Three Armed Robberies Of DHS Students After Football Game

Be careful and vigilant out there. From DPD…

On 08/30/13, Decatur police responded to the following three armed robberies calls involving Decatur High School students leaving the football game.

In the first incident, the victim reported he and a friend were leaving the football game at approximately 9:45 pm when they passed the two suspects on the driveway between the lower lot and upper lot of Decatur High School. One suspect asked the victim for the time and the victim removed his cell phone from his pocket and provided the time and then continued on. The victim and his friend were walking past Renfroe Middle School minutes later when the suspects ran up behind the victim, one suspect grabbed the victim by his shoulder while the second suspect pressed a small silver semi-automatic handgun to the victim’s back and demanded his phone. The victim relinquished his phone and the suspects fled south on Adams Street. The victim was not injured. An iPhone 4 was taken. The suspects were described as follows:

Suspect #1: Black male, 16-18 years old, approximately 5’9-5’10, medium complexion, close cut hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

Suspect #2: Black male.

In the second incident, the victim reported at approximately 10:25 pm she was walking around the corner from the front of Decatur High School along the path to the upper lot, talking on her phone, when she observed one suspect on the path in front of her and suddenly a second suspect came up behind her. The first suspect pressed an unknown object to her neck and the second suspect grabbed her neck in the crook of his arm from behind. The suspects took her bag and phone and pushed her to the ground and fled toward the front of the school. The victim was not injured. An iPhone 5 was taken. The suspects were described as follows:

Suspect #1: Black male, 16-17 years old, dark complexion, muscular build, wearing a black shirt and dark jeans.

Suspect #2: Black male, dark complexion, wearing a grey sweatshirt.

In the third incident, the victim reported at approximately 10:40 pm he and four friends were walking south on North McDonough Street approaching the Decatur High School gym when three suspects walked out of the shadows near Maple Street and crossed North McDonough Street. The first suspect asked the victim for the time and the victim removed his cell phone from his pocket and provided the time. The first suspect then grabbed the victim in a “choke hold” and demanded the victim give him the phone. The victim refused and the second suspect pressed a small black semi-automatic handgun to the victim’s neck and the victim relinquished his phone. The suspects left walking northbound on North McDonough Street. The victim was not injured. An iPhone 4 was taken. The suspects were described as follows:

Suspect #1: Black male, late teens-early 20’s, approximately 6’0-6’2, medium-dark complexion, low hair-cut, wearing a black long sleeved “Air Jordan” logo t-shirt, black shorts and black & white Nike Air Jordan 4 “Oreo” sneakers.

Suspect #2: Black male, late teens-early 20’s, approximately 5’5-5’7, medium complexion, low hair-cut, wearing a red polo style shirt and extremely saggy jeans or sweatpants.

Suspect #3: Black male, late teens-early 20’s, wearing a red shirt.

In each of the calls there were delays in reporting as some victims relocated and called police and in one case the initial call was not reported as a robbery.

If you have any additional information, please contact the Decatur Police Department at 404/373-6551.

187 thoughts on “Three Armed Robberies Of DHS Students After Football Game”


  1. Good lord. I don’t think we’re going to have a lot of debate this time over whether these fall into the bullying category or the felony crime category. Glad the kids are okay.

  2. Wow. These have to be connected, right?
    Someone needs to develop the app equivalent of the exploding ink bombs banks use. (Maybe some type of extremely loud noise that’s activated by a second device and can only be defeated by destroying the phone?) It’s clear that smart phones are the motivation for these crimes. I read somewhere that more than half of the robberies in New York involve phones.

    1. I have an app just that, it makes an extremely loud noise and makes the perpetrators leave a traceable trail of red drops.

    2. Reading the descriptions of the robbers (pretty good ones), or appears 7 different males were involved.

      1. Indeed, they are good descriptions. My comment below (trapped in moderation limbo due to link) is that the AJC’s story on these crimes almost entirely omits these descriptions. Thanks, AJC, for not helping!

        1. They didn’t entirely omit the descriptions, they just passed them through the PC filter:

          “The suspects in each of the cases were described as young men in their late teens and early 20s.”

    3. I am not so sure that the IPhones are the motivation. To me it has the feel of gang initiation. My theory is that the IPhones are merely symbolic of “The Haves.” To get one, is essentially to steal your enemy’s flag.

  3. Disclaimer: The following statement is not “blaming the victim.” Nor is it necessarily referring to the particular crimes reported above.

    People need to realize that walking around with an Iphone in hand is essentially the same from the criminals perspective as walking around with two or three hundred dollars in your hand.

    1. It sounded like at least two of the victims had their phones up out of sight and were asked for the time. they politely pulled out their phone and checked, prob a ploy to check out the phone. maybe we need to coach our kids to say ‘sorry, don’t know’ instead of being helpful.

      my middle schooler had no interest in going to the game last night because he had heard that so many kids got their phones stolen during the pre season game last week. very sad.

      1. DPD has no reports of phones being stolen at last week’s game. They said they know of an incident where a phone was put down and then went missing, but that’s the only incident known.

        1. he said most people left them at their seat or were not careful with them, and no telling if 2 lost phones escalated in the rumor mill to “lots of kids” had their phones stolen. no middle school reports last week of armed muggings during the game.

          and I agree that it sounds odd for there to be so many different descriptions of suspects for three crimes happening around the same time. guessing a gang initiation of some kind? hope it doesn’t get any bolder than phone theft.

          the phones in our household are not worth it, but can you get lo jack on your fancy phone? I know you can for laptops. would be great to catch these guys.

    2. I agree. Watch any gathering of teens disperse – after sports practice, after an athletic event, after school, wherever – and what’s the first thing they do? They get out their phones. It makes them low hanging fruit for opportunistic criminals. I am not blaming the victim at all, but I don’t think teens have the life experience to walk around with something so coveted in their hands (or pockets). I might have recognized the “what time is it?” ploy for what it was, but I know my teen wouldn’t.
      And to think that a teen could have been seriously hurt or killed over a phone – and that another teen might have been willing to kill to get it. It makes me sick.

    3. I use my phone in public all the time. So does everyone here. Respoding to Decaturmom’s point, it isn’t just the children who pull the phone out after these events. Next time you are at a game/practive/event, look around when it is over. We all call home when these events are over to check in or see if we need to pick something up or whatever. And guess what, we aren’t to blame in the least little bit. We should all be aware of our surroundings and teach our children the same, but there is way too much blaming the victim in these posts. 2 of the 3 had their phones put away, and people still feel compellted to say “Well, if they weren’t flashing their phone around, it wouldn’t have happened to them”. What is the message here “Don’t use/wear/drive anything of value in public”?

  4. My son and two of his friends were supposed to walk home after the game and I was really concerned about them doing that, my son said not to worry there were cops everywhere. Luckily they got a ride home with his friend’s parents. This is completely out of control when our kids are not safe to go to a football game at their school and walk 2 blocks home. Apparently school starting back has not stopped the crime sprees, I don’t know what it’s going to take.

  5. I’m stunned. I’ve lived here a long time and never felt so unsafe. Maybe we were safer when we were less affluent. This isn’t feeling like Mayberry meets Berkeley anymore. More like Mayberry meets Scarsdale.

  6. Hope they catch these low-lifes. Neither the Decatur community nor any community deserves to be victimized by these kinda thugs.

  7. I am glad everyone is okay. I also hope the 911 dispatchers went easy on the kids. They get pretty foul if you don’t know your exact GPS coordinates when calling 911 to report a problem.

  8. I am stunned too–
    I have never heard so many people talking about moving as well. Decatur and crime is not going well and never hear anything about trying to make it better- real bummer-nothing else to say – we are not a bubble and it is the ATL – one of the worst cities for crime.

  9. I’m so glad none of the kids involved were injured. But let’s face it people, our neighborhood is becoming more affluent whether people like it or not. I’m just guessing here, but it seems like thieves know this fact. Some on here are saying how scared they are and talking about moving? That’s crazy. Let’s not all be victims here. I think we need to teach the kids to be aware of their surroundings and not on their phones. Not to walk down dark alleys by themselves or at all and to keep in groups. Let’s not be afraid but rather rally as a community and fight back.

    1. I agree we should be fighting back, but I also disagree that it’s crazy to have that impulse to want to move when you can’t even go to a T-ball game, walk home from a football game, or sit in your own front yard without worrying someone’s going to pull a gun on you. My husband was already physically assaulted and had his iPhone stolen once. I’m scared to walk to the MARTA station anymore, or walk my 4yo downtown for dinner, which was a big part of why we moved here in the first place. These problems just seem so pervasive now, and there’s no end in sight.

      I saw someone on another board talk about how it was crazy to build the high school right across from housing projects. I’ve lived next to those projects for 2 1/2 years and never had a single problem. The perpetrators could have come from anywhere, inside or outside of Decatur. It sounds like they knew exactly what they were doing, waiting until they had confirmation of a victim being in possession of a cell phone and then attacking. I have a BlackBerry and I always joke no one will want it, but I’ve stopped using it when walking. I’ve even heard of people being robbed for near-worthless flip phones, so who knows?

      1. Well that’s just crazy. I run multiple times during the week and have never hesitated to run during the morning. I walk my almost 4 year old to Oakhurst park multiple times per week plus we frequent other Decatur parks during the week. I choose not to be afraid and I will rally all my Mama friends on DecaturMama and other groups to get out and not be afraid. Just because you have been a victim should not mean that you should act victimized. If kids have been allowed to have a phone then they should act responsibly with a phone. Saying no kids should walk around with a phone is unrealistic and silly. That’s not the world we currently live in. I have personally stopped a robbery of my next door neighbors house, twice. I choose not to be victimized.

        1. There’s that word again, “crazy.” I will posit once more that it’s not a “crazy” reaction to a violent crime, or to having your life threatened, to be a little fearful and concerned. I’m not going to curl up in a corner and never leave the house again, but yes, I’m scared. I’ve traveled on three continents by myself and I’ve lived in more dangerous places than Decatur, so I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to crime, but all the gun stuff lately DOES make me think twice about when and where I walk, etc. I didn’t say I’d stopped walking places, but yeah, I’m staying off the phone in public, and I feel hyper-vigilant all the time. It would be nice not to have to feel on high alert in my own neighborhood.

          1. Misha, I can tell you as a fellow former victim of an armed robbery (knife in face instead of gun in back), I do relate to a very heightened sense of potential danger. It is a different adrenaline respnse for many if this type of thing has happened to you or a close loved one. But Misha, I can also tell you that for me, as more time went by, the less the regular- and unregular- public dangers have activated the fears of walking around, etc.- I’m hoping this will happen for you too.

        2. “Saying no kids should walk around with a phone is unrealistic and silly. ”

          Agreed. But they should not be walking around with them in their hand, looking down at the screen, etc. It’s exactly why places with lots of pedestrians (GSU and Ga Tech campuses, for example) are targets for criminals looking for easy marks. Crime or no crime, though, it’s reckless and irresponsible, and needs the same discouragement directed at drivers who engage in such behavior with their phones. I don’t think it’s silly to insist kids (and adults) demonstrate some impulse control.

          1. Everyone needs to be vigilant but it’s also worth noting that in 2 of the 3 recent incidents, the phones were not on display. It’s pretty much a fair assumption that most teenagers have a phone, and that most college kids are toting a phone, probably a laptop, and cash in their pocket. They’re probably just targeting people who they think will put up the least amount of resistance, teens or adults. Since they’re breaking in houses and robbing people in broad daylight too, it’s fair to assume they’re going where they feel they’re least likely to be caught. I think it’s less a cellphone issue, and more of a general crime wave issue. The break-ins have slowed but not stopped, and it’s hard to not see this as all being tied together somewhere.

          2. Agreed and I stated that as well in my previous comment further up on the replies. Someone had commented that kids shouldn’t have phones. That’s just unrealistic in this day and age. But as I stated before, people should have some common sense and not walk around with them in their hands and they should be skeptical of others asking the time. I think it’s our job as parents to discuss safety measures with our kids, such as staying in groups and making sure parents know where they are at all times.

            1. Staying in groups is sound advice but not completely protective. Two of the three DHS victims Friday night were in a group. This is one of the reasons that the episodes are so upsetting. The kids weren’t doing anything stupid, but just walking in Decatur on sensible routes.

  10. I don’t understand the post stealing Iphone Economy. Is this just a badge of criminal competency or is this something that can be converted into an asset? If so where, when, how and why isn’t that aftermarket being shut down?

  11. What if we all just have our kids leave their phones at home? We survived our childhood and teen years just fine without them. Am I crazy? I’ve been tempted to get a phone–something like an Tracphone or flip phone, though–for my daughter (5th grader at FAVE) to communicate in case something comes up midday regarding her to and from school transportation, but I’ve held off. I know as she gets older more and more friends will have iPhones, but I am starting to see them as a liability more than an asset.

    Maybe if fewer kids reliably have iPhones on them at all times, the criminals will be less inclined to target them.

    This was just my concern when the iPhone related robberies started in the late winter, spring, and summer. Hoping I was wrong, I thought it was just a matter of time before they started preying on kids with iPhones.

    I myself have been inclined to leave my iPhone at home, but I’ve at least kept it tucked away in my purse while out and about. I don’t know if kids have the ability to use the same discretion and judgement on where and when it’s appropriate to use their phone.

  12. Not that long ago the entire Decatur police force would be at the stadium to keep the peace during rivalry games like Crim. looks like now we need them to set up a post game perimeter so everyone can get home safely.

    1. I just find it strange that these incidents happened over an hour, and the last one happened in front of the school – where was the police? Especially if there are guns present, wouldn’t you think there would be a large police presence by that third incident?
      As crime evolves, our community needs to adapt.
      I hope the police are planning on patrolling the parking lot, and N McDonough after the games until these a-holes get frustrated and move on.

      1. The fact that there was time between each of the Friday night copycat incidents and yet they kept occurring does bother me too. My guess is that there were delays and confusion in reporting, plus the 3 incidents didn’t all occur in the same place even though they all involved students leaving the stadium. Certainly, there’s a lesson here–to jump all over an incident in case more are to follow.

  13. I would love if our community would fight back.
    And people kept walking.

    What happened can be traumatizing to young brains. It cant keep happening.

    1. Kind of a huge city-wide neighborhood watch with ok by police and leadership by city and links to the school system and resource officers? Sounds good to me tho’ not my area of expertise. Just tell us residents how we can help and most of us will chip in our time and effort.

  14. Everyone should put the Prey app on his phone – and their kids’ phones!

    http://preyproject.com/

    When the phone is stolen, you get a message showing its location (triangulated from wifi), and the camera surreptitiously takes a picture with its front-facing camera. The police can then go get the phone and use the picture to arrest the bastards.

  15. When are the “kill switches” that Apple & the other companies keep talking about going to come to fruition? If the phone can be immediately disabled, what use will they be? So, so angry that this is happening.

    1. I wondered this myself a few days and read a little about it, everything seemed to point to Autumn with Apple, and if they do it, others will follow. here is the kicker- there’s been a serious reluctance from the industry to push for the change, despite all the thefts, because any phone on, even a stolen phone, is good for the carriers. They make money from the victims buying new phones, and getting a new contract from whoever winds up with the phone.

    2. This has already existed (sort of) for some time. The native Find My iPhone app includes options to either put the phone into “Lost Mode” or to erase it remotely.

      It doesn’t “kill” the phone, necessarily, but it does ensure your data doesn’t get stolen along with the phone, which is arguably the greater concern.

      1. “It doesn’t “kill” the phone, necessarily, but it does ensure your data doesn’t get stolen along with the phone, which is arguably the greater concern.”

        I believe the greater concern is the theft itself, so I think an irreversible “kill switch” is a better idea–if it were widely used–because it would take away the economic motivation for the thieves. Of course, it would be great if such a feature recorded the location before killing the phone.

  16. I’ve expected this overall crime spree to be temporary and subside, but continue to get surprised as more reports emerge. If people truly get concerned, it will adversely affect property values and after-dark commerce, and may make make sense to get in front of it with bolstering the police presence, or some type of community involvement that another person mentioned. Or maybe more cameras, which has been mentioned on previous threads. It seems time to invest, one way or another.

  17. Ugh… I’m sick of this. I Phones are stolen frequently at Decatur High (not that the kids should have them at school to begin with – but that’s another post). I was in the office at DHS not too long ago, and listened to an administrator chew out a freshmen girl because her IPhone was stolen, telling her that she should never leave it in the locker room because she knows things get stolen there all the time. Ugh! Heeellloooo!!! Maybe she was careless, but I saw no indication that there was concern that a student had apparently committed GRAND LARCENY. The blame was on this victim girl – no discussion about trying to figure out who had taken it. It irritated the heck out of me so I sort of let the administrator have a piece of my mind, right there in front of the girl and my own daughter. I am really over hearing about how often phones and things are stolen at school.

    Got DHS Parent of the Year award for that for sure!

    There have been more serious juvenile incidents than these that, in my opinion, have been handled poorly by Decatur and DeKalb law enforcement. I love Decatur 99% of the time, but it’s incredibly frustrating to get the impression that they just don’t take crime seriously here, particularly when the alleged perpetrators and victims are minors. Kids can be careless and make mistakes but the crimes that have been committed against them are intentional and increasingly dangerous. The knee jerk mentality of blaming victims needs to shift a bit I think. It’s too easy to just blame the victim and sweep unpleasantness under the rug so Decatur keeps its Mayberry image than to solve the crime and convict the criminal.

    Of course, they got my husband good when he pulled out of a downtown parking lot without his seatbelt buckled….. So I can’t say law enforcement officials aren’t busy.

    Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but I wonder if we will have to wait until a kid is killed or seriously injured before we see a shift.

  18. Folks, the focus on iPhones and kills switches misses the larger reality. These thugs are not out there trying to join the Apple nation. They are out there to rob someone of something, anything, of value.

    If you or your kids don’t have a phone, then demands for a wallet, cash or bank card will immediately follow. Having grown up in a bad neighborhood where my team colors made me a prey item, the scariest thing to say to the end of a gun is that you have nothing to cough up, and no way to pacify the scared, unpredictable and dangerous teen holding it. Criminals don’t believe that claim, and get kinda pissed. Having a something to offer up, and being willing to part with it quickly, is a good thing. Don’t play hero out there.

    1. I always carry something I’m willing to part with quickly if a thug ever confronts me, 7 copper plated nuggets moving at 1,000 feet per second.

      1. Phew! I thought we might be getting soft around here and nobody was going to chime in with “I’d shoot those thugs dead!”

        1. Come on people! A gun will not help much if there is already one pointed at you. We obviously need IEDphones. You call your phone and when the criminal answers, you ask, “can you hear me now?” Thanks to voice recognition, this code phrase sets off the explosion. Yes, yes, I know. You will need to get a new phone, but the gang will need a new member.

      2. Sure, that’s an option. But its high stakes. If they have a gun on you and you don’t pull it, they’ll likely take it. If you decide to pull it after they’ve already got a gun on you (as in the case with these holdups), its a shootout at close range with them getting the first shot. Risky, but splattering a few of these teens on the street would sure discourage the rest. Btw, use hollow points, not full jackets.

        1. Since my pocket holster looks like a wallet, they’ll gladly let me present it to them.

          “Btw, use hollow points, not full jackets”

          All serious hollow points are jacketed, just not FMJ.

        1. I really hope this doesn’t led to alot of concealed carry in Oakhurst. Its one thing to have it at home for true defense of family etc, but to walk out onto the street with one tucked away is a huge risk to you and all of us too. I’m concerned it’ll lead to some temporary chest thumping without really thinking through to its logical conclusion. Are you truly prepared to accept or deliver one of those nasty nuggets? The consequences can be so sadly final for you or for them, or for neighbors, kids, bystanders who often end up on the receiving end. Its life altering either way,

          Isn’t it easier to just give up a cell phone or a wallet?

          1. What makes you think there isn’t a lot of concealed carry in Oakhurst now? There’s close to half a million weapons carry licensees in GA, and I’m betting there’s plenty of them in Oakhurst.

            You can lay with the sheep all you want and let the wolves have their way with you, but I’ve got a lifetime membership to the sheepdog club and don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon.

            1. @bikeboy
              I know there is some. I’ve even heard that some Dad’s pack for the walk with kids to and fro Oakhurst Elementary, which seems ridiculously dangerous to me. But I am well stocked in the house, so its not as though I don’t agree with the right to own and carry. But for everyone’s sake, I would implore all those with concealed permits to pls be careful and responsible.

      3. I never thought I would own a gun but I don’t feel safe in Decatur anymore. The day the lady was carjacked in broad daylight downtown I got a small handgun. I go to the shooting range and have become very comfortable using it. Also I’m applying for a conceal to carry permit. This has all become too much. I know if someone comes up behind you with a gun there’s not much you can do but I can definitely be proactive and not make myself easy prey for these thugs. I am always aware of my surroundings.

          1. Since somewhere around 40% of American households have at least one gun, clearly moving is crazier. And a lot more work.

      4. The only nuggets likely by be found when somebody has a gun pointed at your pie hole will be the ones dropping out of your pants legs.

    2. “Folks, the focus on iPhones and kills switches misses the larger reality. These thugs are not out there trying to join the Apple nation. They are out there to rob someone of something, anything, of value.”

      Not so sure about that. These types of crimes have been on the decline nationally for years. Most law enforcement experts blame the uptick almost solely on the ubiquity of smartphones. Few people carry cash anymore, bank cards have a short window of usability (and leave a trail), the smartphone is by far the item of greatest value most people carry and the easiest and safest to convert to cash

  19. What ever happened to “word of mouth?” “Hey, there was an armed robbery over there- let’s get outta here!!”

  20. I agree with Mr. FixIt. The “PC” thing is to say how great the DPD and APD are doing with these crimes but, from what I can tell, very few of these criminals have been caught, and it just continues–armed robberies left and right. I don’t understand this; are there not any cameras anywhere? Did they check school records in the area to see who was truant the other day when the poor middle-schooler was robbed for his phone in broad daylight? All I keep hearing is that the police are “getting close.” It’s their job to solve this problem for the taxpayers. Yes, we can be vigilant, and most of us are–don’t blame the kids who don’t have the judgment every second of every day to think, “gee–I might be robbed at gunpoint outside my well-lit and heavily populated school.” Grrrr. We don’t have kids in this school system, but are just as concerned as all the parents and community members out there. Walkable community? Nah. We need to organize carpools after every single school function so that someone’s kid doesn’t get shot one day by a worthless thug. And to think I once got a ticket from DPD for parking the wrong way on my street, in front of my own driveway. Worry about these armed criminals, not me trying to clean out my car.

    1. Follow the money. One of those things generates revenue. The other, not so much. Similar problems in Avondale. You might be able to rob a house in broad daylight here, but don’t try speeding down Coventry!

  21. I just took a run with my iPhone and for the first time I had to wonder if I should- that is sad– I did anyway- screw it – I don’t think I have ever lived anywhere that I to second think that either- bummer- and police presence around the neighborhoods have dropped significantly since things got “quiet” in the news. That’s a bummer too. And if these crimes happened on school grounds that stinks more.

    1. I know the point of your post was we really shouldn’t have to wonder about such things. But I’m still running with my phone because right now it’s my mile-tracker. If someone tells me to turn it over, I will do it as quickly as possible. When I have to start running in the dark I’m toying with the idea of carrying a whistle. I got my mom a really small loud one from REI, super cheap. I doubt I’d be motivated enough to carry something bulkier like a personal alarm on a regular basis, but if enough people get robbed at 730p when I’m out, I may have a change of heart about that.

      1. Rest assured that if your whistle is heard in our household assistance will be forthcoming. Screaming FIRE! will motivate others more effectively than Help!

        Pepper spray can be an effective deterrent.

        I would suggest that you create an ICE (In case of emergency) speed dial on your phone for Decatur Police, 404-373-6551.. Also, set your iPhone to video before your run. A quick swipe will open the feature. Record suspicious behavior.

        And everyone, if you have not done so on your iPhones, set the 4-digit Passcode that forces “slide to unlock”.

        1. I have a pepper spray gun that looks like a real gun at a glance. Also shines a blinding light when the trigger is touched.

  22. In less frightening, but related, news:

    It seems that with Friday night being Armed Robbery For iPhones Night among the motherless vermin set, Saturday night is perfect for Stealing Catalytic Converters from CRVs.

    As of 8:30 a.m., the responding officer told me DPD had three reports thereof.

  23. At what point does the police chief get fired? Have they caught anyone except the 15 year old who turned his stolen car over because he was chased by, not police, but county employees? There’s 4 squre miles to protect here! Why would you not have a police presence at a big sporting event? Doing neighborhood meetings to tell people to watch out for themselves is reactive and not preventative.

    1. Please re read your post and think about how ridiculous it is to suggest that the police chief should be fired. Police can’t be everywhere. It’s not like they are just sitting around doing nothing.

      1. I just drove by the book festival with police sitting in chairs. We need bike police or a police force that will say you can’t do this in Decatur. Period.

        1. And if an incident happened at the Book Festival and the police weren’t there you’d wonder where they were.

          Blaming these incidents on the police is, I’ll say it again, completely ridiculous.

          1. The DPD needs to step up its game. Armed robbery isn’t petty.

            And it doesn’t matter if it used to be worse. What matters is this happens now and that some of this is almost certainly preventable.

            Minimally, the DPD should be communicating better with us residents over what they are doing about this and over what residents can do to help put an end to it.

          2. I don’t think it is inappropriate to question the police leadership when their current tactics not only aren’t working, but are so ineffective at deterring criminals that the types of crimes are escalating to extremely dangerous situations. The police aren’t to blame for these crimes, but they are to blame for not only their response to the past crimes, but their preparation for future ones. I agree that it is a little premature to talk about firing any of our law enforcement personnel. Although Andy Griffin was a great fit in Mayberry, I sure as hell wouldn’t want him in an urban area. If things don’t drastically improve soon, we may need to think about hiring someone with a different approach to these crimes.

            1. Oh, HELL NO! DawgFan, don’t you dare be falling in with the pitchforks crowd! (Seriously, is that the kind of company you want to be keeping?!) Many of the crimes over recent months are being committed by the same group of kids. The MAIN PROBLEM is that as fast as local law enforcement catches them, they’re right back out on the streets. The failing is in the courts system. The crimes did stop for awhile and, beginning with the N Superior burglary, it looks to be the exact same kids gearing back up. Mike Booker and the DPD’s hard at work on it with efforts being closely coordinated with the DeKalb and ATL police depts, but until the courts stop treating the hard core repeat teen offenders as kids who’ve just strayed a bit and need a little tlc redirecting to get back on track, our communities are going to continue to pay the price of the court’s criminal catch-and-release program. Actually, that’s something that residents can tackle– according to the DPD, sentencing for teen offenders just isn’t there. We can and should see to making it a priority for our elected officials to address getting crime appropriate punishments– with sentences for repeat offenders– on the books.

              1. I defer to law enforcement science on what works with violent youth crime. But I would think that we ought to have a three-prong approach:
                – Major, major, major messaging with local schools, gangs, family services, plus wherever else necessary, that police and courts are serious about violent crime–if you are caught with a weapon, you are in so much more trouble than if you are caught at same crime without one. The messaging has to be omnipresent–social media, traditional media, billboards, flyers, whatever works.
                – First offender minors get mandatory major intervention–I leave it to the specialists what that is. Part of intervention is the clear message that law enforcement and courts will crack down on repeat offenders in major way, even if they are minors. Repeat=second time.
                – Repeat violent offenders over a certain age (I leave that age to the experts–14? 13? 12?) are put away in appropriate facility for appropriately long time (I leave details to the experts.)

                1. I think it’s reasonable to sentence repeat juvenile violent offenders to sentences that are more like what adults receive, especially if a gun is involved. This would be a lot easier to do if we stopped locking up people for drug offenses.

                  1. +1 or 2 million for that one.

                    Someone stoned @home is no threat compared with that someone with a gun in your face.

              2. I am not joining the pitchforks crowd. But, let me ask you a question. As the systemic failure of the justice system currently is a given, couldn’t DPD (and its residents) create an environment that deters criminals instead of inviting them? Clearly these thugs think that CoD is easy-pickins, and I want that perception to change. The DPD plays a large role in that.

                And I am all for making drastic changes to the juvenile criminal justice system. These crimes are punishable by 10 to 20 yrs if commited by someone a couple years or a couple of months older. I firmly believe that if enough of their peers will end up spending a couple of decades behind bars, the little bit of money they will receive for the iPhone will no longer seem worth it to both current and future criminals.

                1. I’m willing to consider increasing the size of the police force, even if it means higher taxes. More police officers are probably the best way to deter crime in Decatur, at least in certain areas, like downtown. Changes to the justice system are unlikely and out of Decatur’s control anyway.

                  1. “Changes to the justice system are unlikely and out of Decatur’s control anyway.”

                    brianc, I don’t agree. Surely the justice system also wants to see changes now that they’re no longer dealing with juvenile delinquents, but flat out criminals. I’d also think that the City would want to be part of the solution, and could easily arrange for a town hall meeting with our elected officials in all branches of government to discuss how to go about seeking the needed changes. Most of our representatives really do want to do right by us, and it’s up to us to reach out to them when there’s something big that requires their help to accomplish.

                    1. I may be being presumptuous in saying that changes to the juvenile justice system are unlikely, but they certainly would take time-probably years-to be implemented and have an influence.
                      Moreover, at least in the case of these three robberies, we only have the possibility that the suspects might be juveniles. I saw age estimates between 16 and early 20s. In Georgia, I believe 17 is a legal adult for purposes of criminal justice.

                2. DawgFan, we all – DPD, residents, businesses, CSD, and City– need to step up and do our parts to thwart the criminals who’ve targeted us– and it needs to be made an everyday, not just when a crime wave hits, thing. (For the sake of “we’re all in this together,” I’ve put DPD on the list, but there’s no question to me that DPD’s doing everything humanly possible already).

                  I’ll speak to two, then let somebody else weigh in:

                  DPD’s ON IT, and unless they’re approved to add more officers, it’s not clear to me what folks think needs switching up. The command staff’s the best qualified to determine how officers are deployed. (And before people start bitching again about tickets, traffic stops aren’t just a revenue source. It’s part of the DPD’s duties, stops are done with reason, and often end up leading to the arrest of folks who’ve already broken or are bent on breaking the law.) DPD’s not going to start randomly stopping folks without cause– it’s not legal. They’re already going the extra mile with community outreach. Almost every resident has now had the opportunity to attend a meeting to hear directly from Mike Booker and the DPD on the recent crimes and what’s being done to stop it, and Sgt Ross is doing an excellent job of keeping the Watch groups and local blogs informed (although not all blogs are posting all updates *cough*) As far as the Andy comment, I’ll take Mike Booker’s and Andy Taylor’s quiet badass with a heart leadership to that of a showy chest thumper any day.

                  What can residents do better? We can actively make it a pain in the @ss for the criminals to come here to commit their crimes. Call in any suspicious activity. Follow the DPD’s crime prevention tips. Neighborhood Watches are very effective– and once your neighborhood can demonstrate good participation, Neighborhood Watch signs will be installed. Also do the unconventional things: Slap up the Wanted posters on telephone poles; post any footage online; tweet, post blog announcements– do whatever you can to get word out to that we’re not playing when it comes to fighting back. Do as much as you can– it all matters!

        2. Those officers at the Book Fest were assigned to the Book Fest and working overtime, paid by the Book Fest, outside their normal shift. There was a full shift of officers on duty for the remainder of the city. And, BTW, some of the Book Fest officers were using bikes from time to time, but, for obvious safety reasons, were not using them in the festival area.

  24. He is the leader of the organization that is failing to address the problem, so why shouldn’t his job be questioned? I’m sure the police want the crime to stop, but what they are doing isn’t working. When 3 robberies occur within 1.5 hours near the city center, where are the cops? If you can’t be everywhere, where are the force multipliers like cameras? Why not use plAinclothed officers and set up stings? How about stopping groups of teens out late and ask them some questions? There was an ATM robbery in my neighborhood a while back, and the next few weeks, officers were there in uniforms and marked cars. Obviously, that was only effective if the cops are there, and the criminals will just go somewhere else. Why not put cameras around all the ATMs in the city and have one person monitor them all at once? It seems as if the DpD methods are antiquated, but admittedly I don’t know. I do know they don’t work, and it seems to be attracting even more crime.

    . Criminals are dumb and teen criminals are especially careless. They brag about crimes and post photos on social media. These arent masterminds here. If you don’t have any success against these perps then your competence must be questioned
    I

  25. It’s time for the city to take this s#%t seriously. Our kids can’t walk home after a football game on a Friday night, so sad. The city needs to get serious and put some policies in place to make it known to perps that you can’t do this crap in Decatur. I want more cops, on bikes and on foot. Patrolling the streets. I want cameras downtown. I want scumbags to know that Decatur is not where you go to steal. Decatur, stoping being reactive, and start being proactive.
    And I don’t want to hear form the apologist how safe the City is and how awsome our cops are. It ain’t working guys.

    1. That’s right. I want check points. I want boots on the ground. I want random stops. I want stop and frisk. I want a cop on every corner. I want finger printing, I want DNA checks, I want face recognition software, I want background checks on people attending the game.

      I for one, would like everyone to be reasonably vigilant, but not fearful. I would like everyone to take reasonable steps but not to radically alter one’s life. I would like neighbors to keep an eye out, and I would like a reasonable police presence, but one that balanced a feeling safety with a feeling of being on lockdown.

      So, let’s all get our panties unbunched and act like the calm adults that we all know that we can be.

  26. IMO the problem is not with the Chief or the police force, it seems like a great group. But they seem undermanned recently, and any additional officers, or technology solutions like cameras with video monitoring, will take money, requiring either more revenue or diverting funding from other city programs.

    1. In my 20+ years in Decatur, the size of the City administration has greatly increased. We have more employees handling festivals, recreation, special events, visitor relations, marketing and development, etc, than ever before.

      Maybe some of those resources should have been put into a larger police force and law enforcement related equipment instead ?

      1. Check your numbers. The total City staff has not increased significantly. Remember that many of the various festival folks, including such things as police officers, are paid by the festivals themselves. The City has added a special events coordinator in recent years and the new volunteer coordinator is paid by the hotel/motel tax. And, some of the people involved are fully or partially employed by the Development Authority, which is separately fund by a separate tax.

        1. Tax revenue funding DDA may not be in same budget as police but is still resident tax money being put to City related expenses, isn’t it ?

          All administrative costs involved with the arts festival are fully funded by festival revenue? Really, including city benefits for the full time employees involved ?

          Hotel motel tax could be changed to fund police if that is the will of the voters , right? We aren’t anywhere near this yet but hypothetically – visitors center director and special events people aren’t much use if downtown area becomes less desirable because of crime.

          Not saying it is time to do it right now but if necessary in the future, Decatur could think about shifting priorities to find funding for additional law enforcement from existing available funds.

          1. DDA and hotel/motel taxes fund specific items designated by the state enabling legislation, not local choice. I can only think of perhaps 2 or 3 City employees that are directly involved in the festivals and are not paid by the festivals and they have other duties besides those. BTW, have you expressed your concerns to your City Commissioners? They are the ones ultimately responsible for the budget and its allocations.

    2. Maybe I just don’t pay that much attention, but I don’t notice that many police around, especially on foot or on bike.
      I know the comparison is a bit silly considering the size difference, but whenever I’m in New York I notice so many police around compared to here.

      1. You or somebody else has brought this up before and my response then and now is that you’re just not paying attention. They are on foot and bikes primarily in downtown area and the officers in the patrol cars, as was pointed out by Sgt Ross a few weeks ago, have the prerogative to and do park and walk in the neighborhoods.

  27. Nice stawman. No one is blaming police for crime. I am suggesting their methods are ineffective, and perhaps it’s time to change the approach or get someone else.

  28. IMHO, blaming will not solve the problem whether we blame the police, parents, phone-toting kids, society, elitism, guns, lack of guns, money, lack of money, etc. Probably everyone has to improve a bit and we definitely have to work together. We don’t have to pin down the causes of this crime wave/spree/cluster exactly to do worthwhile things like talk to our kids about safety, keep expensive privately-owned gadgets at home, have the schools pay more attention to in-school theft, get parents to pay more attention to where their kids are and how they are getting there, strengthen police presence when preteens and teens will be walking around town after school or after school events, all of us keep stuff locked better, all of us keep an eye out for suspicious activity, all of us report all crime, even petty theft.

      1. Sure, of course, but most of them are not under our control, right? Other than a local kid (from private school) over in the NW stealing from unlocked cars, I don’t think most of this particular crime cluster has been traced to local folks. We have little or no control over the perpetrators but we can try to keep ourselves safer and probably all of us could do a little better.

  29. Doesn’t the high school have a security camera system? I seem to remember it was given to them for free as a demonstration project. I know it is probably not that good at night, but possibly it could be examined for match ups.

  30. As someone who has lived here his entire life I can tell you that crime and gang activity was much worse in the 80s and 90s. DHS football games – especially against Crim and Grady – were staffed by almost the entire police force.

    And guess what? People still moved HERE.

    Our community is not immune to crime. We just have to be smart, pay attention, and be vigilant. Decatur is a great place to live. There is no reason to move.

    1. +1
      But, if people are threatening to move, maybe it’s just not the right place for them. Given the housing market in COD there will be a long line of people waiting for each house.

      1. yeah, i hear the atlanta suburbs are dying for new residents. of course you can’t walk to football games there either. but it’s because hiking 5 miles with no sidewalks is way too tiring and dangerous. your cellphones will be safe though.

    2. Was crime really that bad in the 90s? I was here and don’t remember armed robberies of people walking around town. What I remember was more like old-fashioned rumbles at the high school, but I didn’t have kids there then so maybe I just didn’t hear about things. I do remember Downtown being a lot more deserted and bleak at night so you felt real isolated and kind of like a target if you walked around alone. It’s kind of shocking that we now feel so vibrant and busy but armed robberies are happening in the middle of it.

      1. “I was here and don’t remember armed robberies of people walking around town.”
        It could be because we don’t have the level of information we have now.

        1. True, although I did have elderly neighbors who seemed to have daily conversations with the then Police Chief and then would corner me in the driveway to tell me all about it. 🙂 I was and am a faithful reader of the AJC but maybe so much crime happened in Decatur then that it wasn’t newsworthy. And there WAS a huge difference in the northside vs. southside in terms of housing and income then so it makes sense that there was a crime on the southside that I wasn’t aware of. Real estate agents totally steered me to the northside as a single woman.

          So was our period of low crime and Mayberry/Berkeley walk/rollability just luck? A delusion of entitled folks who felt that they paid good money for an expensive house and deserved a safe, cute neighborhood to go with it? Or is this crime cluster the anomaly?

          1. AJC has never reported the smaller crime stuff, at least until the targeted population starts making a stink, ie GA Tech Students, Buckhead neighborhood group, and now, Decatur residents. I’ve said it before, but AJC is a paper that buried someone getting shot INSIDE the bar at Rosa Mexicana during its first year in a little paragraph in the middle of the B section. AJC is definitely not an accurate barometer of crime in Atl/Metro.
            While sources like DM may ramp up awareness and fear, I’m very thankful for the information, while trying to keep mindful of the stats vs prior years- not astoundingly off.

          2. I lived on the south side in the 90s (still do) and I do remember a period of violent crimes. Young women seemed to be the targets. I believe in at least one of the incidents an Agnes Scott student was attacked.

        2. ” “I was here and don’t remember armed robberies of people walking around town.”
          “It could be because we don’t have the level of information we have now. ”

          Or it could be because there a lot more people walking around town now with something to rob. It also could be because there is a shift in the types of crime being committed. The street-level drug trade ain’t what it used to be. Newer cars are much harder to steal because of improved security. Stores are harder to rob. Home burglaries are less profitable.
          As the famous crook replied when asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” That’s still true, but they’re much harder to rob now, so the crooks turn to the easier pickings: distracted people and their smartphones.

    3. I agree with Bulldog. I remember moving into Oakhurst and being the first on our street to take the bars off our windows – this was in ’99.
      We were quick to call the police about anything unusual, and always used a house alarm.
      There were places we didn’t walk at night, and yet we chose to stay here and am sooo glad we did.
      Things ARE much better than they used to be, and the police are a great reason to live here.
      We choose to live in-town Atlanta, so crime is part is the equation.
      Decatur is an oasis for a lot of what ails Atlanta, but we (as of yet) don’t have a moat to keep all the problems out.
      That said – this sucks! We need to adapt and react to the new threat appropriately. If moving out is your reaction, good luck with that. We’ll stay, and try to make our city even better.

    4. I agree that Decatur as a whole has gotten better and we should appreciate what we have, all the while keeping safe. But there does seem to be some crime phenomenon going on right now that is different from the recent past. Whether it is a fluke or not, addressable or not, I don’t know. Given my blog name, I’m not leaving but some might. Housing cycles. At some point, folks may feel that the top of the Decatur market is no longer worth it given that the schools are getting full and the area isn’t as safe as it used to be.

      1. For better or worse, I think Decatur’s crossed the threshold where folks are becoming more likely to opt for ponying up for more police than they are to move. If the choice is to move, the question becomes where and, for folks who really like what Decatur has to offer, there’s not a whole lot of places that fit the bill. And the ones that do tend to suffer from comparable challenges.

        1. Well maybe that’s part of the solution–put more resources into the police dept. What would that mean? Higher taxes? Less spent on something else? What can be cut? Certainly not the budget for the growing school system.

          But don’t we have to understand better WHY this is happening and why NOW? We had the same size police force two years ago and this place felt like Mayberry, not so edgy. Will an expanded police force alone take care of the problem? And will an expanded police force let us go back to free ranging our children? Or were we in an unrealistic bubble that had to burst?

          1. All good questions. All I know is that, in the wake of the recent robberies, DPD’s units on patrol at any given time, which is normally four, jumped to (I heard) 14. That’s pretty massive and certainly not something the city’s existing bottom line can absorb indefinitely. If cries for “more cops on the street” continue and get louder, the money will have to come from somewhere.

            Wish I had an easy answer.

          2. “Higher taxes? Less spent on something else? What can be cut? Certainly not the budget for the growing school system.”
            It has to come from somewhere and not the school system, which is a totally separate entity, budget-wise, although CSD does transfer money to COD for the resource officers. I also believe that COD is managed very well in the fiscal area and one would be hard pressed to find any areas to significantly cut.

          3. why? i’m sure there are many reasons and factors and depending on what brand of sociology you subscribe to, many ways of looking at the issue. but if anyone thinks you can set up an oasis of wealth right next to a poor population neglected by years of recession-caused cuts to social programs and not have a little have-nots on haves crime, they live in a dream world.

            in the immortal words of most def:
            ‘Like, come on now ock, what you expect?
            Got a month’s paycheck danglin’ off your neck”

            or in your pocket, in this case.

            1. ant, there’s truth in what you say, but I think the issue is that many people feel, not without justification, that the recent spate of robberies is more than a “little” crime.

              I’ll agree to disagree with you about the social services thing.

              1. there’s many ways to describe, for sure, but we’re talking about a few armed robberies here. to the people with a gun to their back, it’s a big deal. but compared to some of the things people not 10 miles from decatur have to live through, i think describing it as a little crime is very fitting.

                not sure what you’re disagreeing with me on the social services thing though.

                1. adding, i’m not by any means saying we should accept it and not do anything about it. it is a serious problem and we should try and remedy the situation. i just have no expectation that given the massive wealth gradient we’ll ever eliminate the problem.

    5. At that time, there was no DM, neighborhood yahoo groups or other social media. Word didn’t travel as fast. Perceptions about crime didn’t form/change as quickly as today.

      I haven’t seen any historical data to compare it to the present, but I do remember in the 80s/early 90s, stores along Ponce being robbed at gunpoint – in some cases in the middle of the day. Car break ins and house break ins weren’t that unusual. There were crack houses and other drug related activities in Oakhurst . There were robberies of pedestrians in the downtown area. There were many more suspicious people going door to door asking for handouts or to do yard work. In the 80s/early 90s, I think it was generally considered unwise to walk around downtown after dark .

      What worries me about the current situation are the descriptions of the perpetrators – so young. I don’t want to be robbed at gun point by anyone but I’d least like to face a teenager with a gun. They are out for a lark or to prove themselves in a gang hierarchy. I doubt they fully comprehend the consequence of pulling the trigger.

      1. The young teen factor frightens me too. They can be easily influenced, are not long-range thinkers, haven’t developed a lot of judgement or experience, and are unstable under stress. I know there’s plenty of exceptions to that generalization but those aren’t the kids holding the guns.

        1. I think it’s fair to say that anyone robbing people for iPhones is not a long-range thinker and suffers from poor judgment.

          1. Agree. I’m just thinking a highly dangerous situation is even more volatile if it involves a jumpy, impulsive, scared, inexperienced 15 year old holding a gun more because of peer pressure than because he actually wants to hold a gun, and now the peers are saying “Shoot”. But there’s a downside to cold, calculating criminals who attack with malice too.

            Part of the horror of 15 year olds holding up someone with a gun is that they are still children and we all hope and want the best for children. If this was really Mayberry, Aunt Bea would come out and say “Oh for goodness sakes, put down that gun, young man, You don’t want to be doing that.” But this kind of child can kill, either accidentally or out of fear or impulsivity or maybe sometimes out of malice.

      2. Don’t recall those problems in the 80s and 90s, not downtown or in my neighborhood, but we are north of downtown. This current situation seems much worse. Agree with AHID about the trouble at sporting events at that time.

  31. First, these kids need to be caught and punished. I’m all for parents starting their own patrols around DHS during and after a game. Cops can’t be everywhere, but parents could help. I wonder if other kids were asked for the time and when they looked at their $25 wristwatch were left alone? And since some of these are on school grounds and they all started on school grounds how about some cops stationed in the parking lot, on that lonely road that connects the parking lots, on North McD? Just walking around the stadium is not enough, obviously. I know Agnes Scott officers help out with security already, what about asking them to have a car (with lights on and an officer) posed on McD during and after the game? When just a couple or 3 criminals threaten pairs and groups of friends, it is out of control!

    1. I’m for parent patrols. Why not? If there’s no perps about, it would at least increase community.

      Re wristwatches: Is there a teen or preteen wearing one anymore? My guess is that other kids WERE approached but just said “I dunno” and walked on, either because they really didn’t know or because they had the good sense to say that. I can tell you that kids all over Decatur right now are being schooled to not answer requests for the time.

      1. No way to wrist watches. My dad tried for two months to give his watch to my nephews, and they wouldn’t take it. They had “phones” that told them the time. It’s a sign of their times…

      2. I’m so thankful at this moment that my 14-year old not only wears a wrist watch every single day, but carries a super old crappy phone.

  32. Why cant a deal be worked out between Decatur and DeKalb to layer police services? Add the City of Decatur to DeKalb Police patrol beats and overlap the DeKalb Recorders Court jurisdiction so DeKalb cops can use their court and public safety ordinances while inside of Decatur. It seems like a very easy and no cost way to add a layer of police.

    1. The DeKalb County Police Department doesn’t have the resources to cooperate that way. I did a daytime ridealong in a DeKalb patrol car about five years ago when DeKalb revenues were higher, and you would not believe how few cars the county had out in each quadrant.

      1. Decatur has one patrol district for each city quadrant, about 1 square mile. DeKalb sometimes covers at least 5 times that much. They regularly get backed up on calls and have to reassign or just wait. (try listening to their scanner traffic sometime). Decatur is seldom backed up, witness the fact that there is generally more than one unit responding and response time for urgent calls is typically 2 to 4 minutes.
        Folks who want to move to escape crime-ridden Decatur should think about that.

        1. Not related to Decatur specifically, but my wife and I have heard a lot of talk from colleagues wanting to move out of metro Atlanta and Georgia, period. It seems there’s a sense the area in general has been in steady decline for about a decade (with Decatur one of the few exceptions). Of course, this isn’t an option for a lot of people.

          1. I’ve got a sense of that, too.

            IMHO, all these years of hard-core republican rule have sorta taken the shine off of the possibilities that Atlanta & Georgia once had.

            1. Not gonna go there, except to say that in most measures of q.o.l Georgia either remains near the bottom or has fallen further behind. Besides, I have both conservative and liberal acquaintances who have talked of moving, with South Carolina mentioned a lot by the former and Colorado by the latter.

      2. FM is right. I lived in Brookhaven for 8-9 years. Routinely listened to the police scanner. The coverage areas in Dekalb (per beat officer) are a lot larger, and the response times are WAY longer than in Decatur (spouse listens to Decatur dispatch all day while working from home – her version of muzak). In Dekalb, it was not uncommon for me to hear dispatch ask for status updates 20+ minutes later and an officer STILL had not responded to a call, and nobody was yet dispatched from a nearby beat to cover it.

        While most of this thread is focusing on complaints on the pro-active/planning side of DPD, on the “reaction” side, DPD’s typical response time is excellent by metro-Atlanta standards.

        1. “DPD’s typical response time is excellent by metro-Atlanta standards.”

          Well, Decatur is a pretty small area to have to cover, and I’m guessing they have far fewer idiotic domestic disturbance calls to deal with than much of DeKalb PD does (though that may be no more than a snobbish assumption). The question for me is whether or not there is enough visible police presence to serve as a deterrent to crime. I don’t know the answer to that.

          1. I have done ridealongs with both DeKalb and Decatur officers. With all due respect to the fine Decatur officers, DeKalb South is a whole different animal.

  33. I think it is time to be realistic about our situation. Enough of the comments like – “if you are thinking about moving maybe Decatur isn’t right for you” or “I hope we find the kids that are doing this and get them the help they need”.

    All our crunchy liberal feel good stuff is great, but we have to face the reality that it is no longer safe for our kids to walk to and from school or to the parks. This is way beyond an older kid stealing a younger kids skateboard. Only a matter of time before someone pulls the trigger and there are serious injuries or worse.

    I believe the police account for about 25% of our budget. Lots of this is facilities, overhead etc. so doubling the force would not double cost. It is time to increase our the number of police on the ground – 2x? 3x? Wouldn’t we all feel safer? The only way to preserve the Mayberry/Berkeley feel that we all want for our kids is to do everything we can to make Decatur safe again.

    As far as comments on property values – if these type of crimes continue, say goodbye to increasing values and increasing funds to pay for our great schools.

    1. Agree that increasing the police force may be necessary so that we can remain the community we want to be. But most problems are not cut and dried and neither are solutions. Police alone cannot eliminate crime by themselves; that’s a lesson learned over and over in urban areas. There’s more 15 year olds who can turn to armed robbery than there are police. I lived in Los Angeles at a time when certain neighborhoods were crawling with police but you still didn’t dare drive in them. And the border areas were great for gentrification but you didn’t walk around them much. So yes, we need our police in a big way. But we also need to understand why there’s a cluster of serious crimes right now. Why now and not two years ago? I’m sure the police are trying to understand it. Maybe it’s as “simple” as increased gang activity. Maybe it’s a perfect storm of multiple factors. Different solutions for different causes.

      We need enough police to protect us from crime and to react when it happens. We also need neighborhood involvement and citizen watchfulness and reporting. We need our schools to get involved, especially if it’s true that there’s been an increase in theft there. Not only should students feel safe when walking to school, they should feel safe when there. And maybe some folks truly didn’t understand that they weren’t getting a piece of Alpharetta intown when they bought in Decatur, which has had lots of good hype. Maybe they would be more comfortable elsewhere. While I want to everyone to stay and feel at home here, our reputation did start to get to be a bit too good to be true.

      By the way, it’s taken me years to understand this, but I think the City depends more on business property values than it does on residential property values. Hence the term “revenue negative” or “revenue neutral” households for those of us homeowners with children. The City would survive if we all moved to Alpharetta and were replaced by yuppies or retirees without children. Not saying that would be a wise choice, but I’m not sure we can use property values as leverage. Our City seems more responsive to arguments related to Decatur’s strategic plan and goals.

    2. I agree with M1. 3 kids getting robbed at gunpoint within meters of school property?!!! This is the second time in a month that my husband has been within a block of an armed robbery at the time it occurred. Where is the Decatur leadership? I want a letter in my mailbox from the police chief that says (i) this crime will not be tolerated (ii) that a uniformed officer will be stationed at the MARTA station greeting arriving passengers and introducing himself/herself to all passengers between the ages of 15-25 (iii) that the major arteries into Decatur from the southside will be patrolled in cars often enough that it will be impossible to drive into Decatur without noticing a police presence (iv) that the police will be out in force at the next home football game, introducing themselves to residents and guests and that they invite the community to WALK to the game and home from the game in a show of solidarity that we live in a walkable town and we are not going to allow some juvenile delinquents to make us live in fear. DHS should discount the tickets so all can attend the game and DHS can make money by selling stickers and buttons that rally support for our walkable community. My husband and I walked (with iphones) from Twains to Pinewood on Friday night and our highschooler walked (with an iphone) to the book festival on Saturday and we are mad as hell that our police can’t control more of this gun crime by teenagers in a 4 square mile town. I live off Candler (near the daytime break-ins) and I never see police cruising around. Three of our children had guns put in their faces and we haven’t heard squat from our leadership except “we are close to making arrests”! They have been “close” for months!! I lived in a seedy part of downtown Atlanta for more than a decade before moving to Decatur and I felt safer.

  34. “And maybe some folks truly didn’t understand that they weren’t getting a piece of Alpharetta intown when they bought in Decatur, which has had lots of good hype.”

    I think there’s probably some truth to that. This is an urban area bordered by impoverished neighborhoods. There will always a higher level of crime than in exurban areas.

    1. I just love to hear someone on the news say “but, we moved out here to get away from what just happened here”. Crime is everywhere.

    2. I agree with your statement. But, (and I could be misreading your post) are you suggesting that they should just learn to live with these crimes as a “cost” of living intown? Or, are you suggesting they are overreacting? I don’t think this is about re-setting expectations, and I think alot of the responses are entirely appropriate. We need to stop these violent crimes.

      1. No, I don’t think there’s been an overreaction, not when it comes to kids getting robbed at gunpoint. People should be very upset.. But I do think there are some unrealistic expectations about just how much police can do about crime in this area, which is, after all, situated in a county that has serious resource problems, a high drop-out rate, and a high crime rate. I volunteer in a program that has a significant percentage of refugees participating, and many of them say they feel less safe here than in the countries they fled. Most live just a few miles from here.

        1. Just my opinion (and I not trying to convince you otherwise – we can agree to disagree), but I don’t think people have unrealistic expecatations about “crime” in the abstract. For the most part, people moving into town understand the risks. For example, if you don’t have your car locked up in a garage, it is more likely to get broken into. But, I don’t think anyone should expect home entries becoming commonplace and armed robberies against our kids, or at parks with families playing or on school grounds. People are rightfully afraid about their kids walking home from school. I think the appropriate expectation is that something will be quickly and decisively be done about these crimes.

    1. Interesting. Besides the fact that impressionable juveniles work for adult perpetrators avoiding prosecution, I was struck by the following:
      – Need for law enforcement to do “problem-solving” tailored to local realities and resources vs. a one dimensional approach
      – Evaluation that distinguished between the effect of the local interventions vs.nationwide trends in youth crime
      – Recognition that law enforcement pledges to eliminate all gangs are not credible but law enforcement can target those gangs with violent behavior.
      – Some gangs will “behave” if clear rules are set and violations are met with swift, severe crackdowns.

      Now no officials or experts have determined that Decatur’s current violent crime cluster is gang-related. But it’s had that smell to me.

      1. I think “gang-related” implies some tightly structured group with “territory”, etc. I’d think it’s more likely that there are loosely organized robbery crews at work here. A few people have speculated that the phone robberies are initiations and not about the phones. I don’t think so, or at least it’s both initiation and about the phones. It’s gotten a lot harder to be a criminal (unless, perhaps, the criminal is a tech-savvy hacker), especially for the dumb ones, so armed robbery for something as petty as a phone is not that surprising.

        1. Comment about youths associating with adults is editorial, based on my experience and understanding of how crime syndicates function in greater Atlanta. Adults drop off kids who wreak havoc then are picked up by their handlers…this may have changed with the advent of public transportation, but that’s how it worked in the early 70s and I doubt human nature has changed very much since then.

          1. I think adolescents possessing handguns indicates they are interacting directly or indirectly with criminal adults, since kids can’t legally purchase handguns. The study cited implies that many handguns were newly acquired in the local market. There was even a preference for certain types of weapons. Bling factor. I would not doubt that these kids pass their weapons around among their crew.

            I am not in law enforcement. In essence, my thoughts reflect some idle speculation…

            1. “I think adolescents possessing handguns indicates they are interacting directly or indirectly with criminal adults, since kids can’t legally purchase handguns.”

              Yeah, but neither can criminal adults, presumably. And kids can certainly steal guns. In fact, isn’t that the number one target in burglaries, especially since most home electronic equipment has seen steep declines in resale value?
              Adults may indeed be behind these kids’ actions, but I wouldn’t infer that from their use of guns, which they can fairly easily acquire themselves.

              1. I wish I had the research to prove this but my guess is that adults (which counts 18-20 year olds even though I attended the DBF session that indicated that 18-29 year olds are only “emerging adults” these days) are behind most young teen (12-15 year old) violent crimes, at least initially. I just don’t think 15 year olds are recruiting 15 year olds.

                Whether it’s gang activity or less formal robbery rings, I’m convinced that we have to get the adults behind violent crimes before we’ll see a difference. They are probably harder to identify and pin something on but should be worth the effort. If they remain in the community, they’ll just recruit new teens to replace the ones that are caught.

  35. Is there a Metro area gang task force? Who leads it? What have they been doing? If there isn’t one, why not? What is the level of cooperation between Atlanta/Fulton/DeKalb/smaller cities like Decatur?

    1. I met someone from one around 5 years ago but don’t know if it still exists. My understanding is that an impediment to such a task force is that Atlanta wants to downplay its gang problem. That strategy may boomerang on us.

  36. If you move, you trade the problems you have for new ones. The police do need to get out of cars and on horses where then can move about the crowds.

  37. When someone walks down your street that you know is not from your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to call and report a “suspicious” person. Especially if they appear to be looking around at houses and cars, or are carrying a bag (often used to carry break-in tools or the stolen goods). If the bag is dark, it is even more of a red flag, as they often throw them into a bush and come back later to retrieve it so that they are not caught with the stolen goods.

    Criminals typically case a neighborhood before planning a crime. If they are rapidly confronted and questioned, maybe even frisked by a policeman upon entering an area, they may think twice about coming back to do the crime.

    I have lived in Oakhurst for a quarter of a century, and used to make “suspicious person” calls about twice a week to DPD. Looks like I’m going to resume that, and I encourage everyone else to as well.

    1. In light of your chosen screen name, would you agree that all responses to your posts should be in the form of a question?

  38. So my suggestion earlier was met with with coments about how busy the county police are and etc. My suggestion was not to replace the city police but as the military says “to force multiply” and for FREE…So I’ll ask again. Why cant a deal be worked out between Decatur and DeKalb to layer police services? Add the City of Decatur to DeKalb Police patrol beats and overlap the DeKalb Recorders Court jurisdiction so DeKalb cops can use their court and public safety ordinances while inside of Decatur.(It would be to encourage them to do some police work as they pass through) It seems like a very easy and no cost way to add a layer of police.

    1. Why not? Because they are two separate police departments with two separate jurisdictions supported by two different tax bases. In fact, one of the reasons the Oakhurst neighborhood is something of a crime magnet is because it’s incredibly easy to get out of the Decatur jurisdiction and into the DeKalb or particularly the APD (Kirkwood and East Lake) jurisdictions very quickly.
      How do you expect DeKalb officers to layer services with Decatur when they are stretched too far to handle their own territory? I had a break-in in July; I live in 30032, not City of Decatur. My front door was kicked in. A neighbor heard the commotion and called DeKalb Police. My alarm company called Dekalb police. I was in downtown Atlanta when I got the call and got to the house an hour before the DeKalb officer got there. They don’t have the resources to cooperate with the Decatur police any more than they already do. If you want service from the DeKalb County police, pay more taxes to DeKalb County.

      1. I agree with what you’re saying, except for the ‘two different tax bases’ part.

        CoD residents get the honor and privilege of paying both CoD taxes and DeKalb Co taxes.

        1. Yeah, but the county taxes you pay do not cover police services, except for a few things like K-9 and SWAT teams that Decatur has an agreement with DeKalb to provide.

            1. Hasn’t had one in quite a while. It’s a rather significant expense that would only be utilized occasionally and DeKalb is responsive with one of theirs when needed. Besides, there are different kinds of K-9s, drug, tracking, fire, etc.

              1. I don’t think it’s the expense. I think it’s just that all the Decatur K-9s are busy at the dog park or the dog spa.

          1. Anyone want to wager that because of CoD increased property values I’m paying as much or more to DeKalb as an unincorporated resident?

            1. Hard to say. DeKalb residents are paying the full boat for police, fire and recreation, not to mention solid waste, while COD has those things in their city taxes. Also, remember that DeKalb millage rate went up by somewhere around 20% a few years back.

            2. Could be. I have rental property ( a condo) in DeKalb that would have lower taxes than my DeKalb portion in Decatur if it were eligible for homestead exemption.

      2. I disagree. According to no less an authority than the United States Postal Service, they are joined together as one jurisdiction called “Decatur”, and have exactly the same level of taxation, government services, educational institutions, cultural and commercial attractions, and real estate values.

        It’s true, I read I’ve read it here in the comments section many times.

  39. I’m not sure I understand what Jo is proposing. Decatur extending their patrols into DeKalb beyond the city limits or is the reverse? If it’s the reverse, see FM Fats comment. DeKalb PD enforcing Decatur ordinances? I don’t believe either is legal.

  40. We found a dog on the side of the road in Decatur. Does anyone know where I can post his picture so we can try to find his owner?

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