Police Chief Billy Grogan recently grabbed attention by saying his department was “woefully understaffed” to handle the recent rise in certain types of crimes in the city. Now candidates for City Council have joined the debate.
The Dunwoody Police Department publishes comparative stats monthly at its website. Through July, crime was down 7.9 percent overall, but crimes against persons were up 85 percent, Grogan said.
By August the department recorded 63 crimes against persons, Grogan said, representing a 66 percent increase of crimes against people. Residents can check crime numbers monthly at the police department’ website.
That percent represents a small number of crimes, though, City Councilman Terry Nall said. Nall said any incident of crime is unacceptable, but the sub-category of crime against persons represents just a sliver of crime in the city.
Nall said that because there are few such crimes reported, any year-over-year change in the number of incidents results in a large percentage jump up or down. “Facts show the vast majority of Dunwoody crime is larceny, which includes shoplifting in the Perimeter area,” he said.
But Becky Springer, who is challenging Nall for the District 1 seat on the council, said she wasn’t surprised to hear crime was up.
“I don’t need a police report to tell me that in the past four years, my church, my bank, my friends and my neighbors have all been robbed several times,” she said. “My neighborhood has cars broken into multiple times a year. So, when the police chief says that we are ‘woefully understaffed,’ my first question is why aren’t we filling these already available positions? Where is the management?”
Springer said she blames City Council and the police chief, who spent much of 2014 as acting city manager.
“The violent crime rate is up and what has our police chief been doing? He’s been acting as interim City Manager, filming award-winning videos, and writing and publishing his new book,” Springer said. “We need to be proactive, not reactive. The buck stops with the council; they are ultimately responsible for managing city employees.”
Crime statistics for eight months year-to-date through August reveal 1,354 incidents of property crime, eight reports of rape and 29 reports of armed robbery.
The high percentage increase in rape and armed robbery represents relatively low numbers. Dunwoody has not had a homicide in more than two years. Through August, Dunwoody’s overall crime is down more than 8 percent.
“I encourage everyone to evaluate crime claims with real numbers and not misleading percentages based on small numbers,” Nall said. “Dunwoody is a very safe city.”