Time for Atlanta to call Batman

Today’s news of a Georgia Tech student robbed at gunpoint at an off-campus apartment complex reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to investigate: why is the Atlanta Police Department so unbelievably incompetent at doing its job?

These reports from the Atlanta Police Department document the continued rise in violent crimes throughout Atlanta in 2011, despite nation-wide trends in the opposite direction. Compared to just one year ago, rape has skyrocketed, up 87 percent in 2011. Also, “pocketpicking” is up by 83 percent, “purse snatching” by 31 percent, robbery by 8 percent, auto theft by another 8 percent and aggravated assault by 3 percent. But, don’t worry; it’s not all bad news. Crimes against coin operated machines and theft from motor vehicles are both down for the year. While I’m happy that our vending machines and cars are a little safer, I’d certainly trade a few broken car windows if it meant Atlanta PD could focus on slowing the terrifying rise in rape in the city. But maybe that’s just me.

Atlanta’s crime problem is especially pronounced in the downtown area, or “Zone 5″ in police lingo. With two massive Universities–responsible for over 52,000 students–located within Zone 5, as well as CNN’s global headquarters, the Fox Theatre, the Georgia Dome and Philips Arena, one would think that police would pretty much have the area on lock down. A smart police chief would understand that maintaining safe campus is crucial for a healthy learning environment and student and faculty retention, and that egregious criminal activity in the area would also risk driving away folks from sporting and cultural events or, worse, driving CNN out of Atlanta, any of which would severely impact the city’s revenue stream. Yeah, not so much. In 2011, Zone 5 continued its streak of having the highest amount of crime against property, a trophy that stretches back to at least 2009 and likely well before. Violent crimes are a major problem too. GSU’s zip code–30303–has the most violent crime, property crime and crimes per square mile in all of Georgia. To put last night’s robbery in perspective, in 2011 there were 427 robberies and 377 accounts of aggravated assault in the few square miles surrounding the two Universities. Since 2010, there have been eight documented accounts of armed robbery on GSU’s campus alone. So much for a safe learning environment!

What is the Atlanta PD doing to slow this rise in violent crimes you ask? Good question. For starters, they are arresting fewer people. In 2011, arrests were down 13 percent overall, including an 8 percent decline in arrests for robberies like that which took place last night. They are also occasionally assaulting innocent women dining at the IHOP and helping drug dealers sell drugs. Some Atlanta PD are even getting free housing for doing such a terrible job! Crime is up? Check. Arrests are down? Check. You sir get a free home. Oh, and did I mention one in three police officers has a criminal record and was rejected by other law enforcement agencies before scoring a cushy gig with Atlanta PD? Now that’s quality control.

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