October 18, 2016

VaHi Safety Team Report Weeks 36 – 39 (8/28/16 – 9/24/16)

Note: this is an extra-long report with four weeks of statistics and much more. Please bear with me and read to the end.

News and Notes

Upcoming Road Race(s) and Other Events in the Neighborhood

The American Lung Association will hold their LUNG FORCE 5K Run/Walk on November 5th. The race begins at 9:00 am at John Howell Park and winds through the west side of Virginia-Highland and Morningside ending back at John Howell Park. Please make your plans accordingly.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Meeting: Monday November 14th, 7:00 pm at Ponce Library

Neighborhood Planning Unit F Meeting: Monday November 21st, 7:00 pm at Hillside

VHBA Hosts Kid’s Candy Crawl on October 26th

The Virginia-Highland Business Association has announced they’ll hold the first annual Kid’s Candy Crawl this year.

Meet at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, October 26th at Fire Station #19 (corner of N. Highland and Los Angeles). Stroll south on N. Highland looking for orange balloons. When you see one, stop and get a free treat from one of our local businesses. The Crawl continues from the Fire Station to St. Charles Ave, then turn right on St. Charles and into the alleyway to Knock Music House.

After filling your bags with goodies, head to Atkins Park for dinner. All kids in a costume will receive a free kid’s menu meal.

Volunteers are needed to make all crosswalks safe for the Crawl. Contact Stephen Cohen at scohen49@gmail.com if you are available.

Halloween and Trick or Treat Safety Tips for Parents, Children & Students

October 31st is a fun-filled night for all ages, but the night can also have dangers. While the Halloween safety tips for high school and college age students are somewhat different from those for young children, everyone should take a few minutes to think about how to stay safe.

·         Never allow or invite strangers into your house, dorm or apartment.
·         Avoid areas that are not well lit, and try to walk in high-traffic areas.
·         Travel in groups as much as possible. If you must travel alone, let a trusted friend or family member know where you are and who you are with.
·         Keep your cell phone handy in case you get separated from your group or need to contact emergency services.
·         Make use of safe forms of transportations such as Uber, Lift, or taxi cabs.
·         If you are going to a party venue, familiarize yourself with the fire exits when you arrive so that you are prepared if an emergency evacuation occurs.
·         Be cautious when approaching strangers while in your costume so that you do not draw any unnecessary or negative attention.
·         While you and your friends may have coordinated costumes, strangers may not be as knowledgeable about your costume and its accompanying props. Don’t carry fake weapons. You especially also want to avoid alarming the police.
·         Don’t eat any opened or unwrapped food or candy.
·         Watch for children in the street and on medians when driving.
·         Prepare your home for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns and sidewalks.
·         Keep lit pumpkins away from where children will be walking.
·         Establish a curfew for your children.
·         When leaving the house make sure you lock your doors and set your security alarm.
·         Go only to well-lit houses, remain on porches rather than entering houses and stay in familiar neighborhoods.
·         Travel in groups and be accompanied by an adult.
·         Carry a cell phone for emergencies, and make sure your trick or treaters know how to call 911.
·         Walk, don’t run, and obey all traffic signals, and cross only at corners.
·         Make sure costumes don’t drag on the ground and make sure costumes or masks do not obstruct vision.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Atlanta Police Department to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department is sponsoring a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day provides a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs.  This is the ninth year of this very successful project to assist our residents to clear out their medicine cabinets, empty their bedside tables and kitchen drawers of prescription drugs.

The Atlanta Police Department is encouraging citizens to participate by donating unused or expired medication at any of the police precincts listed below. Investigators from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Division will be on hand to collect the prescription drugs at the locations.

Zone 1 Precinct
2315 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway
Zone 2 Precinct
3120 Maple Drive N.E.
Zone 3 Precinct
880 Cherokee Avenue
Zone 4 Precinct
1125 Cascade Cr. S.W.
Zone 5 Precinct
398 Centennial Olympic Park Drive
Zone 6 Precinct
2025 Hosea L. Williams Dr.

Zone 6 Toy Drive Off to Good Start

John Wolfinger reports finding his first bag of toys on the porch on 10/12! Keep them coming please. Drop new unwrapped toys at 1054 Vance Avenue.

Safety When Shopping and Driving

This past week we read on Nextdoor about a local resident who felt she was being followed around the grocery store by a man she did not know. As she was driving home, she realized he was following her. She drove home and he pulled up and blocked her driveway. Fortunately, this resident knew that a family member was inside with her dogs, so she called and that person came out with the dogs. The man immediately drove away. 

This incident led to a good discussion of safety tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. The two most important are 1) trust your instincts and 2) drive to a populated area – preferably a police or fire station where you can get help. Here are links to more safety tips for walking, driving and shopping:

Back Door Security for Bar/Restaurants

Once again an establishment was the victim of a robbery after hours. Barcelona Wine Bar was hit at 3:00 am Sunday morning. Two males in hoodies and with handguns entered via the back door which had been left open by a dishwasher who was taking out the trash. No one was injured, but the thieves made off with a substantial amount of cash.

This type of theft is becoming fairly common, so please advise all employees to use extra caution late at night. Do not leave doors propped open, or unlocked, and make sure video camera equipment is in good working order at all times. If a manager is on site during clean-up, it might be a good idea for one person to take out trash while another watches from the doorway to deter thieves.

Upcoming Election

Though there are many offices to be filled and a few amendments to consider on November 8th, only a couple stand out as critical to public safety.

First and foremost is the election of our Fulton County Sheriff whose department runs the jail, protects the courthouse, serves warrants and other civil paper, etc. As stated in past reports, Sheriff Jackson has done a good job, correcting many problems from previous administrations. While every resident must research the candidates and reach their own conclusion, I believe it is in the public interest to see Sheriff Theodore Jackson returned to office for another term.

The second issue relates to Amendment #3 which reads as follows:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?”

Since 1972 the state of Georgia has had an independent Judicial Qualifications Commission. The actions of this commission have led to the resignation or removal of more than six dozen judges statewide. The details of a few of those cases can be found in this AJC article.

One of the chief sponsors of the amendment is Johnnie Caldwell, a former judge who resigned as a result of the investigation into his inappropriate sexual comments to female lawyers. After he resigned in 2010, he ran for the state legislature in 2012, and in 2016 we see him seeking to abolish the very commission that cost him his judgeship.

The current commission operates independently of the legislature with two members appointed by the State Supreme Court, three appointed by the State Bar Association, and two appointed by the Governor. The proposal is to eliminate this commission and replace it with one that is essentially under the control of politicians. In the new scheme the State Supreme Court would still appoint two members, the Governor would only appoint one, and the majority (two and two) would be appointed by the Speaker and the Lt. Governor.

Again, we much each educate ourselves before voting on such matters. More information can be found at these links:

I leave you to draw your own conclusions. However, as an avid CourtWatcher, I will be voting no on Amendment #3.

Crime Statistics

The following information is taken from our APD Zone 6 report (http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx).
It includes information from the Virginia-Highland Beat 601 reported incidents along with relevant reports from other nearby beats. Keep in mind that not all incidents are reported. A map showing the location of beats 601 – 612 within Zone 6 can be found at this link 

This information is not shared to scare anyone, but to let you know what happens around us every day so you can be alert and aware.

Homicide None in Beat 601 and none in Zone 6.

Rape None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Pedestrian/Carjacking Robbery One in Beat 601 and sixteen in Zone 6.

On September 16th a man attempted to force open the door of an occupied vehicle at the Kroger on Ponce de Leon. He was unsuccessful and got back into a White Toyota Sienna. As police approached the vehicle, he drove off, refusing to stop and nearly hitting a pedestrian. He struck another vehicle and officers exited their vehicle to detain him. 

At that time the suspect reversed his vehicle hitting the patrol car and then accelerated forward nearly running over an officer. The vehicle then crashed into a tree and the suspect exited the vehicle. When order to the ground by officers, he attempted to return to the vehicle, and was tazed. 

After a struggle the man was arrested. It was learned that the vehicle he was driving had been stolen in Dekalb County earlier in the day as the result of an armed carjacking. Byron Ray Hunter was charged with multiple offenses including aggravated assault, theft by receiving stolen property, driving on a suspended or revoked license, hit and run with failure to render aid, and multiple traffic citations.

Residential Robbery None in Beat 601 and one in Zone 6.

Commercial Robbery None in Beat 601 and seven in Zone 6.

Aggravated Assault Two in Beat 601 and sixteen in Zone 6.

On September 1st near a bar on Ponce de Leon, a man pointed a gun at the victim and forced her to remove her clothing. The suspect was subsequently identified and arrested. The victim was not physically hurt during the incident. Kyishon Alexander, age 26 was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

On September 7th at Urban Outfitters the manager was assaulted when she confronted a woman shoplifter. The suspect scratched her, left the store and then returned and used pepper spray on the manager. Police have the vehicle tag number. The manager was not seriously injured.

Nearby on Parkway Drive in Old Fourth Ward on August 30th four individuals were shot including a nine-year-old girl, a fourteen-year-old boy, a fifteen-year-old boy, and a twenty-year-old woman. Victims were in the park at the time of the shooting and made their own way to Atlanta Medical Center. They were unable to provide information about the shooter(s). This case is being handled by the Gun Reduction Task Force.

Residential Burglary One in Beat 601 and thirty-eight in Zone 6.

Commercial Burglary None in Beat 601 and six in Zone 6.

Larceny From Vehicle Sixteen in Beat 601 and one hundred and seventy-one in Zone 6.

Vehicles where entered on Adair Ave., Barnett St., Maiden Lane, Monroe Drive, N. Highland Ave., Park Drive, Ponce de Leon Ave, Ponce de Leon Place, and Virginia Ave. Entry was made via broken windows, and unlocked doors. Taken were multiple purses and wallets, laptops and book bags/backpacks, cash, lawn equipment, and DeKalb Co. police issued gear including a handgun.

Note that on September 21st in a parking lot on Ponce de Leon Place 44 vehicles were damaged. For the purposes of APD reporting this is treated as one incident.

A license plate was also stolen from a vehicle on Cresthill, and another was taken from a vehicle on Ponce de Leon Place. Please remember to check the rear of your vehicle from time to time to make sure the plate is still in place.

Other Larcenies Two in Beat 601 and eighty-two in Zone 6.

On September 10th, a man at the CVS was seen using a first aid spray on open wounds on his body. Timmy James Lehr, aged thirty-two was subsequently arrested and charged with shoplifting.

On September 22nd a set of Bose Headphones were stolen from a mailbox. There is video footage of the suspect removing the package.

Auto Theft Three in Beat 601 and forty-nine in Zone 6.

On September 1st a 2000 silver Pontiac was stolen from the parking lot of The Local on Ponce de Leon Ave.

On September 6th a tan 2005 Chevy Tahoe was stolen from a parking lot on Frederica.

On September 21st a gold 2000 Jeep Cherokee was stolen from Barnett Street.

If this report was forwarded to you and you would like to be added to the distribution, please send a message to me at VaHiSafety@gmail.com with your name, email address, and affiliation. Thanks.

Stay Safe!

Kay Stephenson

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