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.
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.
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.