As the battle heats up over the proposed Buckhead City, the Atlanta Police Department took to social media to defend itself.
“We don’t want to be dragged into the middle of a misinformation campaign,” APD said on Facebook Thursday night.
The post appeared to be a response to claims that cityhood leader Bill White made earlier in the week, although APD didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation.
On Wednesday, White sent out a statement saying that he heard Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens was lowering recruitment and hiring standards to meet his goal of hiring 250 police officers.
“This is a total disaster and could lead to unqualified officers on our streets and put good officers’ lives and the public’s lives at risk,” said White, chairman and CEO of the Buckhead Exploratory Committee. “Lowering hiring standards just to make headlines is disgraceful and not what Buckhead or the City of Atlanta needs right now to fight crime.”
But APD on Facebook said is not lowering standards for police officers and fully anticipates to meet Dickens’ hiring goal for 2022.
“We must stand up for our department and our troops and we must refute false claims and misinformation recently made … Our standards have been and will remain above those required by the state.”
When asked for comment to APD’s response, White shared an Instagram post with Reporter Newspapers.
“We love our police,” White said in the post. “But the police leaders must go. They spin for the Mayor … That’s how we know all these things … high ranking cops call me and tell me things daily.”
Crime has been central to the Buckhead City campaign, with White repeatedly saying that Buckhead residents are living in a “warzone.”
But this week, the new captain for Atlanta Police Zone 2, which covers Buckhead, told residents that overall serious crime was down in 2021. According to APD’s latest data through Dec. 25, Part 1 crimes in Zone 2 were down 6% from 2020 and 12% from 2019. Part 1 offenses include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
However, homicides and aggravated assaults were still up last year in Zone 2.
New public safety efforts are now in the works for Buckhead.
Mary Norwood, who returned to the Atlanta City Council this week, has proposed legislation to create a “Buckhead Public Safety Task Force.” If approved, the 18-member task force would come up with a plan to deter crime in Buckhead.
A new West Village police mini precinct is also planned for Buckhead, which would house traffic and bike units at Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads.
Other Buckhead cityhood updates
The discussion around whether or not Buckhead should form a new city will heat up next week as the Georgia General Assembly kicks off, where legislation will be considered that could carve a path for the deannexation.
Two state legislators against the effort, Rep. Betsy Holland (D-Atlanta) and Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), will hold a meeting on Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. Guests include White and former state Rep. Edward Lindsey with the Committee for a United Atlanta. Watch the meeting here.
“There’s no precedent for carving out a community from an existing city in Georgia,” said Rep. Holland. “We need this meeting to dig deeper into questions about how this proposal affects public schools, bond and pension obligations and future tax revenue.”
White has perhaps had a challenging week, as over the weekend, he caught heat for retweeting content from a white nationalist blog. That website, VDARE.com, came to White’s defense on Wednesday.
“First of all, there’s nothing wrong with either what we said, or Bill White retweeting it,” said VDARE in a Jan. 5 post. “And if people aren’t equating majority black cities with carnage and crime, they haven’t been paying attention, not only for the past two years, but ever.”
And White was the subject of a Friday column from AJC columnist Bill Torpy, who called him a “slick carnival barker.” Atlanta Intown editor Collin Kelley also weighed in on the Buckhead City plan, calling it “seriously flawed.”
The Buckhead Exploratory Committee is moving forward with fundraising efforts, with its next event set for Jan. 24 at Bistro Niko, part of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.
Update: This story was updated with additional comments from Bill White.