New unit comprised of military veterans will increase visibility and security
ATLANTA- Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George N. Turner today introduced the Path Force Unit, a dedicated public safety resource for the Atlanta BeltLine and adjacent parks, which began its patrols in early July. This new unit of 15 officers and 3 supervisors is the result of a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant received in 2012. Lt. Jeff Baxter is the commanding officer of this new unit, which is comprised entirely of officers who are military veterans, a requirement of the federal grant.
“Today marks another milestone of progress for our City and the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Mayor Reed. “This innovative, highly trained and carefully selected group of officers and commanders will help maintain the Atlanta BeltLine as one of our city’s premier public spaces and attractions for residents and visitors alike.”
The Path Force Unit patrols seven days a week along the three completed trails of the Atlanta BeltLine, the Eastside Trail, West End Trail and the Northside Trail, as well as the interim hiking trails and the nearly complete Southwest Connector Trail. It also patrols adjacent parks including Historic Fourth Ward Park, D.H. Stanton Park, Boulevard Crossing Park and Piedmont Park.
“The Atlanta BeltLine is a valuable new asset for the City of Atlanta, and we are proud to take responsibility for helping to keep its users safe,” Chief Turner said. “Our officers will be highly visible and responsive on these trails. We hope their presence brings an added measure of comfort to the many people who have already discovered the Atlanta BeltLine’s beauty, and encourages others to newly discover it.”
The Path Force officers are a hand-picked team of seasoned APD officers who served in the military after Sept. 11, 2001. The APD also hired 15 military veterans as part of the federal grant’s requirement. The unit will primarily conduct patrols on foot and by bicycle. The unit will soon have use of off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, and is exploring the possibility of adding an electric motor vehicle. The new unit will be based out of the Lofts at Reynoldstown Crossing at 890 Memorial Drive.
“The Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Police Foundation have been great partners in providing public safety on the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Paul Morris, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “I want to thank Chief Turner and (Foundation President and CEO) Dave Wilkinson for their dedication and the incredible work of both of their organizations. The Path Force Unit will further strengthen public safety and complements the infrastructure improvements that are already in place and underway. The Atlanta BeltLine has become one of the greatest amenities our city has to offer and we are committed to keeping it safe and enjoyable for everyone.”
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and APD have formed a strong partnership and are committed to ensuring the continued safety of users of the Atlanta BeltLine. In addition, ABI has helped to facilitate several key upgrades to the Eastside Trail that improve visibility and enhance public safety. Working with Georgia Power, more than 20 light fixtures have been improved or added; mile markers have been installed on the Eastside Trail to facilitate the quick coordination of Path Force response to emergency calls. This lighting and mile marker signage system will continue to be enhanced and extended along the entire 22-mile loop and along spur trails. ABI has also partnered with Trees Atlanta to prune trees and clear invasive growth along the trail, improving lines of site and increasing ambient lighting in the corridor.
The Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) and ABI are currently installing cameras procured by ABI that will feed into the APD Video Integration Center, a citywide system. This summer, The Department of Public Works (DPW) in coordination with ABI is installing new lighting fixtures underneath three bridges that cross the Eastside Trail, at Virginia Avenue, Freedom Parkway and N. Highland Avenue. In addition, DPW has repaired the lights along Freedom Parkway.
All future trails built in the Atlanta BeltLine corridor will include lighting, surveillance cameras and mile markers. APD has been active in this design process and has hosted training for crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) at its headquarters. ABI and APD will continue to work closely on the design and implementation of future segments of the Atlanta BeltLine.