Businesses in northwest Atlanta asking for return to police foot patrols

ATLANTA — Local business leaders said crime has gotten so bad in the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive area that customers no longer want to come back, and they are hoping the city will help them.

Residents in northwest Atlanta told Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston the one thing they said did stop crime: Police foot patrols in the area.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Chief Erika Shields started a program two years ago and crime dropped by 55%, but it went away, and the crime returned.

“The last two years, it’s just been a lot of unnecessary crime, a lot of loitering, just not enough police presence and it’s just disheartening,” Monica Smith said.

Smith and her husband own Mr. Everything Café. It’s been here since the ‘90s, but she said crime is making it difficult to stay.

“People don’t want to come down to support the business. They’re scared. They don’t want their car broken into. They don’t want their car stolen,” Smith said.

In January 2020, Huddleston spoke with former Atlanta police chief Erika Shields about a new police foot and bike patrol for the area. Police say crime dropped 50%, but the units went away.


Johnny Mims, President of the MLK-Ashby Business Association said, “They created a foot beat and a bicycle beat. We had west side blue going and the crime went down. Well, what happened to that? Someone had the great idea that it wasn’t needed anymore.”

Monday afternoon, Mayor Andre Dickens and the current police chief Rodney Bryant met with residents and business owners and told the group that they are here to help.

Huddleston asked Bryant if those foot and bike patrols will come back, and he said yes.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Bryant also said the area now has a new zone commander.

“We just need help over here. There are viable businesses in this community that serve the community, and we need to be helped,” Smith said.