Monday, October 17, 2011

Updated 2012 Dunwoody Budget, now with removed crime reduction unit.


As a member of the Dunwoody Budget Committee along with Councilman Wittenstein and Councilman Shortal we were asked to review Mayor Wright's initial budget and if the three of us agreed to modifications then the Mayor's proposed budget would be amended prior to public release.  There was a proposal by Chief Grogan to add a dedicated crime reduction team of three officers and a sergeant which would work rotating shifts both night and days, as a team, whereby these four officers would be targeting known high crime areas in Dunwoody as well as doing special investigations as needed.  The other two members of the Budget Committee wanted this item removed but I was the lone dissenting vote therefore assuring that this was to be discussed in front of full council.

This matter was discussed at the work session earlier this month but was pulled from the version proposed to be ratified next Monday because four of the seven council members believed that we didn't need the additional officers, had other budgetary priorities or other personal reasons for not moving forward.  Other than this one change there was no other substantive budget modifications therefore it was the only difference between what was discussed at the work session and the proposal for October 24th approval which is now available on the City website.

I see this as an important issue moving forward as Council members budgetary philosophy and city service priorities should not be based on what a rap video states or what the boys at the Country Club believe but instead should be setting policy based on the hard statistics and the expertise of the professionals we have hired to do the job.  The annual cost of $270,000 in a 22 Million dollar budget is a budget priority that I was willing to make to allow a specific team of officers to actively make our community a safer place to live. 

If I can not personally sway council's determination to move forward with this important measure maybe next year this item will resurface again, as all three candidates for Mayor agreed in principal that this was needed.

Below was the Budgetary item that was Removed

Enhance community safety: Government’s primary objective is the protection of its citizens and visitors. Since the Department’s inception in April 2009, Dunwoody’s police officers have worked diligently to protect our citizens and visitors. Based on call volume, our police officers spend the majority of their time responding to calls for service while our detectives complete follow-up investigations on reported crime.

In order to aid in these pursuits, the FY 2012 Budget includes the addition of a Crime Response Team comprised of one sergeant and three patrol officers. The Crime Response Team will utilize both traditional and non-traditional patrol techniques to deter criminal activity, reduce accidents and injuries from accidents, and improve the quality of life for our community. In particular, the Crime Response Team will implement the Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) program which integrates location-based crime and traffic data to establish effective and efficient methods for deploying the team. The Crime Response Team will be a key asset in addressing traffic and safety concerns around our schools; targeting hot spots and locations with high incidents of crime; conducting DUI enforcement and highway interdiction; and handling special investigations as needed. For example, one common complaint our Police Department receives regards traffic safety. Currently, complaints are funneled to the shift and assigned to officers who are
working in the particular area of the complaint. In most cases, our officers are not able to address traffic complaints in a timely manner or as adequately as is necessary because their primary responsibility is to answer calls for service and a secondary responsibility is to improve visibility through active directed patrol.

Our new dedicated Crime Response Team will be a great asset to the community by focusing on proactive policing strategies to reduce accidents and reduce crime; thus making our City a safer place. This budget dedicates $269,481 to operations and another $241,067 in first-year capital costs for the Crime Response Team.

Unfortunately this the Public Safety Reality that will remain Unchanged.

Public Safety: Dunwoody is a safe place to live and work. This is essential to the City’s long-term economic growth. Dunwoody Police aggressively worked to prevent and to minimize crime by increasing visibility in neighborhoods, addressing crime “hot spots,” and continuing multiple community involvement programs. During its first year, from April 1, 2009 - March 31, 2010, Dunwoody reported nearly 2,000 Part I Crimes; which include rape, burglary, assault, larceny, and vehicle theft. FY 2011 saw that same statistic drop to just below 1,800 while Dunwoody Police still responded to nearly 34,000 calls for service. With a force of just 46 sworn officers, it is growing increasingly difficult to maintain adequate visibility and reduce crime. The large daytime population surrounding Perimeter Mall combined with and an aging inventory of apartments poses a significant challenge to a small police department. 

Planned investments in a Crime Response Team will assist our Police Department in its goal to effectively prevent crime, not just respond to calls. As reflected in the chart below, our statistics for Part 1 Crime virtually mirrors that of both Smyrna and Alpharetta. However, both those cities have more than double the number of sworn officers. Our 0.99 sworn officers per one thousand citizens are dwarfed by Acworth, Alpharetta, Decatur, Kennesaw, Peachtree City, and Smyrna who range from 1.70 in Smyrna to 2.51 in Dalton. The average for seven comparable Georgia cities is 2.02



32 comments:

Jack B. Nimble said...

I agree with you, John. Shouldn't this be an item included on the ballot for November to let the people decide whether we want our community to be a safer place?

dundevil said...

One would normally think that safety is paramount. but this is PD (park deficient) Dunwoody . Parks are the prime item here. How about taking money for police from the parks budget?

Jack B. Nimble said...

I thought the same thing Dundevil. I'm not in favor of the parks referendum and will not vote for it.

I believe that the Crime Reduction Unit should be a stand-alone item on the ballot.

Where are the priorities? I see many items in the budget that are "wish list" items. Crime and Safety are "must list" items. I'd be willing to pay extra to keep our community crime free.

Sure has me scratching my head and I no longer have children to worry about. The parks will be useless if they aren't secure. That's a no brainer.

I like seeing children in my neighborhood playing and riding bikes like my kids did and like I did when I was a kid. Kids don't always need a park to play in. Stick ball in a cul-de-sac or at the school playground, Hide and Seek, Red Rover Red Rover Come Over...those are the memories I have--not parks with structured play.

Brent M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent M said...

I am a big fan of the Dunwoody Police Department, and I can not figure out why the report does not include comparisons to cities as close as Sandy Springs, Chamblee, or Roswell?

jag9244 said...

So, we have complaints about traffic, road conditions, and response time from police officers.

The solution, obviously, was a pre-crime and checkpoint unit...

DunwoodyTalk said...

Sandy Springs has 127 officers with 93,853 residents, approximately 2 officers per 1000 residents.

Jack B. Nimble said...

@jag, no, I saw 3 police cars go by on Roberts Drive at rapid speed just today and what looked like an unmarked car with the police lights. That's what percentage of our police department? Our priority should NOT be about parks, it should be about safety and a quality and adequate police force.

If we are to expect crime prevention, we as taxpayers, need to give the police whatever they need to get their jobs done, safely.

Gwen said...

Brent,
Sandy Springs and Roswell have twice the population as Dunwoody (from the websties that I found). Therefore, not an accurate comparison.
I agree that having more police is more important than paying for parks. Whats the use in having all these parks if our neighborhoods are not as protected as they could be?

Jack B. Nimble said...

@Gwen,

That's the conclusion I came to as to why they were not considered in the comparison.

I'd like to see us at the top of the safest place to live list of all cities in GA.

"Smart People in a Smart City" should all want the same and have it as their number one priority.

John, I hope the powers to be read your blog and understand that the people put safety ahead of parks.

Colleen O'Casey said...

Seems more like folks are putting tea party paranoia ahead of parks. Yep, I reckon so.

Gotta be goofy or a big sissy if you think Dunwoody is some real dangerous place to live. Whooo scary Dunwoody! Come on, some clean-cut rappers just made a video about what a hermetic humdrum hamlet Dunwoody is!

The existing police are quality officers and doing a right fine job!

We don't need more boots on the street making the town into a police state. We just need the current cops to be apportioned a little more wisely in the future (like not entrapping confusing motorists when there is a construction project on the highway ramps).

Jack B. Nimble said...

@Colleen,

I disagree. The best way to prevent crime is to make it uncomfortable for criminals to come into an area. That's done with police presence. No one has stated that Dunwoody is a scary place, but it's unwise to put our heads in the sand and not invest in future safety. I haven't a clue as to why you inject "the tea party" into the conversation or feel the need to call people "goofy or big sissies" because they don't agree with you. On this blog, at least, you seem to be in the minority or haven't you noticed?

We are not known as the safest city in GA, and that's a shame because we are new and we CAN make that possible. Perhaps your goal is to be the city with the most parks.

It's your right to prefer parks over police coverage, but unnecessary, in my opinion, for you to belittle the police we have. They do a fine job. Sounds like you have a personal ax to grind. Entrapment?

Before the presence of the Dunwoody police, I was one of the drivers who forgot that the speed limit on Roberts Drive or Dunwoody Club is 35 mph. I've been here since 1978. I remember a man losing his leg near the nature center many years ago. Still, everyone's speed crept up over the years. I could be driving 50-60 and never give it a thought because DeKalb County police never showed their presence. Now, I'm aware of the speed limit and I adhere to it--sometimes have to put my foot on the brake as I break my old habits (shame on me). If I forget and a police car is hiding, waiting to catch me, I deserve it--I won't scream entrapment.

TwoDogsTrucking said...

The joke at the council meeting reference D'woody becoming Georgia's bank robbery capital fell flat probably because that perception is becoming reality.
Prior to incorporation the Dunwoody area was served by multiple layers of crime prevention teams. At least two from the county's north precinct and others like a narcotics unit, a gang unit, police motorcycles in the school zones and others.
Even after the creation of D'woody the county provided more police services on a contract that was about a million less than what is now budgeted for D'woody police. Residents were told they would have a lean and mean force and there would be a paradigm shift in public safety.
That murder and burglary clearance rate really stick out. Since we hear so much about performance metrics, what are the acceptable clearance rates for crime in D'woody?

Colleen O'Casey said...

You know, my Momma told me after the ERA passed that no man would ever be able to verbally patronize me or ogle my sisters and me, but we have the men on this blog and "The Tilted Kilt" pubs, respectively, and I realize it was never ratified before its 1982 deadline.

Regarding the police, this was my statement:

"The existing police are quality officers and doing a right fine job!"

I believe that one belittles our police force by indicating that aren't doing a good job by stating we need more police officers.

Where I had a problem was what appeared to the local TV news outlets an actual case of entrapment when they hid a couple of police cars down the ramp from misleading construction signs.

These ticketed drivers were earnestly just confused, not trying to pull something. Hell, the cops can hide squad cars all they want for speeders.

As far as being a minority among a confederacy of fools, Sophie Scholl, God Bless her, there is my courageous finest of the few!

I have never been swayed by the beliefs of the majority, and always thought as Eugene Ionesco did, "I've always been suspicious of collective truths."

And when I schooled my children on the philosophers, I had them pay specific attention to Immanuel Kant,

"Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them."

But all that said, I see your point, and I thank you for taking me to task for being curt and churlish, I do apologize for that, but never for my opinion, no matter how strident or how much in the minority it might be.

Colleen O'Casey said...

This though is the Kant quote that I most cherish, and with as good of adults as my children turned out to be, I believe they do as well,

"Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end."

Immanuel Kant

Bob Turner said...

Sorry for putting this comment here but I couldn't find the post that addresses this. I am just hoping that this doesn't mean that ALL of ZIP code "30338" will default to Sandy Springs at the USPS -

From the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"After months of complaining, Sandy Springs residents may finally get some recognition from the U.S. Postal Service, Channel 2 Action News reports.

If residents agree to the change, postal officials say they’ll
designate at least seven ZIP codes as belonging to the North Fulton
city, not the city of Atlanta as has long been the case.

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said that if a majority of Sandy Springs homeowners and
businesses say in a survey that they favor the change, the Postal
Service has agreed to change the default city to Sandy Springs for ZIP codes 30319, 30327, 30328, 30338, 30339, 30342 and 30350."

And oh, Miss Colleen, not being patronizing here, but as Robespierre told you, you do write like an angel, "girl"!

Jack B. Nimble said...

@Colleen,

As is obvious, I don’t have your flair for the written word but I'm compelled to respond.

I don’t understand your first statement about “The Tilted Kilt” pubs. I’ll assume it’s an inside joke for other posters to enjoy.

I apologize to you for misunderstanding your statement regarding the police. It sounded sarcastic (to me) when reading your next statement regarding entrapment. I am not belittling our police force by asking for more police; I just believe it will make Dunwoody a safer place for them and us in the future.

As far as the entrapment charges, I hadn’t heard, but would be interested to know whether entrapment was proven. I was away for a long time last year so I’ll Google to see if I can find the information.

Being in the minority doesn’t make you wrong or right. I’ll eat crow here, as well, if I gave you that impression. I’ve found myself amongst the minority many times and stood my ground, but never felt the need to call the majority "fools".

I’d be the last to ask you to apologize for your opinion because each of us is entitled to our opinion on every issue. That’s what makes this country great. That’s why we have this forum (thank you, John) and many others so that we might voice our opinions in civil discussion. I still fail to see the Tea Party connection, but it’s obvious that I’m not nearly as well schooled as you are.

BTW, Colleen--not all men on this blog. Mr. Nimble is my dog and everyone knows him! I think we all just want the best for our community, and that’s a good thing.

New technology is amazing. For the oddest of reasons, when my cursor passes over your "name" it tells me that you’re a well known resident of the male persuasion. I have no idea how it does it or why it does it, it just does!

Peace! :-)

Bob Turner said...

Hey, while I am at it, I need some gardening advice here. Does anyone know of a type of fragrant flowering that I can plant that will mask the scent of my herbal growth?

Whadda think? A lilac bush? Wisteria? A mature magnolia tree? Roses, gardenias, jasmine, or honeysuckle?

Thanks in advance.

GaryRayBetz said...

Bob, old buddy, I do believe that someone is taking Jim Morrison's lyric, "Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer!" a little too literally.

Come on guy! Sober up before you comment!

Jack B. Nimble said...

I have a gardenia near my driveway and it's wonderfully aromatic.

I didn't realize I could grow Lilac in the south. One of my favorites. I also love Lily of the Valley--don't see them, here. :-(

Rich Ideas said...

Thank you John, as a retired NYCPD officer it is interesting to view the sentiments of the residents within a small town toward "their" police force. I can't imagine what the rest of the council is thinking. Do they suspect that our Police Chief is casually just asking for "more" without regard for necessity and budget concerns.
Two thoughts: Can't we have two separate issues here, (police and parks)
And, while I do understand the mentality that has swept the country in regard to excessive goverment spending, I ask our residents to open their eyes and wallets when necessary.
Richard

dundevil said...

@Two Dogs
Easy way to reduce bank robberies in Dunwoody

Willie Sutton (no familial relation to DeKalb County Commissioner Sutton, although...) was a well known habitual bank robber in the long distant past of the 1950s 60s. When asked why he robbed banks, he replied: "Because that is where the money is".

So why not have the super affluent Dunwoodyites deposit their abundant wealth in South DeKalb banks. Then take out Dunwoody branding ads telling potential criminals that the big money is no longer in Dunwoody. No money in the banks, no robberies.

Mr. Heneghan's problem is solved at no cost and Dunwoody is helping South DeKalb recover from its economic malaise.

Lindsay said...

When this question was asked at last week's candidate debate 2 of the 3 mayoral candidates answered the question as if it was merely a request for additional headcount. It seems like that point is missed by many. People need to learn more about Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) before they try to discuss the chief's request.

Chip said...

Not to oversimplify the problem, but DDACTS is really effective in spot high-crime areas for two distinct reasons: 1) increased police visibility, 2) increased police interceptions of traffic in suspect areas.

Boiled down, this suggests that if the criminal element seems more police cars they'll avoid the area, and if you stop people transiting the area more frequently, you might catch some bad guys and make the other bad guys go a different route.

Chief Grogan didn't, to the best of my knowledge, specifically identify where and how DDACTS would benefit Dunwoody.

Again, apologizing if I seem to be naive, but if the majority of crimes in the PCID are shoplifting and vehicle break-in's, the DDACT approach really can't solve this problem, unless one believes that there is only one (1) gang of shoplifters, rather than a collection of individuals who,for the most part, strike with the opportunity. In-store security and patrolling the parking lots of Perimeter Mall ought to be the responsibility of mall security, not the residents of Dunwoody.

Unless there is data to show that certain apartment complexes or neighborhoods are known to be drug hangouts and/or reason to believe that large-scale drug trafficing operations exist in Dunwoody (which data has never been shared publicly) the only DDACTS intervention technique for these officers probably distills down to setting up DUI checkpoints.

If you subscribe to DeKalb County Mugs, the vast majority of Dunwoody residents that appear on those pages are being charged with DUI, Disorderly Conduct, or some other traffic violation.

Rarely is anyone nabbed for possession or distribution of narcotics.

So the case for DDACTS really boils down to traffic stops based on minor issues like broken taillights, coming from areas suspected of criminal activities, speed traps, etc. with the hope that increasing the frequency of stopping folks will, in turn, lead to bigger offenses and thus larger fines and/or convictions.

If the Chief wanted 4 more officers to run school traffic patrol, his request might have gotten a better reception.

All the sturm and drang about public safety is misguided in this instance, I believe, as the warrant for this type of policing just isn't here.

Of course, if Chief Grogan disagrees or can substantiate the case, he has my attention. He did not do so at the working session of the Council, and I agree with Council declining to pursue this matter based on the information in-hand at the time of the decision.

Glory_Jackson said...

In a June 6, 1985 speech at Northside High School in Atlanta, Georgia, then President Ronald Reagan explained that tax loopholes allowing a millionaire to pay lower taxes than a bus driver were “crazy,” because they allowed the “truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share”.

The wealthy pay even less taxes than they did in Ronald Reagan's era, so let's impose a tax on the wealthiest in Dunwoody to add more police officers as the wealthiest have the most to lose and require the most protection. Now that's more than a fair tax!

Colleen O'Casey said...

But hey wait there Ms. Glory, the rich suffer too! Please take heed of what I have been told was a distant relative of mine once wrote:

"Wealth often takes away chances from men as well as poverty. There is none to tell the rich to go on striving, for a rich man makes the law that hallows and hollows his own life."

Sean O'Casey

Jack B. Nimble said...

For informational purposes, here's the site for the complete speech that you referenced.
http://tinyurl.com/6bylyzl

At what income do you think a Dunwoody resident is wealthy?

And, if you are not among the wealthiest do you expect to be protected by the police that you don't feel obligated to pay for?

I apologize, John, that this post has been taken off topic.

Colleen O'Casey said...

And oh Chip, I loved the Goethe allusion!

DunwoodyTalk said...

A good point was made by Dr. Bonser at council regarding crime data mining and collection. The new ChatComm software was suppose to aid the chief in fighting crime by providing reports of crime. One of the reasons given to switch to ChatComm was this collection of data. Chip is right, had the chief simply made the case for more boots on the ground, including school patrol, he may have received more support.

dundevil said...

Jack B. assume that a particular Dunwoodyite is monetarily wealthy. If that person was willing to pay extra taxes would would he choose police protection or parks and lovely signs?

Government should exist to provide essential services.

Police is an essential service need. Parks are nice if there is available extra tax money. But they are a "want" and not an essential need.

Some Dunwoody council members and Dunwoody residents are Iggies.... Instant gratification generationites. Just a cultural thing I guess.

John Heneghan said...

I needed further clarification of Dunwoody crime stats therefore I have posted Chief Grogan's reply for all to see.

Dunwoody Crime stats vs Money Magazine Best Places to Live.

.

Sight Edman said...

Off topic.

While there may be a correlation, especially over time, since when did "income" equate to "wealth". Seems in the past wealth was what you had, not what you earned. If Dunwoody works diligently to increase our taxes sixty to seventy percent every few years even many high earners in the city will have little hope of becoming wealthy.

Back to regularly scheduled program...