Sandy Springs public safety agencies made several requests during a City Council budget workshop on May 3, including asking for money to replace aging vehicles.
It was the first of a series of meetings that are leading up to the city adopting its budget in late June.
Sandy Springs, like other cities, has felt the effects of the “Defund the police” movement, Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone said.
“Last year, like everywhere else in America, the ‘Defund the police’ experiment that was tried has been a complete failure. And we are now seeing the consequences. And unfortunately, we probably will be for the next several years,” he said.
The Sandy Springs Police Department (SSPD) wants to add another full-time victim advocate, DeSimone said. The department would have 186 employees with this addition, with 148 sworn officers.
“She’s the one that gets into these domestics and can help us reduce violent crimes, the majority against women,” he said.
That fits with one of the department’s goals, which is to reduce aggravated assaults and most of those come from domestic issues, he said. By getting to the home immediately after the first 911 call at that residence, you may be able to prevent an aggravated assault, he said.
“You may be able to prevent a murder because a lot of times it will escalate fast. So we want to get in at these domestic situations and try to defuse it before it goes any further,” DeSimone said.
The SSPD has met with success recruiting from Boston and New York City, places that have become so anti-police they are driving officers away, he said.
“I thank you all for supporting us because it is an arms race for police officers out there,” he said.
The fleet is a problem because they can’t get cars. The first car he drove when he started work with the city in January 2009 remains on the road with 100,000-plus miles.
“But we had no other choice because we cannot get cars. We’ve looked at everything and it’s just not us,” he said.
The police department’s fleet purchase request was just over $1.5 million.
Other budget requests included replacing aging SWAT equipment and supplies, upgrading CSI equipment to match improving technology and replacing a K9 – the dogs can work for nine years, DeSimone said.
Ballistic helmets that have reached their end of life will be replaced, and more Recon Scout Throwbots that are used in SWAT situations were requested, as were a new forensic workstation and Kustom Signals Speed Trailers to alert motorists of their speeds on city streets.
The Police Department’s short-range plans also include the build-out of police headquarters and the municipal court complex at the Morgan Falls Road site, which was listed as a $1.5 million capital expense – plus another $500,000 to get fiber optic cable extended to the building. DeSimone also wants a master plan for the public safety complex with the Fire Department.
Fire Department moving temporary station
Sandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders asked for $500,000 to move the temporary fire station buildings used while Station 2 was being rebuilt. The move would be to the Morgan Falls Road property to replace the existing Station 2. This will be necessary when the Pitts Road bridge is closed as its replacement is being built.
The Fire Department responded to 14,926 calls in 2021, with 5,020 of those as emergency medical services calls, he said. Another 1,270 were false alarms.
The department cut its average response time to 6 minutes and 24 seconds.
The Fire Department’s budget requests include replacing medical supplies that have limited lifetimes, such as DuoDote injectors for treatment of poisoning and training.
Capital requests include the replacement of two fire engines, turnout gear, monitor defibrillators and fire hose replacement. The trucks would cost an estimated $2 million.
“We have two vehicles that are 10 years of age and 100,000 miles,” Sanders said.
It takes at least two years to get a truck once an order is made. So, if the City Council approves the capital request, the trucks should be delivered by 2024 or early 2025.
In its short-range plans, Sanders said plans are to select a contractor for the construction of Station 5.
The buildout of the backup 911 center on the fourth floor of City Hall was included. A needs assessment for the permanent Station 1 at the Morgan Falls site will be conducted. Calls for service and response times along Peachtree Dunwoody will be examined, as the department determines the need for a future Station 6 near the hospital corridor.