Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Perceptions of Crime, Time & Personal Safety - DeKalb had a 10 minute response time to the home invasion.

Crime in Dunwoody (as a whole) is relatively low and we are lucky to live in such a place but when a horrific event happens it alters or even pops the bubble that we live in and the situation is perceived to be worse than it actually is. Violent home invasions do not happen every day in Dunwoody and the one that took place last Thursday appears to be a targeted occurrence therefore the chance of it happening to another random Dunwoody resident seems to be very low.

I received numerous e-mails from the community informing me of the 20 minute response time and even have a letter from the victims family which quotes the same. I felt horrible for the family involved and was personally disappointed at the quoted response time for such a violent crime. I spent several hours listening to the police calls from the evening of the 15th and when I could not corroborate the facts, I ran with the story as it was relayed to me.

Today I received a comment on the blog from Captain Kevin Ellison of the DeKalb County Police Department who reviewed the audio tapes and clarified that the response time from DeKalb was 10 minutes and not the 20 as alluded to in my original story. In order to correct the situation I have posted Captain Ellison’s response below on the front page for all to see.

Was I wrong to publish what I wrote based on the information I had on hand at the time; I am still not sure? As I have stated in the past, I tend to be an equal opportunity pain in the ass and if my Mother was the Police Chief; I probably would have written the exact same thing in order to ensure my neighbors of the proper services that they should be getting. The residents on that street voiced several concerns to me regarding their perception of the service being provided and I merely echoed their sediments in order to give them a voice and let them be heard. I apologize if my tone was a little harsh, since I should have edited down the residents comments a little more than I did prior to putting then onto the blog. I hope you understand that I meant no harm. If the same events were to happen with the Dunwoody Police Department please know that I would immediately be talking to the Chief Grogan and the City Manager making all inquiries; unfortunately that wasn't the case last week.

The blog entry received several comments ranging from arming every citizen to 20 minutes being an acceptable response time and to be honest I don’t believe that the citizens should have to live with either of these two polar options. A dialog on crime and police services were started because of this event among the readers and as they are learning in Atlanta, talking about crime is the first step to taking positive actions and I would like to encourage more discussion on the topic. The Dunwoody Police Department is still in its infancy and I urge you to give them and your elected official’s feedback as to what type of service levels you want your department to provide.

I have talked publicly about mapped crime statistics, a city sponsored neighborhood watch program with a reverse 911 (Callingpost) system to inform the neighbors of crime in the area, strict speed enforcement in school zones, a few Spanish speaking officers and the right size Department to properly serve the citizens needs.

What do you want from your Police Department? You have seven elected officials who really do want to hear from you, talk to them about your desires but also please remember that there is a limited police budget that your elected officials are trying to stay within.

Below is the reply from Captain Kevin Ellison regarding Thursday nights home invasion.

Mr. Heneghan and others,

My name is Captain Kevin Ellison and I am the Asst. Commander of the North Precinct. A concerned Dunwoody citizen brought this issue of call response to my attention. I was already familiar with the call from last week and I looked into the issue further. I found out that the call in question was on 01/15/2009.

2156 – Call received by 911
2157 – Dispatched to a police unit
2200 – Helicopter was dispatched to area
2207 – First officer arrives on scene
2207 – Helicopter begins take off procedures at heliport
2230 – Helicopter is on scene

Our response time was 10 minutes for the first officer to arrive. 2 additional officers responded to circulate in the area and a supervisor went to the scene. I prefer that we arrive quicker than 10 minutes to this type of call. I will look into this further.

We had information from the victim that the suspects blew a tire when fleeing the scene. There was a good possibility that the vehicle was disabled in the area and we had armed suspects on the ground.

In addition, it is common practice to dispatch aerial support for violent felony crimes anywhere in the county.

I hope this clears things up. In addition I have been with DeKalb PD for 21 years and I have spent 7 of those years working in the North Precinct at various rank levels.

I can speak for the precinct in that we look forward to working with the city and the new police department. I met Chief Grogan and Mayor Wright at the swearing-in ceremony and I believe they will do a fine job in their new positions.

If you have any questions please call me at 404-297-3814.

Thank You

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