By Debra Bryant

You get a call at work from your alarm company, “Your home alarm has been activated.  Do you want us to send the police over to check it out?”  Halfway across town, panic sets in. You take a deep breath and say, “Yes!”

Sharath Mekala, creator of Village Defense, walked away from a similar experience that left him with a desire to live in a safe, strong community, and a desire to create an impact on crime.

A former Georgia Tech student and Georgia State University graduate, Mekala is accustomed to making an impact on communities. At a time when Georgia Tech offered very little food choices, Mekala operated a successful business offering international meal plans to students on campus. “I looked around and thought, how can I change this for the better?” he recalled.

Applying the same principle to the crime in his neighborhood, Mekala was elected vice chair of a citizen advisory council known as an NPU (neighborhood planning unit). In addition to making recommendations for community improvements, it was the beginning of an idea to develop a neighborhood watch that evolved into Village Defense.

Village Defense began in 2009 and combines modern technology with traditional awareness to help keep Atlanta neighborhoods and shopping centers safe. When someone witnesses a crime, they first call 911 and then place a call to the Village Defense hotline.

In a matter of seconds, Village Defense’s system sends out alerts to the entire community via landlines or cellphones, plus text messages and emails. Follow-up emails are sent to inform members when a situation has been stabilized or resolved. Village Defense also offers monthly crime reports and non-emergency information on community meetings and social gatherings.

Mekala said that many communities in Atlanta lack facilities or resources for organizing a neighborhood crime watch.
Sims Estates, a once struggling neighborhood in northwest Atlanta, has experienced a 73 percent reduction of crime due to the Village Defense real-time crime alert system.

Retail shopping centers can also utilize Village Defense’s real-time crime alert system. With one phone call, an alert can be sent to every store manager, employee, and security personnel on site.

Village Defense partners with businesses such as Crime Stoppers Atlanta and Grady Health System in an effort to make communities safer together. The service is currently active in twenty neighborhoods and seven shopping centers.

For more information and cost, visit VillageDefense.com or call (800) 757-9110.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.