Decaturish Speaks with Decatur PD’s Sgt. Ross About Recent Crime

Over on Decaturish, resident and journalist Dan Whisenhunt is doing a great job of providing some much needed in-depth reporting on the recent crime uptick over the summer.  He’s now posted another piece that came out of a two-hour conversation with Decatur PD’s Public Information Officer Sgt. Jennifer Ross.  Here’s a taste…

Decatur has a low rate of violent crime, but a glut of media coverage of some high profile incidents has put the Decatur police department in the spotlight.

What’s happening in Decatur is part of a broader trend in East Atlanta, Sgt. Ross said.

Criminals don’t really study geographic boundaries. Metro Atlanta residents take pride in them. They will hold accountable the government closest to them.

I spoke with Sgt. Ross for nearly two hours about her job, life as a police officer and the recent “crime wave” in Decatur. During our interview, Deputy Chief Keith Lee and Chief Mike Booker dropped by to say hello.

20 thoughts on “Decaturish Speaks with Decatur PD’s Sgt. Ross About Recent Crime”

  1. Excellent article. The following is worth highlighting:

    “So what do you do when someone runs at you and points a gun in your face, I asked.

    Sgt. Ross said at that point, your options are limited.

    “Give them what they want and be the best witness that you can,” she advised. “I live in Oakhurst and I walk to those restaurants. If someone has the drop on me – in our terminology – there’s no way to get to my gun. I’m going to give them what they’re asking for.”

    She said the best thing you can do after a crime is also one of the best things you can do to prevent being a victim: pay attention.


    She said victims should focus on, “Being the best witness you can possibly be.”

    Sgt. Ross said people should try to remember as much as possible about what a suspect is wearing and what direction the suspect went after the crime.”

    Your wallet or your iPhone isn’t worth risking your life. The people committing these crimes are stupid, reckless, and callous, but they’re not looking to kill you–if they were, they could just pop you without asking. But if you freak out or start reaching for a gun or whatever, they’ll probably shoot.

    1. Without getting into a discussion about this again (as I agree in many situations pulling a gun may not be the best move), I have lay out some differing views:

      I wouldn’t be risking my life over my wallet or phone. I would be risking my life to prevent the possibility that my life will be taken. Big difference. You state that “they’re not looking to kill you–if they were, they could just pop you without asking.” One, you don’t know that and two, the individuals that have been shot recently were told to hand over there belonging, they complied and were then shot. So, the facts don’t correspond with your statement.

      My thought is that I would rather have the option than not. Would I use it under every scenario? Nope, but I sure as hell would want to be able to if I felt it necessary.

      1. Well said. I have never understood why we are supposed to not assume the worst about the person holding us at gunpoint and why we should give them the benefit of the doubt. So often when one of these criminals gets killed in a home invasion or attempted armed robbery, Fox 5 has the mother on the 11PM news wailing “MY BABY WOULD NEVER HURT NOBODY”. Of course this is after he kicked in someone’s door holding a gun in his hand.

        Having said that, I agree that you should hand over your phone and wallet, and you should take action only if you believe you or your loved ones are in serious danger. But, that is only on the street. If someone breaks in my house while I am there, I am going to act as if (a) he is there to hurt me or my family or (b) at the very least, he doesn’t give a damn if we do get hurt.

      2. Walrus, somebody is holding a gun near you asking for your stuff. Do you really think that you’re less likely to get injured or killed if you try to whip out your piece on the guy rather than just giving him your stuff? C’mon. Do I think that there is *no* chance that you’ll get shot anyway if you hand over your stuff? No. But it’s far safer, even if it’s galling to be a victim.

        1. +1 In the moment of being held up with a gun, it’s not about whether or not you believe in gun ownership, but about what is the safest action to take.

        2. “as I agree in many situations pulling a gun may not be the best move”

          direct quote from Walrus’ post

          1. Another direct quote: “I wouldn’t be risking my life over my wallet or phone. I would be risking my life to prevent the possibility that my life will be taken. Big difference.”

            And I was saying that that would be a really stupid risk to take in the particular sort of situation that we’re discussing, because your chance of having your life taken or getting seriously injured is much higher if you try to pull your gun than if you hand over your stuff.

            1. My thought: Would not be smart in every situation, but I would like the option be available if it were a good situation to do so, so as to not leave my fate in the hands of this thug.

              Your thought: You should leave your fate in hands of the thug under all circumstances in which a gun has been brandished.

              We will just have to agree to leave it at that.

            2. If your preferred method of carry is a front pocket holster, the “pulling your gun” is as natural as reaching for the wallet the thief is demanding. Everyone’s always picturing some kind of Wild West quick draw.

  2. I believe the most important advice offered was “pay attention”, which so many are failing to do since the advent of smartphones.

    1. +1,000 Being drunk is another sure way to decrease your awareness. I would also add that walking in groups is best when out at night. Sure a group can still be a target (ala Oakhurst Park incident) but it decreases your vulnerability.

    2. Absolutely, positively agree. Every self defense course I have taken teaches this is the first and best line of defense. SO MANY people these days are walking around looking at their phones, with little or no awareness of what is going on around them.! My self defense teachers–and these are the courses that actually teach you how to fight, disarm, and kill the attacker if it is warranted–have said, first and foremost, be aware of your surroundings.

      When you walk through a parking lot, don’t be fumbling around with packages or looking for your keys. Put away your phone and have your keys in your hand before you step out of the door (I was even taught to keep my key poking out between my fingers as a potential weapon). Keep your head up, your eyes open, and scan the parking lot, sidewalks, and alleys for anyone suspicious. Chances are, if there is a criminal looking for a target, he/she will not pick the person who is alert and checking the scene. Yes, it’s a defensive way to live, but it can save your life. Don’t be an easy target.

      And before this sparks a debate: I am not saying that anyone deserves to be targeted. No one deserves to be a victim, no matter how oblivious he/she might be to surroundings.

  3. Oh, good. I was afraid that this thread would take a completely different direction and we would miss the whole “That’s why I carry a gun and ain’t afraid to use it/You’re an idiot and are gonna get us all killed” debate.

  4. So, having lived and gone to school in New Orleans, just let me say that the preferred route is to drink enough alcohol that you (a) don’t care that someone just took your stuff and (b) can’t feel it if they shoot you. In all seriousness, some of my law school friends escaped would-be muggers because they were so drunk that they ran away while the fellows had guns pointed at them. It wasn’t until the next morning that reality set in that they could have been killed. At the same time, another good friend did exactly what the muggers asked, and ended up face-down by the riverfront with a gun to the back of his head. The muggers fired, the gun misfired, and he lived to tell about it. Long winded way of saying that you just never know how things will turn out, so drink up and enjoy!

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