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Brookhaven public safety concerns discussed
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
July 24, 2012 06:27 PM | 1591 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Proponents of Brookhaven incorporation and DeKalb law enforcement officials are at odds on the proposed city’s police service capabilities in comparison with the county’s.

BrookhavenYES has charged DeKalb with inflating its actual police numbers as part of what the former calls the latter’s anti-cityhood campaign. The grassroots group even went so far as to publish watch sheets, or officer schedules, from the North Precinct to back up its claims.

BrookhavenYES leaders said a citizen-elected city council would determine the initial size of the proposed city’s police force based on need and with direction from taxpayers. According to a feasibility study by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute, the city would need an estimated 53 police officers in a department with a recommended budget of roughly $5.6 million.

That would more than double current police protection in Brookhaven, J. Max Davis of Brookhaven YES said.

“The comparison will be like night and day,” Davis said. “We have hard working and dedicated officers in DeKalb County, but there are not enough of them assigned to Brookhaven.”

Davis blamed the “bloated bureaucracy” in county government for the perceived shortcomings.

DeKalb officials defended the county’s caliber of police service.

“Obviously for years we’ve been providing quality and professional public safety protection,” said DeKalb County Public Safety Director William Miller. “We believe we provide a very thorough, comprehensive response to all requests for emergency service.”

DeKalb County’s assertion that DeKalb has 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents — giving Brookhaven a police force of 83 officers — is not accurate, according to a BrookhavenYES report.

The group cites the watch sheet and information — namely that 60 sworn officers are assigned to patrol the entire area — disclosed by a North Precinct captain during a Citizens’ Police Academy appearance to back up its argument.

According to a BrookhavenYes report, only 25 DeKalb County police officers are presently allocated to Brookhaven, equating to only 0.5 officers per 1,000 residents there. The aforementioned watch sheets reveal that 49,000 residents, spread throughout 12 square miles, of the proposed city have had no more than three to five officers patrolling that area and answering 911 calls on many occasions.

Miller refuted the group’s case.

“A single watch list does not accurately reflect what DeKalb County puts out,” Miller said. “It may show uniform officers that walk into the precinct at role call … but, there are officers coming from other divisions that supplement that [coverage].”
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