Staying Safe in Atlanta

Everybody and their brother is talking about the kidnapping that took place in my neighborhood, East Atlanta, on Saturday night (Sunday morning, actually). In case you haven’t heard about it, two lawyers were abducted after leaving a bar on Glenwood Avenue, then driven to a house in Cabbagetown, where they were held hostage until they were found by police on Sunday. Most of the discussion is about whether the neighborhood is a safe place to live. As far as I can tell, though, most residents, especially those who have been around for years, think it is as safe as any other urban neighborhood in Atlanta. I agree.

One problem with this discussion is that Atlanta as a whole, when compared with other cities in our nation, is just not that safe. A recent Creative Loafing article by John Suggs included a comparison of the likelihood of being a crime victim in Atlanta with other U.S. cities. Based on FBI statistics, he came up with the following: One in 64 people in Atlanta were victims of violent crime in 2006. Compare that with NYC (one in 149 people) or LA (one in 127 people). Yikes.

But what about within our city? I took a cursory look around the web to see if I could find crime statistics for different Atlanta crime zones/precincts. Either I am a terrible researcher, or someone doesn’t want me to be able to compare the crime rates for Atlanta neighborhoods. I could find monthly crime reports by zone, but no way of comparing all zones during a month, and more importantly, I’d like to know how they compare over a larger period of time (for instance, within the year 2006). Anyone know of a good place to find reliable crime statistic comparisons for neighborhoods or zones in Atlanta? Please enlighten me.

Another interesting question raised by this incident is this: Which neighborhoods are perceived as being the safest and which are seen as the most dangerous? People who live in the burbs probably feel that intown living is more dangerous. I live in a supposedly sketchy neighborhood, but i would way rather walk home from a bar late at night in my neighborhood than walk home in Buckhead late at night; This is purely conjecture, because I just don’t go to Buckhead. (Note: I also don’t walk anywhere late at night by myself. Period.)

What can one do to stay safe in Atlanta? We have a dog. Dogs go a long way towards keeping people from lurking around. So do motion sensor floodlights and leaving cars empty of tempting valuables. Reporting crimes and suspicious behavior helps the police to better manage staffing in problem areas. The single biggest thing we can do, though, to improve security is get to know one another. Introduce yourself to your neighbor. Smile at a stranger. Kind behavior begets kindness.

This is all kind of rambling and I apologize for that. I am just thinking about how much I enjoy my neighborhood, and how sad it makes me that people might see it in a particularly dangerous light. I am thinking about how much I love my kids, about what environment is best for them to grow up in, and about what a delicate tightrope walk it is attempting to show children diversity and acceptance while keeping them safe.


22 Comments so far

  1. Stacy (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

    I hate that this happened in East Atlanta because that area is trying so hard to build-up and get business. I too get annoyed by suburbian residents who call living in Atlanta “the ghetto” or a high-crime area. I live in the VA Highland area and our biggest crime is car break-ins but come on people don’t leave your purse, wallet, laptop, IPOD, etc. laying around in your car in plain view. Atleast all us ITP residents don’t have to complain about our hour commute – that’s my fav. thing about being in the city limits.

    – Stacy:

  2. Annie (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

    Agreed. LOL about VA Highlands being thought of as “ghetto.”

    Part of me thinks that it happens in East Atlanta BECAUSE we have built so much business here, especially nightlife. It kind of makes the patrons a bit of a target wandering around at 2 a.m. Seems that we need a little more police presence, and a lot more common sense.

    And yes, the commute is a huge reason to live ITP.

  3. CaptainObvious (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

    I live in probably one of the most perceived crime ridden neighborhoods downtown. I’m talking about the Old Fourth Ward, yes that area along Boulevard near North Ave. The area riddled with meth and crack whores, with homeless people and who can forget the white tee clad BMF (Black Mafia Family) gang.

    Yet with all this I regularly walk down Boulevard from my street to Piedmont Park without issue from anyone. I do this in the afternoon, evening and yes sometimes after midnight when the real fun begins in the O4W. Yet all my close friends who live both OTP and ITP think I’m nuts for living here in what could be Atlanta’s last real ghetto. What they don’t realize is that if you don’t project yourself as a target you won’t be perceived as a target. That and some real situational awareness goes a long way.

  4. Jam (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

    I’ve lived in East ATL for nearly 6 years and there have been 2 other incidents the whole time I’ve lived there.

    My neighborhood is EXTREMELY safe. I’ve left my door unlocked (being absent-minded) on a occasion with no worries. On our street everyone looks out for each other. We always wave as we drive by.

    I agree with Captain Obvious. There is definitely a subversive element in East ATL but carry yourself with awareness and the “don’t mess with me” attitude.

    Also, if you’re out at 2 a.m., wherever you are in the world, you should be a little more cautious.

  5. stuff (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 6:54 pm

    eatl is a magnet for post-bar muggings, kidnappings, and killings. You people live in a dreamworld and apparently don’t want your property values to go down.

    I guess these guys just didn’t have enough of a “don’t mess with me attitude” … eatl is safe as can be.

  6. Geroge Burdell (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

    Between this incident, and the shooting in L5P about a month ago, I’ll have to say that the new frequency of the crimes are rather alarming. The scariest thing about both of these are that many of my intown friends (and myself included) could have been the victim in either of these crimes.

    It used to be that most of the post bar crimes happened up in Buckhead….even though I never hung out there, I’m a little upset that all of the clubs in B-head are closed.

  7. Adam (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 8:03 am

    Wow, I’m shocked that a couple of black men have been arrested for a crime. Who would have thought it possible?

  8. Lori (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 8:38 am

    I posted about some pretty unsettling incidents intown (mostly Midtown). I felt the same way you did about the neighborhood when I heard about these incidents. What was most disturbing is that the criminals felt the need to hurt their victims, not just mug them. At least no one got hurt in the EAV kidnapping.

  9. CaptainObvious (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 9:06 am

    Most of the crime currently happening ITP that I have seen could have been prevented by vigilance. Vigilance not only from the victim but also from the community.

    @stuff, if those two lawyers hadn’t been too damn drunk to pay attention to their own plight they could have possibly prevented their own kidnapping.

    On a sour note my O4W just got a little more dangerous. There was a shooting at the bottom of my street Sunday night it turns out, as well as at the top of my street one block over toward North Ave. Check out the AJC piece on it, it’s not much though.

    Does this make me feel any less safe? Not really.

  10. Lori (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 9:13 am

    Forgot to address your comment about not being able to find neighborhood crime info –
    The APD website has a mapping page that lets you scroll through areas on a google map:

  11. abby (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 10:02 am

    I think I’ll be spending much more time looking at crime maps today than I had budgeted for. Thanks for the link, Lori. You can view up to 2 weeks at a time – and in just 14 days the city becomes completely obscured in a sheet of pink and blue and green crime dots. I don’t envy the policemen working to keep us safe one bit.

    I don’t feel unsafe in our neighborhood. And I’m with the Captain – a big part of this feeling of safety is vigilance. People (in Cabbagetown) go outside, they walk their dogs, they sit on benches in the park (apparently not just for the bums). They know their neighbors. To be honest, this is a new thing for me, after living in a place for 3 years without knowing the names of anyone around us. But a little goes a long way towards creating a community presence, which leads to the community vigilance the Cap’n mentioned.

    That, and a new alarm system.

  12. CaptainObvious (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 10:16 am

    Abby, alarm systems are never a bad thing. I have an alarm too, it’s called 5 police K9s. Believe it or not the homeless, gangbangers, and other nefarious types are more scared of my dogs than they are of me and my pistol. All of my neighbors know me and what I do for a living. If there’s a problem on my street people come to me first to tell me about their issue.

    It’s about caring and wanting to make your neighborhood safe for everyone not just you. If you make life difficult for the “bad people” they will eventually move somewhere where it’s not difficult for them to operate. It sounds overly simplistic but it’s true and it works.

  13. Marco (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    A lot of crimes go unreported in the media in East Atlanta. I was mugged on a lit street in the heart of the village (Glennwood) in the early evening. A day later a group of people were held up at gunpoint one block from the village. I’ve had friends get their car stolen multipule times out of their driveway. This is a neighborhood they’ve deemed up and coming for what, 20 years now. When is it supposed to be done doing that exactly?

  14. Andisheh Nouraee (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 11:03 am

    CaptainObvious typed:

    “Most of the crime currently happening ITP that I have seen could have been prevented by vigilance.”

    Most of the crime that you have have seen? Do you witness a lot of armed robberies and kidnappings.

    Tell me, C.O., if four armed men approach you on street and told you to do as they say, what would you do? Assume you had a gun. Which one would you shoot first?

    Tell me also, if you’re standing at your front door on your way to work in the morning and a man runs into your front yard and sticks a gun in your face, how would you react? Would you jab your house key in his eye?

    CaptainObvious = Obviously full of shit.

  15. CaptainObvious (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    Ahhh, Andisheh I haven’t been called full of shit in a while. I see more crime than you ever want to see my friend. You see I am a Federal Cop. I have seen more carnage during my time in the military at war as well as in my current job than you hopefully will ever have to see. I know first hand what it’s like to be taken by surprise. I was taken by surprise because I was not paying attention to what was happening around me.

    When I walk out my front door I am always watching who is coming and going, if someone is running my way I do not hesitate to draw first or put one of my K9s on alert. You see my dogs roam free inside and outside my home.

    I have had 2 men come up to me on the street before and try to rob me. One was armed with a knife the other a gun. The one with a knife was the one closest to me and the one asking for money. Did he get my wallet? No he got my badge and a pistol in his face. His friend took off running.

    Andisheh are you always this big of a pussy? Anyone can attack someone or disparage someone over the internet. Can you do it to someone’s face? Walk with me down Boulevard one night around 1AM, meet some of my neighbors.

    Andisheh Nouraee = Another hypocritical liberal with no clue about the real world.

    Hooyah Bitch

  16. Andisheh Nouraee (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

    “Anyone can attack someone or disparage someone over the internet. Can you do it to someone’s face? Walk with me down Boulevard one night around 1AM, meet some of my neighbors.”

    Those words might have had more meaning if they weren’t typed by the man who had just asserted that the kidnap victims were “too drunk” to prevent their kidnappings.

    Anyone can act macho and anonymously blame crime victims on a blog.

    Back to the question.

    Two unarmed men walking to their car at night are accosted by an armed group of four men. What should the victims have done? What constitutes “vigilance” in that situation? Should they have been armed?

    As a law enforcement officer, you might be aware that even if the victims had concealed carry permits that Code Section 16-11-127 forbids citizens from carrying guns in places that serve alcohol. At least that’s what the concealed carry permit in my wallet says.

    If you want to meet me for lunch or coffee, I’d have no problem telling you face-to-face how obnoxious and wrong-headed your post attacking the victims was. And if you have tips on how best to react to criminal attacks, I’d love to pick your brain. 404-614-1888.

  17. karsh (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

    Good thing I live in the West End…where it’s safe!

  18. Annie (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    Andi and Capt: Didn’t y’all read that portion about “Kindness begets kindness?” Play nice, boys.

    Thanks to everyone else for the great comments. Especially Lori with the APD site – I had found that one, but you can only view two weeks at a time. I was looking for someone else to have already done the work compiling data comparing different areas over time (say, a year-long period.) Thanks, though!

  19. Jason (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

    It seems this thread is nearly over, but I wanted to chime in to encourage everyone to not let this topic out of your mind before next election cycle. We need radical improvements in the APD obviously. Do what you can to make our local gov’t interested in crime prevention – as opposed to apparent current MO, which is only crime response.

    My best (for the lack of a better word at the moment) and quite appropriate crime story:

    Five years ago, I was pistol-whipped outside of EAV at the end of a botched mugging while attempting to walk four blocks home. Before I was loaded into the ambulance to go and receive my the ten staples in my head, the police officer quizzically asked, “Why didn’t you just drive drunk?” Go figure.

  20. Annie (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

    jason, why are you trying to shut down my thread so quickly? :-)

    Sorry about your incident, but I am glad to hear that maybe the APD has a sense of humor.

  21. John (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

    Annie, it would be nice if the APD did have a sense of humor, and maybe they do, but I think Jason’s point was that they’d rather you drive drunk than walk around certain parts of the city at night because A) they’d have fewer aggravated assault/murder calls to respond to and B) your odds of making it home safely are greater. More sad than funny, no?

    I know Jason and pointed him to this thread. He’s lucky to be alive. He stupidly confronted his armed attackers and ended up with a big gash in his scalp. Terry Williams, who was shot in the head and killed five weeks ago just outside of Little Five Points, was not so lucky.

    It’s obvious to anyone who has lived intown for any length of time that crime is as bad or worse than it has been in any time in recent memory.

    I have a feeling that the statistics, when released, will bear this out. Maybe things will happen then. How many people will be assaulted/robbed/kidnapped/killed in the meantime and how that will affect the perception of the city (for those who live here and those that are thinking about visiting) is yet to be determined.

  22. Annie (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 4:36 pm

    John – I really didn’t think the incident or the comment were funny, but I guess that doesn’t come across in text. i remember when this incident happened to your friend, and I am certainly not making light of it. Interestingly, I have seen more and more people discussing the fact that they opt to drive to the village, even when they are planning to drink, rather than risk a late-night walk home. That is truly scary.

    I agree that things seem more violent of late. It will be interesting to see the stats and their affect on public perception. That was what my post was about in the first place. There is no doubt, though, that even without statistical evidence, people perceive the city as being less safe.

    Thanks for the comment!

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