MLPA takes our commitment to maintaining a secure neighborhood very seriously.  A number of dedicated volunteers contribute to our work, but we welcome new volunteers interested in these efforts.

Currently, there are two committees operating under the safety umbrella:

  • Security works with the officers of the Morningside Security Patrol (MSP) to support their efforts. Contact security@mlpa.org to find out how you can contribute to this work.
  • Neighborhood Watch has developed a network of volunteer block captains who collect their neighbors’ contact information and send emails to alert their block of issues or incidents. They also distribute the security report from both our patrol and Virginia Highland.  If you are interested in working with the Neighborhood Watch program, email neighborhoodwatch@mlpa.org.

The February MLPA Security Forum made the news. Channel 2 covered the joint meeting with the new Atlanta Police Department Command team, City Council Representatives, and our neighbors from Virginia Highland. 

MLPA/VHCA Security Forum with the Atlanta Police Department (on Feb. 6, 2017) introduced our neighbors to the new Atlanta Police Department command team including APD Chief Erika Shields, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Glazier, Zone 2 Commander Barry Shaw, and Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek.  They covered the following issues: “Revolving door justice”, environmental crime protection measures, the use of  body cameras and other hi-tech gear, license plate reader cameras and the VIC (video integration center), resources APD needs to improve its efficacy, the Citizen’s Police Academy, the process for integrating neighborhood cameras, speeding and pedestrian safety, car break-in prevention efforts, package theft issues, and a recent spike in overnight crime in Virginia Highland.  Major Shaw closed with a discussion of progress made and recent arrests. 

Discussion with Morningside Security Patrol’s Ric Vasquez, @ February 6th Security Forum

After the session with the APD Command, MLPA VP, Charlie Nalbone, introduced Ric Vasquez, leader of the Morningside Security Patrol.

Vasquez gave a quick overview of the Morningside Security Patrol.  It is manned by off duty Atlanta Police Officers using a fairly non-descript MSP vehicle to make patrols—flashing lights will soon be added to make the patrol more visible.  Currently there are six officers serving on the patrol.  They drive the neighborhood, do vacation checks of members’ homes, and respond to 911 calls that occur when they are on duty (they have police radios).

He spoke about the recent spike in vehicle break-ins especially on Sherwood, Cumberland, Cumberland Circle, Yorkshire, and Hillpine.  These are difficult crimes to solve as they are very labor intensive, requiring a lot of surveillance followed up by a takedown team to make arrests and get these guys off our streets.  Morningside Security Patrol is doing what it can, but at the current membership level, we are only able to run 8 hours/day including some overnight shifts.

The issue of what neighbors should do when they find their cars have been rifled through came up.  Charlie Nalbone stated that we’ve had numerous discussions about this at MLPA meetings and we urge neighbors to call 911 and file a report.  The ONLY way that we get more coverage in response to these crimes is by making a report that then goes into the statistics that APD command uses to allocate resources.

Nalbone urged neighbors to be patient and file the report—since these are property crimes, they will have lower priority than assaults, etc. so it will take longer for an officer to show up to take the report.  We commend neighbors that have the patience and persistence to file reports as their efforts help make all of us safer.

Vasquez talked about the efforts MSP has undertaken to cut down on urban camping in Morningside Nature Preserve.  The MSP is walking the preserve at least monthly—on their last outing they did spot one camp that they examined.  It was concealed down by the creek behind brush and was not occupied when the officers arrived.  They did check through the belongings but found nothing to indicate that anything was stolen property so left it in place.  They did spot an individual and checked them for outstanding warrants, but finding none could not act further.  They did ask them to let the camp owner know that camping in the area is illegal and will not be tolerated.  When Major Shaw met with MLPA President and Neighborhood Watch, he said that he would engage the HOPE team to help bring appropriate services to help move homeless individuals.

An inquiry was made about what additional resources are needed for the MSP and Vasquez responded that he could use more boots on the ground.  In order for that to occur, we need more neighbors to join MLPA as Security Plus Members.  The dues paid fund the MSP and attendees were asked to join and ask their neighbors to join.

Lastly the question of whether it’s better to lock your car or leave it unlocked.  Vasquez stated that it’s a matter of personal choice—he related that his wife doesn’t lock their cars and he gets mad about it so even within his family there doesn’t seem to be agreement.

The meeting concluded with a reminder to call 911, an announcement about the possibility of resurrecting the Tour of Homes including a call for volunteers to help out with the efforts and an announcement about the newly revised mlpa.org website.

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