town Lofts located at 890 Memorial Dr. directly next to the Reynoldstown Trail.  We plan on launching the new unit sometime in June and plan on inviting all of our stakeholders and community members to a opening event at 890 Memorial Dr .In addition we are planning a media press release for the launch, and plan on using social media and community blogs to communicate along with regularly attending community Neighborhood Planning meetings.

I have included below, several safety tips to be followed when using the BeltLine and our city streets in general.

Lieutenant Jeff Baxter APD

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Walk/jog confidently.
  • Look people in the eye as you pass them. This lets others know you are aware.
  • Don’t wear headphones while exercising. Being able to hear your surroundings will allow you to notice someone you don’t see.
  • Wear shoes and clothing that allow freedom of movement.
  • Carry a cell phone with a full battery charge.
  • Carry a whistle with you.
  • Walk or jog in a familiar area.
  • Avoid secluded areas where there are places to hide.
  • Vary the route you take. Do not take the same route every day.
  • Walk or jog with a companion, especially at night.
  • Wear bright colored clothing so that you can easily be seen; at night wear reflective clothing.
  • Lock your vehicle. Don’t leave valuables, such as purses/wallets/cell phones, visible inside.
  • Always let someone know when you begin your walk or jog. Tell them the route you will be taking and when you plan to return. Inform them when you do return.

APD’s April Report

The April report is at If you are on Facebook – you can “like” Atlanta Police Department and see a day to day report of what they face in real time.

The following reports are gleaned from our APD Zone 6 ( ) crime stats for the 2013 weeks of 17 and 18 ( 4/21 thru 5/4 ) for our VaHi Beat 601, along with news from around the Zone as it affects us.  Again, I state, these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us every day, and to raise your alertness.

Aggravated Assault  – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Auto Theft  – A ’94 Acura was taken from Los Angeles Avenue

Commercial Burglary  – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Burglary  – A North Highland Avenue apartment was entered via a pried open front door. Around the Zone in this time period entry was made to homes 8 times via kicked-in doors and thru unlocked doors or windows 5 times.

Commercial Robbery  – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Robbery  – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Pedestrian Robbery  – A lone male victim was robbed by 2 w/m on Vance Avenue by intimidation as no weapon was shown in an after-dark incident.  The suspects fled in a car.  In the 900 block of Greenwood Avenue in the late night, the victim stated he was being followed in his car by another car.  The victim parked and 3 b/m got out, approached him with one pointing a gun while another punched him in the face.  The victim’s vehicle was taken, with the suspects fleeing in both cars.  If you suspect that you are being followed – keep driving to a well-lit populated place such as a convenience store and then call 911 from your car with a report.

Nearby in Grant Park – three juveniles were arrested after a pedestrian robbery there.  “Apple Picking” thefts of cell phones continues throughout the Zone from unwary pedestrians and folks who leave their phones unwatched in public places.

Larceny From  Vehicle  –  Vehicles were entered on Rosedale Drive, PDL Avenue (3), Drewry Street (2), North Highland Avenue (3), Barnett Street, Los Angeles Avenue (2), Orme Circle, Virginia Avenue, Briarcliff Road, and Bonaventure Avenue.

Please, please remember the Clean Car Campaign and remind your VaHi visitors of the same.  This is one of the easiest crimes to prevent just by not having anything in your car to steal.  Granted, sometimes there are clean vehicles broken into, but the perps are here because of the other cars here that are tempting them.

Larceny Other  –  The CVS drugstore on North Highland Avenue caught a shoplifter.  Movers are suspected in a theft of personal items at the Briarcliff Summit when the victimized tenant was moving to another apartment due to the renovations of this building.  The Open Door on PDL Avenue reported a theft of $416 in cash from a locked desk drawer.  Contractors are suspected in a Hudson Drive theft of jewelry, cash and a checkbook.  You may have perfect trust in your contractor, but you do not know whom all will be in your home during renovations, maintenance work, etc.

The Piedmont @ North Avenues Publix and Walgreens reported 6 shoplifters and the Edgewood Retail District Target and Kroger stores caught 9 non-paying visitors.

Remember that Summerfest is just around the corner on June 1 and 2.  If you live on a street that traditionally has no parking on one side for this festival and you are going to be away during this time – make sure you do not leave your car on the side of the street usually blocked for this event.  Save yourself some hassle and worry.

Remember – “See Something – Say Something” when you spot suspicious people or activity and be sure to call 911 with a report.

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