Unfortunately, 2017 has produced a much different picture. In less than three months, there have been a dozen pedestrian robberies, and nine have been in and around the Village. There appears to be an organized effort to rob pedestrians as they walk to their homes and cars after dark. While this is cause for alarm, there have been several other similar time patterns of robberies in EAV that lasted 2-3 months. Usually a significant police presence discouraged the robberies, and things returned to normal. Maybe normal isn't good enough, and we can do better. Or maybe we'll never solve the problem 100%, much like it isn't solved in most other parts of the city.
In no way is this an acceptance of what's been happening. Last week the EASP asked APD to step up patrols on the periphery of the Village. History has shown that streets like Metropolitan, May, Haas, Portland, Gresham and Stokeswood are the places where you're most likely to be robbed. In recent days, that has even extended to Patterson and Monument, two streets with very little history of this type of crime. Thus far, APD has responded with more manpower. Will that presence dwindle over time? Of course it will. And generally the robberies will not start the minute the police return to more normal levels of patrols.
The East Atlanta Security Patrol continues to actively monitor every crime in our area, and to try to keep our neighborhood safe. For the most part, it is safe. However, there is always an elevated risk when you walk anywhere in our community at night. Keep this in mind as you are out in the evening. Until there is more solid evidence that the robberies have returned to normal levels, there is nothing wrong with asking a friend, family member or Uber to drive you home. Some will say that the terrorists are winning if we change our behavior and have someone drive us two or three blocks, but our loved ones may not feel the same way.
The EASP has advocated for a more mobile police force around the Village, using bikes or motorcycles. It has proven to be a very difficult goal to achieve. In lieu of that, more centralized paid parking with security might be the best option. That doesn't solve the whole issue, but it would free up more police resources to concentrate on the residents walking the neighborhood. Right now, there is so much ground to cover both in and outside the Village that it's not feasible to cover it all. Some argue that paid parking would increase robberies even more as people tried to avoid the parking cost. While that may be true, that would be their choice, Those valuing their safety could at least have the option of more secure parking. That could be combined with a designated location for walkers to get a cab or uber.
Hopefully this current spike of robberies will pass, but what will we do before the next wave comes? Business owners and community leaders need to give this some serious thought, but the residents also need to pressure EACA, Natalyn Archibong. APD and business owners to come together with a real plan. Business owners have really stepped up to add security in the Village, but the problem has been shifted rather than solved. Let's not wait for another murder before we act. The EASP will be working on developing a new approach, and hopefully these other stakeholders will all join us at the table to come up with some more creative solutions to a persistent problem.