After releasing information last week on a suspect possibly involved in recent armed robberies of students, the Atlanta Police Department will hold a joint press conference with the school Monday afternoon to announce a new tool in its effort to combat crime on and near the campus.
Midtown Alliance will also be involved in the partnership as officials from Atlantic Station owner and manager North American Properties and the Home Park neighborhood are also expected to be on hand today.
APD officials recently released a video of a man entering and leaving the Marathon gas station, located at the corner of Northside Drive and 10th Street, whom they say may be one of the gunmen who has been holding up Tech students in recent weeks.
The man, seen in the accompanying video with this story, attempted to use a credit card in the late evening hours of June 22, just after it had been stolen from a student.
On that date, there were four, separate armed robberies of pedestrians just off of campus. As it was last December when a rash of attacks occurred, suspects have targeted people walking alone near Home Park. In general, victims are approached from the rear where then the suspects display a handgun and demand the victim’s cell phone and other property.
Then during the early morning hours of July 1, crime shifted on campus as a male student was awakened in his North Avenue Apartments East residence to find two unknown male suspects, who had bypassed three layers of campus security to gain entrance in the room, tampering with his laptop. When he asked the suspects what they were doing, one of them pointed a handgun at the student before stealing his laptop and cell phone.
According to police reports, black males in their late teens to mid-20s have been the suspects in all of the robberies.
“We're working on the assumption that [the crimes] are going to be related, because of the physical descriptions [of the gunmen],” said APD Lt. J.D. Cantin. “And the M.O. matches almost exactly what they're doing and how they're doing it."
Channel 2 Action News reported that during this past weekend’s freshmen orientation on the Tech campus, the group ‘Georgia Tech Students for Concealed Carry’ had a booth set up advocating allowing concealed weapons on campus to help prevent crime.
Earlier this year, House Bill 981, which would allow Georgians to carry concealed weapons in public schools, college campuses and other locations such as bars and most government buildings, briefly came before the Georgia General Assembly. In Georgia, you must be at least 21 to get a concealed weapon permit and many such age college students contend there is a need for guns to be allowed on campus.
On Monday, Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson said is not in favor of students carrying weapons on his campus. "I've opposed the concealed carry on campus. I think it is a mistake and I don't think it is the right thing for our campus," Peterson said.
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Last December, Tech police began testing a new mobile surveillance system called SkyCop. The high-tech policing device can stream live video from remote locations, scan license plates to check for stolen cars and flash blue lights just like a patrol car.
In January, it was announced that five new officers would soon join the Georgia Tech Police Department bringing its total number of officers to 81.
"With the new hires, we will be able to staff a plain clothes unit assigned to daily hot spots," Georgia Tech Police Chief Teresa Crocker said at the time of the announcement. "The expansion of the crime prevention unit will help us better address the demands of the campus community."
Two of the new officers were to be assigned to crime prevention. The other three officers were to be assigned to patrol -- including one officer who has been working in partnership with the APD in patrolling the northern border of Georgia Tech's campus, as well as the Home Park and Atlantic Station neighborhoods.
Midtown Alliance was also among those who donated money to purchase a joint patrol car for the Home Park and Georgia Tech area. Both Atlanta police and Tech police use the vehicle.
But with Monday’s anticipated announcement of a new tool to use to combat crime on and near the campus, police are still working to curtail crime in the Georgia Tech area.
One security option for Home Park residents is to sign up for the neighborhood watch program, Village Defense. And since it was developed by a pair of Home Park residents, it is offered free of charge to those who call the neighborhood home in an effort to better provide a communication channel between Home Park residents.
With one phone call, Village Defense will trigger a message to go out to all registered participants in the community when a crime occurs. This way, everybody knows what's going on and what to look out for. Messages are delivered simultaneously as a cell phone call, landline call, and text message.
The goal of real-time awareness is to maximize the witness potential of the neighborhood. Learn more about Village Defense here.