Frequently Asked Questions


How do I join or renew my membership?
Residents can sign-up to join Virginia-Highland Security Patrol online or by mailing in a form and check. More information is available here.

What does FBAC stand for? 
FBAC stood for Fight Back Against Crime. This name was chosen in 1990 when the patrol was first established. The current name of the organization if Virginia-Highland Security Patrol. Read more about the history of the organization here

What are Part One Crimes?

Part one crimes are generally felonies and are the serious crimes that are reported to the FBI and used to compare crime levels between different jurisdictions. These include homicide, rape, assault, general larceny, Residential and Commercial burglary, auto theft, vehicular related larceny (theft from auto), and robbery.

An Glossary to explain these terms can be found here.

Request for Service

When should I call 911 and when should I call the patrol?
In an emergency or to report a part one crime, always call 911 first. 

If possible, have a second person call the patrol cell phone while you are on the phone with 911, or place the patrol call after the 911 call. This is important for our officers' safety to ensure they have necessary backup. Members receive an email every month with the cellphone number and schedule. 

For non-emergency calls or to report non-part one crimes (such as parking problems, noise complaints, suspicious person or activity, etc.) you can call the patrol when they are on duty. If not on duty, then these calls should also be made to 911 so that there is a record of the complaint.

How do I submit a vacation house check request?

The easiest way to submit a request for vacation house checks is to send an email to the patrol address or to call the patrol telephone number, both of which are provided each month in the member newsletter/email.
Make sure to provide your name, address, dates you will be away, a number to reach you and/or contact information for someone local who has a key, and any individuals who are authorized to be on your property while you are away, such as handymen or cleaning services.

How do I request more information or file a complaint?

Whether you have a question about the program or something hasn't gone quite right, we want to know about it as soon as possible. Just contact us via our VHSP. Please keep in mind that the program is administered by volunteers who work day jobs and have families. One of the members of the team will get back to you as soon as possible, but please do be patient.


What are the benefits of membership?
As an individual member you receive these benefits for you and your family:
  • Patrol schedule: e-mailed to you monthly
  • Cellphone number: call patrol officers directly while on duty
  • Vacation house checks: officers stop at your home and check the perimeter of your property to ensure all is as it should be in your absence
  • Monthly newsletter: identifies recent crimes in beat 601, safety tips and reminders, and activities of the patrol during the prior month
  • Special Alerts: e-mail notification of any special concerns or lookouts that arise between reports
  • Yard sign: informs potential criminals that you are protected
  • Safe ride home: members can call officer during patrol times if they are away from home and feeling threatened
  • Officers are patrolling most likely crime areas of the neighborhood by car and on foot to spot potential criminal activity before it happens.
Additional information is available here

If I have an alarm system and pay taxes for police coverage, why do I also need to pay for a private security patrol?

An alarm system is a great way to notify police of a problem after it has occurred, but the existence of an alarm is at best a mild deterrent. The majority of an APD beat officer's on-duty time is spend responding to 911 calls. As a result, they do not have the time to do much proactive policing. The primary focus of the patrol is to proactively work to prevent crime.

Officers not only patrol in vehicles but also get out of the vehicle and walk the streets. They engage and get to know residents and business owners, and also know the offenders who prefer to work in Virginia Highland. They question people walking in unlikely places at odd hours to determine their business. In this way individuals with outstanding warrants and who have no proper business in our neighborhood can be stopped before they offend again. The patrol officer is the replacement for the beat cop of earlier times.

Why don't officers patrol in a marked car?
This has been a long held misconception in the neighborhood. While the officers use their own vehicles, (for which they are not reimbursed), several years ago magnetic signs were purchased for them to use to identify their car while on patrol with Virginia-Highland Security Patrol. Those original signs were used so much that they finally wore out and Sgt. Clark just recently purchased new signs (out of his own pocket) for the cars.
One of the reasons the cars are not often spotted in the neighborhood is that shifts are weighted toward the overnight hours when the majority of crime is committed. Most of us are not out and about at 3:00 am to see the cars driving the side streets and alleys. See below for more information on when patrols are on duty.


What hours/days are patrols on duty?
Officers patrol in five hour shifts. At the current time at least one shift is scheduled every day and on some days two shifts are scheduled. The schedule is usually set one month in advance and is based on crime trends that have been seen during the previous month, events that are happening in the area, etc.

By design the shifts are not always at the same time of day. The schedule is weighted more heavily toward the overnight hours when criminals are most active, but there are also daytime shifts when criminals may be casing future burglary targets or attempting break-ins where it is believed residents will be at work.

The goal is to increase membership sufficiently to allow for a minimum of two shifts every day.

How do I know if my address is included in the patrol area?

The patrol area uses the same boundaries as APD beat 601 and the Virginia Highland Neighborhood. View the map here.


How are funds used?
During 2014 expenses totaled $61,570 of which 99.85% went into payroll for officers working on the patrol. This leaves a minuscule amount that was spent on administrative expenses.
This does not take into account the items that are donated by volunteers and members of our patrol. For example patrol officers use their own vehicle during their shift and do not receive gas or mileage reimbursement from Virginia-Highland Security Patrol. The magnetic signs that are used on these personal vehicles during patrols were replaced last year and the cost was donated by one of the patrol officers. Likewise, the cell phone that is used by officers is paid for by one of the officers. 

Why doesn't the Virginia Highland Civic Association (VHCA) support VHSP with funds raised through Summerfest and Tour of Homes?
Such support has been discussed many times over the years beginning when the patrol was first established and as recently as 2012 when a small grant was requested from VHCA. The association has always made the decision to remain separate and not to provide funding to Virginia-Highland Security Patrol. 
Our volunteers do not speak for the actions or decisions of the VHCA board. Any questions about VHCA can be directed to the current Board of Directors. Contact information can be found here.

Will increased membership lower the cost?

Until the patrol reaches a point of being able to pay for a minimum of two shifts on every day of the month, rates will not be lowered. When and if that point is reached, consideration will be given for how incremental funds are used. One possibility would be to begin reimbursing officers for the use of their own vehicles, or to purchase and maintain a dedicated vehicle.

How are officers held accountable?

First of all, the individuals who work for the patrol are all current employees of the Atlanta Police Department. Should one of them ever be involved in an incident that caused them to be dismissed from APD, they would also be dismissed from our patrol. Additionally, we only hire experienced officers with many years on the job.

The activities of the patrol are supervised by an APD Sergeant, Chris Clark, who has 30+ years experience with APD. In addition he is a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. Each officer on the patrol reports his activities to Sgt. Clark including hours worked and activities during each shift.

In addition to Sgt. Clark's supervision, the activities of the entire patrol receive oversight from our volunteer board of directors who manage the program.