Major crime in Atlanta is down 18 percent since Mayor Kasim Reed took office. Last year’s murder total, 85, was the lowest since 1962.
But Reed was a bit agitated Monday.
Just days after announcing the city had 40 million visitors last year, the mayor said he is battling a perception that crime is worse than it is – sparked by at least three recent high profile carjackings in the Buckhead area and the strong-arming of a television reporter.
“I want all of our residents and visitors to be cautious, but the bottom line is these acts are outsized and are not consistent with where crime is going,” Reed said on Monday. “People need to know in uncertain terms that you have the wrong person in this job to bring this kind of foolishness to this city and you‘re going to see my response in a very short fashion.”
Reed didn’t offer specifics but said he will meet with senior police officials to come up with “countermeasures to deal with this type of behavior.”
“I feel that there is behavior going on that I am not going to tolerate,” Reed said. “You are going to see me respond to the reality and the perception in a very decisive way. Every reasonable consideration is going to be made by me and I want people to know that I get it, and that this is a big deal.”
Last week, CNN mid-morning anchor Carol Costello reported on her Facebook page that she was mugged of her iPhone while “walking down a beautiful, leafy Atlanta street.”
“Guess what happened next?” she wrote. “Three teenagers ran up behind me. One of them grabbed my iPhone. Stupidly I struggled to hold on to it. But, he was a big guy. And he pulled out a chunk my hair. I let go.” She said the assailant “ran down the street, laughing…”
She said the incident left her angry and sad. “What a lousy life those kids have ahead of them,” Costello wrote.
Three carjackings in Buckhead since late April also have raised concern. In one case, on May 1, a couple had their car stolen after it was bumped from behind.
According to police reports, at around 11 p.m., Mark Hutto and his wife were at a red light at West Wesley and Howell Mill roads when a small, dark SUV hit their Buick Enclave. When Hutto got out to exchange insurance information, three men got out of the SUV with one pointing a .9mm pistol.
Hutto turned over his wallet and keys and the suspects took his car.
The Atlanta Police Department is recommending in similar instances to: not exit your vehicle but lock the doors, put on your flashers, and call 911 to report the accident; leave the car in gear in order to escape if needed; monitor what the other drivers are doing in your rearview mirrors; and simply leave if several people leave the other car and approach you suddenly.
“You assume that when you are behind the wheel, you are going to be safe. Now we are seeing that that is not always the case,” said Councilman Howard Shook, who represents Buckhead. “The good news is that they are going to get caught. They always do.”