Reports of violent crimes in one of Buckhead’s crime hot spots were up in 2012, but Atlanta police say the higher numbers are the result of more crimes being reported by Hispanic residents.
The police beat surrounding the Lindbergh/Morosgo area generated more reports of violent crime in 2012 than any other beat in Buckhead, data show. Buckhead is located within Atlanta Police Zone 2, one of six zones in the city of Atlanta.
Maj. Van Hobbs, the Zone 2 commander, said many Hispanic residents living in the Lindbergh/Morosgo neighborhood have in the past been reluctant to report crimes to police. Hobbs said the APD has worked to assure residents that police officers are there to protect them, not check their immigration status.
“We’re reaching out to that community and saying, ‘Hey, if there’s a crime, if there’s an issue, if there’s a problem, we need to know about it because we’ll be here to help you,’” Hobbs said.
Under Georgia law, police have the option to investigate someone’s immigration status. Hobbs said officers won’t check someone’s immigration status unless they have a reason to suspect that a person is living in the U.S. illegally.
According to 2010 U.S. Census Data, 16 percent of the population within the 30324 ZIP code, which includes the Lindbergh/Morosgo area, identifies as Hispanic.
Zone 2 is divided into 13 distinct police beats. The police beat encompassing Lindbergh/Morosgo, Beat 211, includes the neighborhoods of Peachtree Park and Peachtree Hills. In 2012, Beat 211 residents reported 47 violent crimes to Atlanta Police, the most of any of the beats in Zone 2. Among the violent crimes reported, there were reports of one rape, 30 robberies and 16 aggravated assaults.
That number is up from 2011, when residents living in that beat reported 41 violent crimes, including four rapes.
Hobbs said he’s spent several Sunday afternoons doing community outreach, telling residents that traffic checkpoints aren’t a ruse to investigate stopped drivers’ immigration status.
“We started seeing some of them coming forward that we normally wouldn’t have in the past,” Hobbs said.
Attempts to reach out to groups advocating for Hispanic residents for comment were not successful prior to the Buckhead Reporter’s publication deadline.
In 2012, all crimes in Zone 2 rose by 8 percent over 2011 because of property crimes, specifically a 27 percent increase in thefts from autos. Zone 2 was the only zone in the city that reported an overall increase in crime for 2012.
Atlanta police annually release data about all Part 1 crimes, the most serious crimes. They are the offenses police are most likely to know about as they are the crimes most likely to be reported. Violent crimes included among Part 1 crimes are homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Buckhead had no homicides in 2012, and Zone 2 had the fewest violent crimes in the city.
Neighborhood representatives with Peachtree Park and Peachtree Hills said they were unaware that the beat around their communities dominated the violent crime reporting in 2012. They said their biggest problem is property crime.
Hans Bendeck, president of the Peachtree Hills Civic Association, said the neighborhood hires off-duty Atlanta police officers to patrol the neighborhood. Bendeck said residents in the neighborhood are encouraged to report anything they see.
“We believe the more you report crimes, the more coverage will happen,” Bendeck said. “We definitely ask our neighbors to report when anything happens like that.”