Atlanta mayor says creating new City of Buckhead won’t solve crime problem

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she does not believe the creation of a City of Buckhead would significantly improve crime problems that have disturbed many Buckhead residents recently.

Bottoms says the people committing the crimes are highly mobile, moving across city and county lines regularly. But, when questioned by Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher, Bottoms admitted that APD has fewer officers than she would like.

Still the mayor argues making Buckhead into a city as some residents are discussing won’t settle the problem.

“I don’t believe the creation of another city will solve that issue. As we know, people can travel across geographic lines,” Bottoms told reporters during a virtual briefing on public safety initiatives.

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The mayor could have cited the man accused of shooting and killing a 7-year old girl as her family drove past Phipps Plaza last month. He was from Virginia, and nearly all of the suspects in a year-long series of violent incidents at Lenox Square lived outside the city.

The mayor’s argument may or may not persuade the people who are organizing the Buckhead Exploratory Group, which held a virtual town hall meeting last night. One slide in the group’s presentation said hundreds of people are involved.

Reporters weren’t allowed to ask questions, but one organizer said about Buckhead cityhood “all options are on the table.”

About policing, realtor Sam Leneaus said, “The City of Atlanta police department is facing a critical shortage of officers.”

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Mayor Bottoms doesn’t really dispute the shortage. In answer to questions by Belcher, she said, “You know we’ve been here before and what we are facing in Atlanta is really no different than what’s being faced across the country.”

Bottoms said APD is recruiting aggressively to replace officers who have retired or resigned but getting thorough background checks on candidates is slow “because a number of government entities are not up and functional across the United States.”

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But the mayor repeatedly assured the public that the police department can get the job done.

“Ideally we would have more officers, but I do know that we do have enough officers to cover our city,” she said.

Many new cities have been created in metro Atlanta in recent years, but usually they are created in unincorporated county areas -- such as Sandy Springs in Fulton County and Brookhaven in DeKalb. Carving a new city out of an existing city is more unusual. There was an effort in 2018 to create a City of Eagles Landing from part of Stockbridge, but voters turned it down.