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City working "to turn the tide of violence” at Tech

Community leaders gather to pledge support for student safety; unveil high-tech police cruiser to be used jointly by Atlanta and Georgia Tech police departments

The Atlanta Police Department and announced Monday a unique corporate and community partnership resulting in the unveiling of a car that is conducting joint patrols of the campus, as well as surrounding neighborhoods and commercial districts.

The press conference at Tenth Street Underwood Memorial United Methodist Church in Home Park was even attended by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who along with APD Chief George Turner and Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson, stressed that despite the recent rash of armed robberies on and near the school’s campus, crime is down at Tech.

Still, the tone of most who spoke suggested that much needs to be done "to turn the tide of violence” as the mayor called it.

“Georgia Tech … really is an essential element to the City of Atlanta’s success,” Reed explained. “So to the extent that Georgia Tech has a problem, Atlanta has a problem. And I don’t want anyone to have a notion that we aren’t focused on dealing with this challenge as partners.”

As the mayor spoke, behind him was displayed the 2011 Dodge Charger Enforcer II, the new, high-tech police cruiser that has been in use for about a month in nightly joint patrols of Home Park, Atlantic Station, Georgia Tech and Midtown with an Atlanta Police Department and Georgia Tech Police Department officer riding together.

The $37,000 cruiser was made possible by donations and a corporate-community partnership of the Midtown Alliance (and its Midtown Blue public safety program), North American Properties (managers of Atlantic Station) the Home Park Community Improvement Association, and the Atlanta Police Foundation.

The unveiling of the gunmetal gray car with distinctive lettering (red for Atlanta Police and gold for Georgia Tech) came just about a week after an undergraduate student was awakened in his on-campus dormitory room and robbed at gunpoint.

A week prior to that brought several off-campus armed robberies, including some in the Home Park area, as according to statistics provided by the APD, crime outside the university bubble has increased in the last three years. (see charts provided)

“The 2,000 officers that we are building towards in the City of Atlanta will be used to make sure that this college campus is among the safest large college campuses in the United States of America,’’ Reed said.

Peterson said the recent crimes were "troubling" and that school officials were "very concerned." He also indicated he remained against a GeorgiaCarry.org-backed movement that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses including Tech’s. "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 or any other," he said.

The Atlanta Police Foundation was instrumental in facilitating the donation for the car, which students have nicknamed the ‘Flying Saucer’ due to all its lights.

“This car’s distinctive look and high visibility will ensure that students, business owners and residents alike can rest assured that the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia Tech Police Department are true partners in preventing crime,” Turner said. “These kinds of partnerships are at the heart of the APD’s mission statement of partnering with our community to reduce crime and improve the quality of life.”

Col. Wayne Mock, public safety manager for Midtown Blue, explained that a new security camera was being installed Monday at the intersection of 10th and Hirsch streets that in essence “becomes an officer on a pole.” A second camera will soon be installed at the intersection of 10th and Hemphill Avenue.

“We appreciate the work of the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia Tech Police Department in ensuring the safety of the Home Park community and surrounding areas,” Kathy Boehmer, public safety chair of the Home Park Civic Improvement Association, said in a statement. “We’re happy to support this effort, as we know the joint patrol car will add greatly to our sense of security.”

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