Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My long term goal for the City of Dunwoody is to be named a Money Magazine Best Place to Live - education and crime rates holding us slightly back.



My long term goal for the new City of Dunwoody has been to distinguish ourselves from surrounding municipalities by offering better services, better amenities and over all better quality of living than everywhere else in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.  I decided many years ago that the only way to qualify for that distinction was for City of Dunwoody to be recognized by Money Magazine as one of the 100 Best Places to Live.

This ranking is judged on seven criteria including Financial Data, Housing, Education, Quality of Life, Leisure & Culture, Weather and Meet the Neighbors. In looking at the numbers of the other top ranked places, Dunwoody is running a deficit in only two places, Schools & Crime.

Schools

Dunwoody is educationally served by the DeKalb County School System and as far as I could tell there are no separate rankings for just the City of Dunwoody, but we are blessed with relatively small neighborhood schools all of whom do well when compared against the state rankings. We have a number of charter schools with heavy parental involvement which feed into a single High School system.  These factors are good bellwethers as to the public educational system within the Dunwoody city limits and as a public school parent, I am happy with the education my children receive. As a sitting member of the Dunwoody City Council, I have little direct impact on improving the scores that this item is measured upon therefore we need to keep working with our own children and within the governance of the DeKalb School System to make improvements.

Crime

In 2006, Dunwoody was listed in the Georgia rankings of Money Magazine as having both a very high “personal crime risk” as well as a high “property crime risk” and I personally made inquiries to the DeKalb County Police Department who was servicing our area in regards to the proper crime stats vs what was published. The high crime statistics were based on DeKalb County as a whole and therefore had no direct relationship to the Dunwoody area. The Crier wrote a nice article and the DHA followed up as well when the stats in Money Magazine were amended.  This one example of crime rates and crime statistics was just one of my many reasons that I personally wanted to break away from DeKalb County.  I believed that if we were able to start our own police department we would be able to actively attack any crime issues that we had within the City, head on.

Looking at the 2011 Money Magazine data on Dunwoody, I noted that our crime rates were still being based on DeKalb County data thereby making us look worse than it should be and that the crime statistics were being measured a little differently than the data the Dunwoody PD was providing. I sent an email to Chief Grogan asking for an explanation of the data as well as the 2010 Dunwoody statistics to compare against the statistics quoted in Money Magazine.   I have taken the liberty of attaching his response here for your reading pleasure.

Based on the statistics provided by Chief Grogan, Dunwoody’s personal crime rate (crimes against people) in 2010 was at 2.25 crimes per 1,000 people whereby many of the Top Rates Places, as well as a few of our neighbors, were rated at, or below 1 per 1,000. Dunwoody’s property crime rate (crimes against property) was at 36.53 per 1,000 whereby the Best Places average was around 16 per 1,000.

Aside from silly comparisons of idyllic locations far away from the bustle of a major metropolitan area, the crimes against people rating is way too high for my liking and I truly believe it is the Council’s duty to work in partnership with the Police Department in lowering this number.  Citizens personal safety comes before all else in the budgeting process and I intend to offer an amendment to the proposed 2012 Budget by reverting to the original document that was offered at the work session thereby replacing the Crime Reduction Unit back into the 2012 budget as originally proposed. 

Feel free to weigh in on this subject where you see fit, be it in the comments section of the blog (the previous post on the budget and the removal of the crime reduction unit has over 30 comments), an email to the entire council or in person at the budget public hearing scheduled this Monday night before the vote.

Thanks and as always, it my pleasure to serve.


6 comments:

Rob said...

John,

Looks like Money has a number of incorrect statistics related to Dunwoody. You can click on our city name and do a comparison to the top ten named cities. When you do, you'll see, for example, that the magazine has ZERO for the number of museums within 30 miles. Clearly an incorrect number. I'm sure there are other inaccuracies in this "survey and analysis" but that one stood out on this rainy morning. Good luck on your efforts to have us ranked ... Rob Augustine

PS - I note they did not have a ranking for Blogs or Blog Content. Surely with the erudite posters here we'd rank very high on that scale! I mean that Colleen O'Casey quoting Kant and referring to Chip as a "Goethe allusion." You just can't compare other cities to that.

Greg said...

John:

I continue to disagree respectfully with your support for the DDACT team as proposed by Chief Grogan.

As I read more about DDACT response teams, they appear at face-value to be of little value to Dunwoody except for increasing traffic stops and citations (Part 2 crimes) and not really deterring Part 1 Crimes as you suggest.

I know at the recent Council meeting, you tried to "spin" this unit as being available to help with school safety, but I find no credible evidence that a DDACT team has been used effectively to control traffic around schools except where speed is involved.

As Bob Fiscella mentioned on one of his blogs, he took 45 minutes to make the round-trip of 1.8 miles from his home off Womack to DES and back. Clearly, we do not have a "speed" problem, but a "traffic control" problem in this instance.

Chief Grogan has responded that he is unwilling to support his officers being placed as traffic control officers, and I would have to suggest I presume that would also apply to DDACT officers.

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but if you go to the CrimeWatch statistics for Dunwoody for the past month, the Part 1 crimes are more heavily weighted to the Perimeter Area. The so-called "blighted" apartments on P'tree Industrial do not appear to be a significant locus of Part 1 crime.

I am at a loss to explain the apparent disparity between those who say "the apartments along P'tree Industrial are creating a disproportionate drain on our police force, unless the CrimeStat data is being properly and frequently updated.

I also point out that DDACT teams are vehicle-based patrols, and if you really wanted to impact crime in high-density residential area you're probably better off with foot-based patrols (personal impression, not based on data).

If Chief Grogran wants to add foot-officers and school traffic control to the justification for additional officers, that's a different story.

DDACT vehicle patrol is, in my opinion, an unnecessary tool at this point when we have more significant demands for expanding our police force.

Wise Acre said...

I'd be careful about painting all of Dunwoody with the same bluestocking hue.

I've been reviewing this blog for some time now and have suspected that a few of the identities - (Colleen O'Casey, Sarah Rogue, Nellie Woodson, Bob Turner, Wishbone Nolan, Glory Jackson, Aleister Crowley, Robespierre, Repeal Georgia HB87, etc) are from the same eloquent but derelict mind. I've seen posts on this and other blogs where he has had dialogues with three or four of his own identities. Sad, ain't it?

If you read his own comments, his letters to the editor, his blog on James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace you'd see the same battological phrasing in all these other identities' droll diatribes.

No, I think it is safe to say that Dunwoody is infected with only one idiosyncratic pseudo-intellectual idiot.

Jack B. Nimble said...

We moved from a lovely home in Stone Mountain to Dunwoody in 1978.

Crime started to increase at a rapid rate about 4 years after we moved to Stone Mountain, and the quality of education at my children's schools declined just as rapidly.

Once settled in Austin Elementary and Dunwoody High School, I was astounded by the difference in education between two schools in the same county. I felt as though I took my kids from government schools to private schools. I was very active in PTA. In Stone Mountain, it was like pulling teeth to get parents involved. In Dunwoody, parents were very involved.

Safety trumps all else, in my opinion. We had a very nice community when we moved to Stone Mountain until criminals got a foothold. Now, I'd be afraid to walk down some streets in broad daylight.

The personal experience in Stone Mountain leads me to believe that we need as much police presence as possible. In my opinion, making criminals uncomfortable coming into an area is the best defense.

I'd much rather see my tax dollars go for safety services rather than parks.

"Pay for what you need (police) and save for what you want (parks)."

John Heneghan said...

Relevant post on Dunwoody schools written by Ms. Donna Nall (Candidate Terry Nall's wife) who spent a considerable amount of time last year working on updating the Charter for Peachtree Charter Middle School.

http://knitternall.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-about-schools.html

.

Bob Turner said...

No one asked what I want, but what I want is parks, but only if we are free to grow our green tea there, and of course, no more cops!

But you all can do what you want, because I, like the seasoned prostitute, know how to apply a condom on the trick so deftly that he doesn't even know it's on.

So in the act, feel free to kiss me knowing I shall be not only insensible but infecund as well. It's all good, baby, all good!