By Scott Bernarde

scottbernarde@reporternewspapers.net

Crime has been on the minds of many Brookhaven residents and business owners.

So much so, in fact, that it was the main topic of conversation at two meetings held within two days of each other in late October.

The Brookhaven Chamblee Home Owners and Neighborhood Business Alliance has come to one conclusion: no matter what DeKalb Police assures residents, crime is the top concern. The alliance discussed the issue at its monthly meeting Oct. 20 at Donnie’s Country Cooking on Clairmont Road and again at a specially called public meeting with police Oct. 22 at St. Martin’s in the Fields Church on Ashford-Dunwoody Road.

“DeKalb Police told us that crime in DeKalb is decreasing, and particularly Brookhaven is lower than the rest of DeKalb, but our response is one crime is one more crime than we’d like to see,” said Alliance president Kevin Hughley. Statistics indicate that crime is down overall in DeKalb’s North Precinct, including Brookhaven, including nine percent fewer violent crimes and 18 percent fewer property crimes over 2008.

“We view crime in Brookhaven as the No. 1 issue in the community and it must be addressed where the community feels safe, and at this time, there is a feeling, particularly in the business community that policing is a step slower and the criminal is aware of this, so they can come in our community and target our seniors, our businesses and our home owners and that is not acceptable.”

Hughley addressed crime specifics at the monthly meeting on Oct. 20 (more Brookhaven crime reports can be found in the Police Blotter on pages 8 and 9):

? A customer was assaulted Oct. 2 by a homeless man at the Brookhaven McDonald’s for not giving the man any money.

? In late September, at the same McDonald’s, someone brought a gun inside and tried to hide it in the restroom.

? On Oct. 9, an elderly resident at Lenox Summit Apartments was robbed at gunpoint by two men while sitting at the bus stop at Cherokee Plaza, but did not file a police report.

? Bank locations at the Kroger in the Cambridge Shopping Center and the Publix on Ashford-Dunwoody were recently robbed.

? On Oct. 10, an attempted home invasion occurred at Peachtree Place Condominium in late afternoon.

The attempted home invasion prompted the Oct. 22 meeting, attended by around 30 residents and business owners and representatives from DeKalb Police, including North precinct commander Maj. Steve Waits, and the county’s district attorney’s office. Residents voiced their displeasure over police response time and asked for help in making the community safer. Business owners said they would like to see officers visit businesses more frequently to build closer relationships.

Police and Hughley agree that fighting crime is a two-way street.

“We believe crime is everyone’s business and once our citizenry becomes a partner with our police department it will lead to a safer community,” Hughley said.