Court Watching

The city court hearings for both of the graffiti vandals using the tag names BEAV and VOMIT are now set for June 6th. When I learn of the court times I will make a vhlist posting if you would like to go with me to see these hearings and sentencings. These were two very active and prolific vandals all over this part of the city.

DeKalb County now has started a Court Watch program for their state criminal court system. This will now complement our Fulton County CourtWatch program and includes all of the Zone 6 city neighborhoods that are in DeKalb County. Send an e-mail to Ms. Sonja Brown for more info as to how you can be involved at snbrown@dekalbcountyga.gov – she is the organizer of this program and I got to know her when she was in our Fulton County D.A.’s office. Court Watch is the public’s eyes and ears in the courtroom.

Fulton County CourtWatch Annual Training Session

All of the details are on the attached flyer. I have attended for either 3 or 4 times and still learn something new every year. I’ll be leaving Vance Avenue at 8:30 a.m. on the 3rd and will be glad to offer a ride for up to 3 persons who want to go with me. This is a fantastic way to learn about our complicated justice and court system, and I highly recommend this well-organized session.

CourtWatch Opportunity Concerning the Burgundy Buick

While I was at CourtWatch this past Thursday morning, I learned from our Zone 6 community prosecutor, Joshua Geller, that he has scheduled a bond revocation hearing for Paul Douglas Williams, on 2/12. Williams is now free on bail stemming from two arrests and Josh wants to get him behind bars pending the hearings on these arrests. We all know how many times Williams has been spotted here and this is a chance to make sure he does not return soon. When I hear of a definite time and court room I will make a posting on the vhlist and hope that I can have company on the benches to support Josh.

Kozak Sentenced!

Timothy Kozak, the remaining co-defendant in the burglary ring that plundered through VaHi, Fourth Ward, Poncey Highland and Midtown, pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced to serve 20 years – 10 in prison. Kozak admitted to burglaries at Camden Midtown Apartments, the VaHi Church and adjoining pre-school, and various residential burglaries.

Kozak was sentenced as a recidivist, meaning, he will serve every day of the ten years in prison due to his prior record. The balance of his sentence is to be served on probation with conditions – he be banned from this area and that he undergo drug treatment.

The excellent investigation and cooperation by Zone 5 and Zone 6 burglary squads made this conviction possible. Sgt. Cooper of the MPSA assisted Zone 5 Lt. McGee in the apprehension in Midtown. Sgt. D. Schierbaum, Officer C. Gurley, and Sgt. Cooper pursued this case with significant personal sacrifices, as they appeared in court numerous times, spending hours, often on their off-days to see that Kozak was convicted. Our community is so fortunate to have such dedicated law enforcement officers serving us.
Thanks to the many members of Citizen’s CourtWatch, who have patiently followed this case for the past year. In spite of the many court appearances, which took place on short notice, they were unwavering in their support. Their persistence in seeing justice served certainly paid off.

The above report was from Sharla Jackson, our community prosecutor. You can thank her at sharla.jackson@fultoncountyga.gov You can commend Sgt. Schierbaum to Zone 5 Major Williams at kwilliams@atlantaga.gov and Officer Gurley to Zone 6 Major Propes at epropes@atlantaga.gov These are folks who deserve a pat on the back from us!

Lamb Sentenced!

Kenneth Lamb appeared before Judge Jackson Bedford on 9/21 for a probation revocation hearing – stemming from a probated 2006 sentence for cocaine possession. The warrant for arrest was issued by his probation officer for not completing his required drug treatment program. Lamb was sentenced to two years prison time – the maximum allowed for this violation. He is then banned from Fulton County for the remaining five years of his sentence. Lamb still faces 3 more hearings for other probation violations and a terrorist threat charge. This process will go on for a long time yet. But he is safely behind bars on Rice Street in the meantime.

CourtWatch Report

Monday morning’s scheduled hearing for Timothy Kozak was a disappointment for we CourtWatchers, as his hearing was yet again postponed til a later date to September 28th. Remember, he was one of the robbing crew that looted and desecrated the Virginia Highland Church and the adjoining pre-school facility several months ago. Since I realize that is hard for working church members and pre-school parents to attend these daytime hearings, I am asking that these folks send me a short, concise statement expressing your disgust and how this invasion affected you – I will then take these statements with me to court on 9/28 in the hopes that I will be able to read them aloud when community input is asked for. I am hopeful that the next hearing will be in Judge Glanville’s courtroom again,as he is supportive of getting citizen’s comments before sentencing. Send your comments to me at safety@vahi.org

CourtWatch Opportunity

A trial for defendant Timothy Kozak is scheduled for August 10th at 9:30 a.m. in CourtRoom 5F in the Fulton County Justice Center downtown. He is one of the group that burglarized and desecrated the Virginia Highland Church and the International Pre-School several months ago. If you are a member of this church, the pre-school or a disgusted neighbor, please consider joining we regular CourtWatchers to see that justice is served on this individual who wreaked havoc on this house of worship and children’s school.

Safety Team Report 3/6/09

Virginia Highland Scores A Win!!

Recently I was contacted by an APD Officer who wanted to perform some extra patrol time as a volunteer, giving back to his city. We are the winner, as he selected us for his generous offer!! His name is Officer Terence Alexander, and you will recognize him walking our streets, not only from his uniform and orange APD vest – but from his ear-to-ear smile. To begin with, he will be walking along North Highland Avenue from PDL Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue, in late afternoon-early evening, looking for problems along this important pedestrian route. He has promised to stop into businesses and introduce himself, and if you are a restaurant owner, and if he looks like he might be hungry – you know what to offer. His patrols will be on a random basis, which is good, as he hopes to make some arrests as he patrols. Be sure to return his smile as you encounter him on the street and welcome him to VaHi.

CourtWatch Training Saturday Morning

This is your chance to learn more than you ever dreamed about the inner workings of our Fulton County justice system from the folks who are in the Court House every day. This session will run from 9 a.m. til noon, March 7th, in the Justice Center building at 185 Central Avenue, S.W. downtown. Parking is convenient at the Underground garage on MLK or get off the train at 5 Points. Go to courtwatch@fultoncountyga.gov for more info. Learn what happens to our criminals after our APD folks make an arrest and see how this system works or doesn’t work – depending on all the variables involved. This is a real eye-opening session and you, as involved citizens, need to understand this vital part of our total crime problem.

Our New Parkland

I have recently learned that our newly acquired future parkland at North Highland Avenue at St. Charles Place is being used as an ad hoc parking lot. Granted, we have a long road ahead to transform this land to a park – but parking is NOT part of the plan. If you are a business owner nearby and you suspect your patrons are parking here – please ask them to move. The recent rains are going to make this a mud lot and ruin the grass cover. We may have to post this area for towing, if this problem continues.

The Briarcliff Summit building

This past week, I attended a resident’s meeting in this beleaguered apartment building, and really got an eyeful (and earful) as to living and safety conditions. I hope and intend to be involved in some sort of an improvement program – but really need some advisory help from you folks. I am not necessarily asking for folks to attend meetings with me – but I need e-mail advice from folks who are versed in HUD, Section 8, social services and other related aspects of senior citizen/handicapped housing, as I put togther a plan of action for myself. And, yes, in case you have been hearing rumors, there was a homicide in this building a few days ago. It was not a stranger-on-stranger crime, but a homicide nonetheless, and a life was taken. The perp has been arrested. I hope to help make some sort of a difference in the living conditions of the residents – but I do need some advisory help. Let me know at safety@vahi.org as to how you can help me. These folks are our neighbors, and need a safe place to live.

Crime reports from APD

The following crime information is for weeks # 8 and 9 of 2009, and is gleaned from our APD Zone 6 reports, with emphasis on our Beat # 603, but with news from around the Zone as it applies to us in our everyday lives. This report is not meant to scare anyone, but to give you a chance to alter your daily activities to avoid being the victim of criminal activity. No – we can’t always avoid crime, but informed and alert folks are far safer in the long run.

Auto Theft – Trailer thefts continue – this time the vehicle attached was also taken at a work site on Lenox Road. Scooter/motorcycle thefts also continue with ones being stolen on PDL Avenue, PDL Place, Greenwood Avenue, and even an inoperable motorcycle from St. Charles Avenue. As a warning, a car was stolen from a driveway on Custer Avenue, S.E. while the resident was unloading groceries – but unfortunately left it running in the process.

Commercial Burglary – Lenox Park Cleaners was entered through a smashed front glass, as was the Green Sprout restaurant on Piedmont Avenue, and Half Moon Outfitters on North Highland Avenue. Two different units were entered and robbed at the storage facility on Monroe Drive in Piedmont Heights. Vocalicity offices on Virginia Avenue lost 20 laptops and a cleaning person is suspected, since there was no forced entry.

Larceny From Auto – Smash and grabs were reported on Arlington Place, Briarcliff Place, Lanier Boulevard, Virginia Avenue (3), North Highland Avenue, St, Augustine Place, Vance Avenue, Greenwood Avenue (2), and PDL Avenue. Of these 12 incidents – 10 of the victims were from outside of our neighborhood. If you are in the local hospitality or retail business – please remember the Clean Car Campaign, and gently warn your patrons to clean out their cars before dining/drinking/shopping at your business. Also, if you have visitors in your home – give them the same message. Crime victims are not going to think highly of our neighborhood. All around total Zone 6, SEVENTEEN GPS systems were stolen, 2 in-dash radios were ripped out, 2 more catalytic converters were sawed off, 4 license plates were taken off, and two weapons/ammo thefts were reported. Also – would you buy a stethoscope from a guy on Ponce or Boulevard – one was stolen in this time period and is certainly for sale somewhere.

Larceny Other – A patron’s purse was looted at the Local Bar on PDL Avenue, the PDL Blockbuster reported a shoplifter who escaped, and yet another female shopper at the Edgewood Kroger had a checkbook stolen from an unwatched shopping cart purse. Checks were also stolen from a mailbox in Kirkwood. Pick up your new check order at the bank – don’t have them mailed to you!! Our PDL Avenue Kroger and Publix stores caught 2 shoplifters, and the Edgewood Target caught 3 illegal shoppers (wonder how many these stores did not catch?).

Pedestrian Robbery – On 2/21 at 1:50 a.m. in the parking lot of the Club Jungle on Faulkner Road, a lone female victim, talking on her cell phone in her vehicle, was robbed at gunpoint. Quite obviously her car door was not locked with the window rolled down, and who the heck was she talking to at 1:50 a.m.? Also on 2/21 at 1:30 a.m. a lone male exiting his car, was robbed at gunpoint in his apartment parking lot on Piedmont Avenue.

Residential Burglary – A door was kicked in to gain entry at a LaVista Road apartment. On Bonaventure Avenue, an apartment was entered via a pried open back door. A Los Angeles Avenue garage was easily entered through an open door. A Briarcliff Road apartment had a smashed window – but nothing taken. On St. Charles Avenue, the front door was pried open, with a hand gun stolen to add to the arsenal on the streets. And on St. Louis Place, a side window was pried open for entry. All around total Zone 6 for this time period – entry was made via kicked-in doors to 9 residences.

Help Wanted

As I filled out my goals for the 2009 strategy plan report for the civic association, I fully realize I need some help to achieve my goals. I need folks to step up and assume responsibility for the following areas to help make this a safer, cleaner, more aware and connected neighborhood -
1. Produce another successful National Night Out event (time to be determined yet by the national organization)
2. Hold another successful Street Captain training and informational meeting
3. Organize a graffiti and trash patrol group to keep our neighborhood clean and inviting
4. Organize a traffic/sidewalk/parking/transportation committee
Of course, I will work with and provide guidance for all of these activities – but I can’t be a one-man committee to achieve these goals for this year. Thanx already to David Rein for stepping up to try to figure out a way to produce a crime-mapping system for the neighborhood. Again, I am at safety@vahi.org

If you were among the several thousand folks who were not at Anne Fauver’s Town Hall meeting this past week – you missed a terrific and informative session as to the current financial state of our city and public safety concerns. I’ll be posting things I learned that nite in future reports. I don’t want this report to become too long.

Be alert and be safe!!

John

Safety Team Report 2/20/09

Citizen’s CourtWatch Training

– Learn How to Advocate for Your Community. This program helps community members actively participate in the criminal justice system. This is a wonderful way to find out how our justice system works and why it sometimes fails us. It’s an intricate process involving aspects of law enforcement, the prosecution system, our jail and penal system and the legal profession. This training session really helps to make sense of how all these different systems have to work hand in hand to protect us, and is very well presented. I hope several folks from our NPU can attend and join in our network of courtwatchers I can call on to attend specific court cases. This is on Saturday, March 7 from 9 to noon at the Fulton County Courthouse, Justice Center Tower, at 185 Central Avenue, S.W. For more info e-mail to courtwatch@fultoncountyga.gov or call Janet Martin at 404-699-5297. This is sponsored by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Community Prosecution Program. I’ll be glad to answer questions too at safety@vahi.org

City Council District 6 Town Hall Meeting

– Anne Fauver is hosting this event, March 4, at 7 p.m. at the Inman Middle School, with the main topics of discussion being city public safety, the budget crisis, and other related city information. See you there!

Crime reports from APD

The following crime stat info is taken from our APD Zone 6 reports for weeks 6 and 7 of 2009, with specific emphasis on our Beat # 603, but news from around all of Zone 6 as it pertains to us. Please take heed from this info as to how you can alter your day to day activities to avoid being the victim of crime, and heighten your sense of awareness.

Aggravated Assault – On 2/4 at noon on Kings Court in Morningside the victim stated the suspects blocked his vehicle in his driveway and began to yell at him for honking his horn at passersby. The w/f suspect got out of the vehicle, cocked and pointed a pistol at him. The victim ran to the house to get his father – the w/m and w/f then left in their car.

Auto Theft – One vehicle stolen from Rosedale Drive.

Larceny From Auto – Vehicles were broken into on Virginia Avenue (2) and a license plate was stolen from a car on Glen Arden Way being replaced with a stolen one. Keep checking to make sure you have your plate on your car.
Around all of Zone 6 in this time period there were 3 license plates taken off, 14 GPS systems stolen, 5 indash stereo/radios ripped out, two cases of wheels/tires taken off, one catalytic converter sawed off, and two more weapons added to the arsenal on the streets. Keep reminding your visitors to make sure their car is cleaned out to make their VaHi visit safe.

Larceny Other – Another trailer stolen – this time from the Publix parking lot (under the cover of darkness) at Lavista and Cheshire Bridge Roads. A FedEx package stolen from a Rock Springs Circle front porch. A construction company’s BobCat stolen from a Cheshire Bridge Road parking lot (maybe they loaded it into a stolen trailer?). A Bellevue Drive resident is missing jewelry and a dog walker is suspected. The BlockBuster on PDL Avenue caught a shoplifter. Money was taken from the bar of an unidentified PDL Avenue tavern. An ice machine was stolen from Doc Chey’s on North Highland Avenue. A locked bike was taken from a rack in front of the Majestic on PDL Avenue. At the bowling alley on Piedmont Circle – a watch was stolen when placed on top of the victim’s purse while she went to the snack bar (I’m surprised the purse wasn’t taken also). Employee’s personal items were taken from a storage room at the Dark Horse Tavern on North Highland Avenue. At the Edgewood Retail District, the Target caught 7 shoplifters, the Kroger’s caught 5 shoplifters (including another guy with two bottles of champagne in his pants). The PDL Avenue Kroger and Publix stores caught 9 shoplifters.

Pedestrian Robbery – On 2/7 at 2:10 a.m. a Virginia Avenue resident was walking to her car on Lindbergh Drive when a car pulled up with one armed b/m getting out and demanding her purse – he also demanded her car keys, but she refused and the perps fled in their car. On 2/1 at 11:15 p.m. a local female resident was walking in the alley behind Atkins Park Restaurant when two h/m grabbed her purse and fled in a white minivan.

Residential Burglary – At the Briarcliff Summit building on PDL Avenue an apartment was entered for thievery. On 2/6 at 3:03 a.m. at a PDL Avenue apartment the victims came home to find one perp in their living room – as they grabbed him they heard another perp fleeing from a side door – they saw a total of 3 b/m jump the fence behind their building. Entry was made through a smashed side door glass panel. On 2/7 at 11:45 p.m. at a Somerset Terrace apartment in Poncey Highland, the victims were in the apartment below theirs when they heard footsteps overhead – they went upstairs and caught the perp in the act. On 2/13 another PDL Avenue apartment was entered via a smashed rear window. All around Zone 6 in this time period 14 residences were entered via kicked-in doors, including one on Piedmont Circle. Nine residential flat screen tv’s were stolen – being very honest with yourself – see if your set is visible through windows from the street. Don’t give these guys an invitation to break in to your home. Don’t think they are not out driving around at nite and looking for ones that can be easily seen.

Other News For Business Owners

– These tips are from Threat Management Consultants – www.threatmangment.net on the use of panic alarms. These should be placed discretely at the register, office and kitchen and where they cannot be hit accidentally. Mobile panic alarms should be used by the most mobile employee during business hours and at closing time two employees should be equipped – the person counting out the cash and another person elsewhere in the business in the event of a robbery. Care needs to be taken against accidental false alarms to avoid false alarm fines.

PEDS News

– PEDS is about to launch an upgrade to their website at www.PEDS.org The Take Action tool where you can report pedestrian hazards directly to the City of Atlanta responsible person will be expanded to allow pictures to be downloaded for a better report. April will be Feet on Atlanta month and PEDS will be asking for dangerous sidewalk conditions – but don’t wait til then to make a report, since we still have miles of bad sidewalks. Visit their website to learn about all their activities.

North Highland Avenue Streetscape Improvements

– The second phase of this project (centered around the south side of the Virginia Avenue intersection) is scheduled to begin February 20 with the bulk of the construction completed before Summerfest. Hope we can believe this schedule!

Springtime Special Events

– The ING Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, March 29th on the same route as last year – be prepared this year! Dogwood Festival returns to Piedmont Park on the 3rd weekend of April. The parking/traffic plan will be basically the same as instituted two years ago (which really worked) and will be coordinated by our own FBAC/APD Detective Chris Clark.

Recycling

– If you are using additional containers for your recycling other than the city issued black box or the new big blue cans, I have stickers on my front porch at 1054 Vance Avenue, that you can identify your ad hoc containers with so they will not be mistaken for regular trash. Just come by and get them from my porch.

Be alert and stay safe!!!!

John