Saying crimes against people were up by two-thirds in Dunwoody, the city’s police chief is asking for three more officers and one more detective in 2016.
“Compared to some of our neighboring cities, our [major] crime rate is unacceptably high,” police Chief Billy Grogan wrote in a memo to City Council.
Grogan said his 51-officer department is “woefully understaffed.” He is seeking a 10 percent increase in the department’s budget, to $8.2 million from $7.4 million to add the four new officers.
The chief said he wants to add patrol officers to increase visibility in the community and add a detective to help with the heavy investigative workload.
In the memo, Grogan said that reports of all serious crimes — murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, larceny and motor vehicle theft — are down 5.2 percent through June, but were up 19 percent in 2014. But, he said, crimes against people were up by 85 percent through June.
In an email on Sept. 16, Grogan said that through August, the department had recorded 63 crimes against persons, up from 38 in 2014. That represents a 66 percent increase.
“Unfortunately, the heavy workload of our officers leaves little time for proactive policing and greatly diminishes our visibility in the community,” Grogan wrote.
Grogan’s request is part of a $24 million budget proposal Mayor Mike Davis and City Manager Eric Linton have submitted to the City Council for 2016.
The proposed budget includes a 41 percent increase, to $2.3 million from $1.6 million in parks funding, and a 107 percent increase in funding for 911 services. The amount paid to the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority would rise to $151,640 from $73,300.
Parks Director Brent Walker said the increase in his department’s budget would pay for new parks, new amenities in existing parks and more multi-use trails. The hike in 911 fees is to cover revenue loses, Linton said. “We believe this is primarily due to a reduction in residential telephone landline use as consumers choose to use a cellphone as their primary phone versus having a home landline and a cellphone, which reduces overall E-911 fund amounts,” Linton said. “To make up for a reduction in E-911 fund amounts, the city will need to increase allocated contributions.”
The proposed budget predicts city revenues of $24 million in 2016, which includes a 39 percent jump in revenues from licenses and fees. Linton said the change comes from projected increases in fees related to construction.
Under the budget proposal, more than $4.5 million will go toward paving and intersection and sidewalk improvements, and $1.6 million will help pay debt associated with Project Renaissance land purchases. An additional $2.3 million in General Fund transfers and $5 million in Homestead Option Sales Tax fund transfers to the city’s Capital Projects program will allow development of critical city assets, infrastructure projects and public safety enhancements, Davis and Linton wrote in their budget memorandum.
The budget keeps the tax millage at 2.74. A homeowners’ property taxes are computed by multiplying the tax value of a property by the millage.
“This cautious planning affords the city the opportunity to maintain our original 2.74 millage rate while also aligning expectations for modest revenues from property taxes and new building permit collections,” Davis and Linton wrote.
Grogan’s memo included a chart showing Dunwoody police had 1.07 officers per 1,000 city residents.
Other metro Atlanta cities posted larger numbers, including Sandy Springs, which had 1.27 officers per 1,000 residents, the chart said. Of the 11 cities surveyed, only Johns Creek posted fewer officers per 1,000 residents, with 0.8.
Dunwoody also showed one of the highest crime rates among the 12 cities, surveyed for the chart. Dunwoody showed a rate of 47.5 crimes per 1,000 residents.
Only two others of the cities surveyed showed higher rates – Douglasville had a rate of 70.6 crimes per 1,000 people and Marietta had a rate of 49.2 crime per 1,000.
Johns Creek posted the lowest crime rate among the cities, with 7.8 crimes per 1,000 people, according to the chart.
“Although Dunwoody is a safe community, we have our share of crime …,” Grogan said in his memo.
“Although the department has done an outstanding job addressing our crime issues, demonstrating transparency and maintaining a positive relationship with our community, we are still challenged with our staffing and police visibility.
“In fact, the workload of our patrol officers continues to rise as new businesses and residents move to Dunwoody. … Through June of 2015, our calls for service are up 11.6 percent.”