APD prepares for patrols along Beltline

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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ATLANTA - The Atlanta Police Department's Path Force Unit isn't scheduled to begin patrolling the Beltline for a couple of weeks, but businesses along the urban recreational path area already are getting ready to welcome them.

APD announced last year it would use federal grant money to form the unit after a rash of robberies along the popular Beltline trail.

It plans on using 15-20 officers on foot, bikes, ATVs and even horses to patrol the area.

The unit will use donated space off the Memorial Drive section of the Beltline as its headquarters. APD continues to patrol that trail even as the unit makes its final preparations.

Paris on Ponce Antique Market is right on the Beltline across from the still-under-construction Ponce City Market.

Its owners plan to create an unofficial mini-police substation inside its building starting July 14.

"We basically offered whatever we could do," said Paris on Ponce Manager Nicolette Valdespino. "The idea came up that we were going to do a little substation for them to have their ATVs and bikes and, of course, something for the mounted patrol, too. We'll have hay out there, just a place for them to rest and stop."

"I'm aware of people who have been robbed," said Anita Bowden. She and her family walked and rode bikes on the Beltline Monday. "If I'm by myself, and it's not very crowded, I'll just go on my street route."

Bowden said she would appreciate the dedicated police patrols.

"I think that's great," said Bowden. "I think it's really good that they're going to be more visible to the joggers, runner and bikers."