We therefore keep a watchlist of problematic individuals that have come to our attention. In our years of operation the patrol has dealt with hundreds of individuals. Others have come to our attention either through direct observation, or from reports coming from residents and businesses in the neighborhood. Of these, we only catalog those who either maintain a chronic or recurring presence in the area, or have perpetrated very serious crimes in the neighborhood. In addition, there is a small handful of additional individuals whom we treat as “at-risk” rather than as criminals or worse. Currently, the watchlist has 362 individuals, and we have sorted them into several major groupings.
MOST CHRONIC GROUPINGS
Group I: Ponce & Boulevard - These appear chronically in the Ponce & Boulevard area primarily for drug-related purposes. The Ponce Hotel plays a heavy role in their chronic presence by either housing criminals in the area, allowing tenants to draw in others that loiter on that property, or allowing undesirables to loiter on the property. Street drugs form the foundational characteristic of this bunch – they live for one thing, and one thing only: their next hit of drugs. Because of this group, Ponce & Boulevard is where Crack (coming mostly from Bedford-Pine area) meets Meth (coming from the Cheshire Bridge area).
This street drug culture spawns a myriad of other detrimental issues. Historically, street prostitution was the most prominent and obtrusive feature of this group when we started the MPSA in 2003. Quite a few (mostly white) female street prostitutes and (mostly) white male meth-addicted street hustlers ping-ponging between P&B and the Cheshire Bridge area operated in this area. While street prostitutes are not nearly as visible as before, they are still around.
Drug-related street prostitution is only the beginning. This profile group engages in a lot of procurement crime, such as car break-ins and burglaries. They break into cars and homes, and peddle the stolen goods around Ponce & Boulevard to buy drugs, or trade them for drugs.
Over the years, we have seen a dramatic reduction in the presence of these criminals, but too many still linger. The final closing of the Ponce Hotel will be instrumental in achieving further reduction of street criminals revolving around Ponce & Boulevard. The closing of this anchor point, at least in its current incarnation, remains anxiously awaited. Redevelopment and the ensuing gentrification will ultimately finish the job for us at Ponce & Boulevard, and eliminate these criminals as a distinct profile group.
This is a complex group, and there is more to it than the Ponce Hotel. The drug trade revolving around the Bedford-Pine apartments also plays a major but gradually decreasing role in the problems (thanks to Councilman Kwanza Hall’s Year of Boulevard initiative). Still, Bedford-Pine remains a problem area as long as its management fails to prevent unauthorized tenants from settin up camp and dealing drugs. And then Bedford-Pine does not encompass all of the drug activity in the area immediately to the south of our patrol area.
There were also a couple individuals living in the service area and known to be trafficking drugs and stolen goods. We also had some problem tenants sprinkled around the neighborhood contributing to the Ponce & Boulevard phenomenon. We have managed to identify and get them pushed out of the neighborhood. Over the years we identified some vagrant encampments like Camp Burger King, had those cleaned out, and ended up routing out a number of undesirables from the area as a result. Several flophouses on North Avenue just east of Boulevard, known as Crackhouse Row, are now burned out and boarded up.
Nowadays the remaining druggies revolving around Ponce & Boulevard generally know not to come into the residential area, and to keep a low profile otherwise. We did this in part with “unwanted” posters placed in strategic places, and aggressively court-watched those not keeping a low profile (like Andrew Arnett and Jackie Sue Hunter). They know that they will stay in prison for their maximum prison sentence, and not make parole, if we find out about them getting arrested for something.
Group II: Trans Prostitute Gang - These are the trans prostitutes appearing in the southwest portion of the MPSA service area on a nightly basis. Street prostitution is a foundational characteristic of this segment of the watchlist, but they engage in other criminal activity too. Of all the street criminals, their banding together for criminal purposes makes them most cohesive of our street criminal categories. By comparison, the individuals in the other groupings tend to be solitary offenders. Prostitution in a residential area, combined with their gang-like modus operandi, makes this group particularly problematic. Of all the criminal groupings, the trans prostitutes have budged the least and remain dead-set on maintaining the southwest portion of our service area as their territory. Their presence also compounds the problems inflicted by Group III (below). More about the trans prostitute gang in our latest prostitution report.
Group III: Prowlers - The prowlers roaming around the neighborhood consist mainly of vagrants staying in shelters or camping in the area, or otherwise living on the streets. Drug-related vagrancy is the common denominator of this (somewhat of a catch-all) grouping. The prowler group is alot like the Ponce & Boulevard group, except we have made the distinction between those frequenting Ponce & Boulevard, and the street people who do not. While Bedford-Pine drives alot of Group I (above), Peachtree-Pine’s influence contributes much more to the prowler phenomenon. Feeding programs also compound this problem group.
Many appear in the area of Cypress & 7th Streets as male street hustlers, but crop up in the MPSA service area as prowlers, dope boys, street burglars, and car break-in perps. These crimes are also perpetrated by vagrants camping in places like the Beltline behind Piedmont Park. In fact, we attribute nearly all of the remaining car break-ins and many of the burglaries to the prowler group. Sometimes they perpetrate street muggings, and can be seen casing blocks in the neighborhood. They come around day and night.
Among this eclectic group are also some perverts like Nakia Graham and Tywong McCoy, who are notorious for flashing and fondling themselves at women. This groups is also known for a moderate volume of urban camping camping – on business properties, vacant houses, along alleyways, in Piedmont Park and especially the wooded areas around the park. The dope boys drawn in by the trans prostitute gang are also in this group.
Group IV: Major Criminals - These are by far the most serious, but thankfully there are not many of them. Group IV consists of criminals who have perpetrated one-time major incidents, but appear randomly. They are not known to appear in the area chronically or regularly. These are not street people but mostly roving robbers sometimes striking other neighborhoods along with Midtown. We are happy to say that much of this group is in prison. Examples among these dangerous criminals include Nyquarious Edwards (9th Street carjacking), Sean Jessie (Penn Avenue home invasion), and Dennis Stallings (robbery perp in the February 2013 rash and was later sent to prison).
The typical scenario among robbery suspects is that they rove around town, sometimes in a stolen car, and hunt for potential victims walking along the streets. In some cases they park somewhere and walk around to prowl around for victims. This is reflected by the fact that in many robberies, stolen credit cards are used in relatively far away places like East Point and SW Atlanta within an hour after the victim is robbed. More about this phenomenon in our report on robberies from February 2013:
There is not a whole lot we can do at patrol level to prevent these, except to have an officer around as much as possible to increase the chance that these perps are quickly apprehended. These situations are always major calls, and require advanced APD resources because of the extremely dangerous nature of these individuals. Again, these are thankfully rare but very serious when they do strike.
Group V: Day Laborers - Mostly hispanic males congregating in front of the Home Depot on Ponce who sometimes camp, urinate, drink in public places, and generate nuisance complaints. It is important to note that we do not routinely catalog day laborers as such, as day laboring is a perfectly legitimate form of employment. They are only added to the watchlist when a criminal offense or recurring nuisance activity is noted. Our watchlist currently has only one individual from this category. Issues with this group tend to be limited to nuisance activity, and most reports of activity among this group are not pegged to specific individuals. We are also seeing fewer nuisance and criminal issues among this group than we did five years ago given that a collaborative effort between APD and MPSA has brought this issue under a reasonable measure of control to ensure that community concerns of more serious criminal activity, perhaps gang activity, never materialized.
The one individual from this category has a history of belligerence, obtrusive loitering, public drunkenness, and kicking someone’s dog. He’s still around, but seems to have mellowed out.
Group VI: Misc. Criminals & Problem Individuals - These do not fit into any of the other categories, and tend to be unique types of cases. Issues in this category almost always involve individuals appearing regularly or living in/near the neighborhood. Among these individuals we are not aware of involvement with street drugs or prostitution. Some like Kenneth Lamb are labeled as psychopaths.
Group VII: Other (nearby) neighborhoods - These individuals primarily appear in other neighborhoods or to a limited extent non-MPSA Midtown. This category is designed to accomodate reports and intel coming from other neighborhoods, and special requests from APD published in Eye on Midtown. We file them under this category if they are not known or believed to be ongoing Midtown issues, and sometimes stand a good chance of becoming Midtown issues later. Example: the individual who assaulted the woman in the park in Old Fourth Ward. There are only a small handful of these.
After 11 years of operation, we continue to make progress toward optimizing public safety & order in our beautiful neighborhood, but much work remains to be done. We work in two ways: by funding a neighborhood patrol through a membership drive, and by working to reduce the need for the patrol through efforts like court watch & collaboration with APD and other public officials. Ongoing support from neighbors like you is very much appreciated, and we look forward to taking Midtown even further in overcoming these challenges, and thereby enhancing the Midtown experience.
In an upcoming report we will discuss how we rate individual street criminals and problem persons.
|Legislative update - As we announced a month ago, we are pursuiing legislation to more effectively target the prostitutes and the johns they draw taking over the streets in a certain part of the neighborhood. We sent a letter to several legislators (linked below). One legislator has taken interest in our issues, and so far we have found the dialog to be very helpful in implementing strategies to combat this scourge. We are not going to divulge details at this point, but we are working in the background to bring about stepped-up measures to make it clear that these criminals have no place in our vision for a safer and more secure Midtown experience.
For now, we leave you with two things:
I. THE BASIC NATURE OF STREET PROSTITUTION:
Regardless of the form that it takes, street prostitution badly undermines the health and vitality of any community afflicted by it, and it becomes much more problematic when it occurs in residential areas. It is one thing when prostitutes ply their trade in a non-residential area like truck stops and abandoned commercial strips, but endangering people where they live is beyond reprehensible.
The twelve years we have been serving the Midtown community have shown us first-hand that street prostitution draws in a host of other criminal elements, starting with drug activity and then onward to the prowlers stalking our streets & alleyways, to car break-in culprits roaming the neighborhood, street burglars casing homes and residents, and even dangerous criminals that rob and mug residents and visitors alike.
Not only does it create a lawless atmosphere attracting further criminal activity (i.e. the Broken Window theory), but many of those involved with street prostitution also engage in criminal activity beyond prostitution and drug activity. Most street prostitutes have a wide range of issues in their criminal histories.
II. FALLOUT FROM STREET PROSTITUTION IN MIDTOWN:
III. FORMS OF STREET PROSTITUTION IN MIDTOWN:
Street prostitution in Midtown occurs in three major hotspots, which in turn serve as major anchor points for further criminal activity:
1. The most visible and problematic variation of street prostitution in Midtown is brought to us by very aggressive trans prostitutes who ply their trade in a gang-like fashion. They literally take over the streets in a certain part of the residential area on a nightly basis, and remain dead-set on maintaining that area as their territory. They generate an atmosphere of serious disorder, and bring in a steady stream of drug dealers into the residential area looking to serve them once they have have money from a trick. Some of the trans prostitutes even deal drugs under the guise of street prostitution.
2. We have remnants of the Ponce & Boulevard variants (both regular female and male street hustlers) revolving around a street drug culture. They also ply their trade in plain view of where people live – like Glen Iris Lofts, Ponce de Leon Court, and the Bedford-Pine apartments where many disadvantaged, single mothers struggle to keep their children from falling into the hands of bad influences. Many of these offenders also burglarize and break into cars in Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
3. Male hustlers converge on Cypress Street outside of people’s condos. While Cypress Street is outside of the MPSA service area, they crop up in the service area as burglars and car break-in perps.
IV. UNIQUE PROSTITUTION ISSUES IN MIDTOWN
Street prostitution in Midtown is further compounded for us by the way a distinct set of particularly aggressive prostitutes, namely what we have labeled the trans prostitute gang, band together to take over the streets in a certain part of our neighborhood to perpetrate their criminal activity. They do so in a blatant, gang-like manner and without any regard for the residential community they have chosen to afflict. And they are very resolved to maintain that portion of the neighborhood as their territory. Other communities experience different variations of street prostitution and with different demographic details, but the end effect is all the same – it poses a continuing threat to the safety, health, and vibrancy of the neighborhood we call home. It is simply not right that law-abiding citizens have to tip-toe around a band of criminals on a nightly basis.
V. THE CHRONIC OFFENDER PROBLEM:
Since street prostitutes almost always ply the trade in order to support a drug habit, diversion and rehab programs, and other services should be readily available- to those genuinely receptive to them and willing to make the necessary commitment to such. Since social services are not within our scope and mission we lack the expertise to go into specifics. But we need additional measures to enable our law enforcement agencies and court systems to address the problems of recidivist and recalcitrant offenders that comprise a majority of those engaging in street prostitution.
In our experience in working for a safer Midtown and researching the prostitutes and other criminals coming into the neighborhood, we have found that too many offenders go through diversion programs over and over, only to return to their circuit and resume criminal activity. Furthermore, street prostitution ends up being a prolific enabling factor in this cycle of criminal activity. We have participated in the court watch program at the Fulton County DA’s office for several years, and have seen this phenomenon in action over and over.
The most appropriate response to any kind of criminal activity must contain the core message that criminal activity is never appropriate and must stop immediately and unconditionally. Without this core message, alternative responses to criminal activity will inevitably fail because they accomplish nothing more than another way to play the system and continue to undermine the safety and quality of life for the residents of Midtown, much of which is driven by the relative impunity with which street prostitutes inflict their criminal activity upon the community we call home. This always leaves us with the critical question of how to best protect our community.
Inflicting this kind of criminal activity upon a residential area should be treated with increased criminal liability. Our years of experience have led us to the conclusion that legislation similar to the elements in the appendix of this report would better promote safe and thriving neighborhoods. We put on the table an idea for legislation making prostitution-related criminal activity a felony when it occurs in imminent proximity to where people live (we suggested that it be defined as within 500 to 1000 feet of a “dwelling,” which seems to be the preferred term in the Official Code of Georgia). We are, however, open to other ideas that would have the same effect in imparting a strong message that people have a fundamental right to a safe neighborhood in which to live, and that criminal activity in residential areas should be treated with extra sensitivity. We also would like to see this legislation target both the prostitutes themselves, and the especially the johns who encroach upon neighborhoods to exploit their presence in front of people’s homes.
In the interim this legislator also would like to see law enforcement step up use of an existing law that provides for forfeiture and seizure of vehicles used by johns when picking up prostitutes. Under Georgia law § 16-6-13.2, someone picking up a prostitute is subject to having a vehicle confiscated in certain instances. It also remains to be seen what the Mayor will do with the SOAP legislation introduced last year in city council.
Some pictures of the trans prostitute gang operating outside people’s homes:
Thankfully, January was a slow month. The snow event knocked out several days of patrolling, so that’s a little bit of money to roll over. January is usually like this.
Highlights from the patrol logs:
Spring is just around the corner, and we all know what that means…
The Georgia legislature will be back in session next week, and with that we will seek some sponsors for neighborhood-supportive legislation. We have one major item for that in mind – enhancing the incarcerability of the street prostitutes and their johns who plague a certain part of the neighborhood on a nightly basis. We are calling for legislation to more effectively help us in dealing with a problematic segment of our street criminals.
Currently, prostitution and pandering (picking up prostitutes) is currently only a misdemeanor. We will be approaching some legislators looking for sponsorship for a law we have tentatively dubbed “aggravated prostitution.” This form of prostitution would be defined along the lines of prostitution in a residential area (we will suggest “within 500 feet of a window or door of any dwelling”), and work to have that designated a felony punishable up to five years incarceration. This is separate from the SOAP legislation in City Hall, which we also need.
The most aggravating aspect of the nightly infliction by the trans prostitute gang is that they are perpetrating their criminal activity in a residential area. It is one thing that prostitutes go to a non-residential area to practice their trade, but endangering people at and around their homes is beyond unacceptable. Folks deserve to feel safe in their homes, and prostitutes and their johns undermine this.
In Georgia, other criminal offenses are given enhanced punishments when it involves a residence. For example, burglary of a home is punishable with up to 20 years imprisonment while burglary of a non-residential structure is punishable by a maximum of 5 years on first offense. Also, picketing at someone’s home is usually prohibited by law and does not come under first amendment. Why? People have the right to live in peace and safety in their homes. Because of its highly criminogenic nature and the way it endangers residents, we strongly feel that street prostitution in a residential area should carry a heavier criminal liability than it currently does.
For now we would love to hear from Midtowners about how you feel about having street prostitution immediately outside of your home. As we have done with other issues, we would like to build a dossier of replies on this issue. Please share your thoughts to email@example.com. Below we have posted the current law, and suggestions for enhancement. Please send us your views on the subject of prostitution in residential areas, and stay tuned for more details.
These are the current laws on the books:
§ 16-6-9. Prostitution: A person commits the offense of prostitution when he or she performs or offers or consents to perform a sexual act, including but not limited to sexual intercourse or sodomy, for money or other items of value.
§ 16-6-12. Pandering: A person commits the offense of pandering when he or she solicits a person to perform an act of prostitution in his or her own behalf or in behalf of a third person or when he or she knowingly assembles persons at a fixed place for the purpose of being solicited by others to perform an act of prostitution.
16-6-13. Penalties for violating Code Sections 16-6-9 through 16-6-12 (excerpt): (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, a person convicted of any of the offenses enumerated in Code Sections 16-6-10 through 16-6-12 shall be punished as for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A person convicted of the offense enumerated in Code Section 16-6-9 shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
And here are some needed enhancements. These were put together from a layman’s standpoint, and the real thing would need legal review for most appropriate verbiage and placement in the criminal code. The definition of “dwelling” was taken verbatim from another statute.
§ 16-6-9.1 Aggravated Prostitution: (a) As used in this Code section, the term “Dwelling” means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is designed or intended for occupancy for residential use.
(b) A person commits the offense of aggravated prostitution when he or she performs or offers or consents to perform, within 500 feet of a door or window of a dwelling, any sexual act, including but not limited to sexual intercourse or sodomy, for money or other items of value.
(c) A person convicted of the offense of aggravated prostitution years shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
§ 16-6-12.1 Aggravated Pandering: (a) As used in this Code section, the term “Dwelling” means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is designed or intended for occupancy for residential use.
(b) A person commits the offense of aggravated pandering when he or she, within 500 feet of a door or window of a dwelling, solicits a person to perform an act of prostitution in his or her own behalf or in behalf of a third person or when he or she knowingly assembles persons at a fixed place for the purpose of being solicited by others to perform an act of prostitution.
(c) A person convicted of the offense of aggravated pandering years shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
Some pictures of the trans prostitute gang operating outside people’s homes:
Examples of why we need a patrol!
We recently conducted a comprehensive audit of nearly 360 individuals on our watchlist, and found quite a few in prison. Some have recently been released. We have highlighted a handful of them below, but you can view the full report here. The take-away is that these are the kinds of criminals apprearing in our neighborhood and our watchlist puts names on the many reasons that we need a patrol.
The scary part is that the 44 offenders in the report comprise only a minority of the 360 on our watchlist. And of course the watchlist consists only of those we know about. Except for an additional 35 or so currently in the Fulton County jail (separate from this report), and about 40 or so who are deceased or clearly inactive, the majority of them remain unincarcerated criminals and are active somewhere underscoring the need for Midtowners to maintain support for our patrol.
#040 – Kenneth Lamb: A psychopathic individual noted for menacing people in the community. He previously served 20 years for rape, only to go on to a li fe of street drugs. He maxed out of prison on December 13, 2013 for a terroristic threats charge, and three days later he was booked into the Fulton County jail for a probation violation. He remains in the Fulton County jail, and but we still need to watch his case closely.
#062 – William Jeffrey REESE: Back in prison - In April 2008 Jeff Reese burglarized a home on Greenwood Avenue, and then was busted the next day as he b urglarized a home in Brookhaven. He was given a ten year sentence running until 2018, but was paroled in September 2013. Before too long he was loitering again among the drug culture at Ponce & Boulevard. He was arrested for forgery, and booked into the Fulton County jail. He was given time served on the forgery charge, and Fulton County jail records show that he was handed over to the Department of Corrections. Prison records have not yet been updated, but hopefully we can forget about him at least until his max date of 2018.
#088 Jessie SANDERS: Jessie Williams, also known as Jessie Sanders, was caught breaking into a car on Nov. 11, 2013. In 2012 a pattern of chronic car break-ins developed at a member business on Ponce. We monitored the location closely, studied the pattern, staked out, and determined a time frame in which the perp struck, and identified the person to watch from that point on. Finally he was caught red-handed. He was given a sentence of five years – three years to serve, followed by two years probation. He was also doing odd-jobs for a business on Ponce, but this business will not take him back should he be released from jail. In the week between Christmas and New Years the Department of Corrections swooped into the Fulton County jail and hauled Sanders off to Coastal State Prison near Savannah. He has a max date of November 2016, and we will monitor his tentative parole date (currently no decision).
#163 – Timothy KOZAK: Major burglary perp among the “Three Burglateers” caught with the help fo Sgt. Cooper. He was tied to numerous burglaries in Midtown and Virginia Highland. He was also a known street hustler and loitered chronically in the Ponce & Boulevard area for drug-related purposes. According to street people, he is among the very worst characters among the drug and street criminal culture. So far we have been able to avert an early release for this offender – MPSA sent parole opposition to avert a November 2013 release for sentence maxing out in 2018.
#209 – Heather WHITFIELD aka “Trinity”: On parole – Heather Whitfield was a significant drug trafficker living in the 529 Ponce building, and was also notorious for trafficking stolen goods. Stories on the street about her lead us to liken her to Griselda Blanco on a small Ponce scale. A BOLO was put out for her in August 2009, and she was later found living in Dekalb County, where she was convicted of drug trafficking and sent to prison. She was paroled in December 2013, but her full sentence maxes out in August 2015. Parole board records list her as living in Suwanee.
#213 – Daniel Lee HOLT: Back on streets soon - In March 2011 Holt burglarized a residence in Midtown, and was identified through security footage on a neighbor’s home security camera. He had been seen hanging around suspiciously in the area in the days leading up to the event. He already had priors for theft and drug offenses. He maxes out of prison in March 2014.
#221 – Vincent RUTLEDGE: Gone for LIFE - In 2010 he very menacingly accosted a woman and her child as she was getting into the car. This guy reached into the car and touched the little girl. After a short stay in FC, he was released again and re-offended over and over again. He raked in 22 bookings in Fulton County alone. Then he went over to Dekalb County to rob and kidnap someone. They sent him away for life.
#325 – Jeffrey DILLS: On parole – Dills came under our radar in 2009 as a result of hanging out in the Ponce & Boulevard area among the drug culture. He has a very long arrest history in Fulton County and other places dating back to at least 1994. Cases for theft, forgery, and drug activity have also been found in Dekalb and Gwinnett Counties, and has served three prison stints in Georgia alone. Businesses on Ponce have observed him in a drunken state. He was paroled in 2013, and since then he has been seen chronically loitering in druggie hang-outs like the Ponce Hotel and in front of KROGER/Ford Facory Lofts. Wears a red coat with orange hoodie underneath on cold days. He was arrested this week for a parole violation, and is good until December 2015 if they fully revoke his parole.
The rest of the 44 from the prison & parole list are listed at the full report. The report also uses coding which sheds insights on how we assess the criminals coming around our neighborhood.
In a Nutshell:
For the closing month of 2013, your patrol logged 140 hours, during which they handled or assisted with 19 calls to 911, took an additional 8 calls directly from members via the patrol hotline, and made 2 arrests. 19 members made use of the out-of-town patrol checks.
Highlights from the patrol logs
Members should advise/warn contractors working on their house/property to secure their vehicles to guard against theft. Sgt. Cooper found a plumber’s truck wide open on 5th Street, with tools and all sorts of parts there for the taking, and spoke to the plumber who had no idea of the problems the area is facing.
Members should register their alarm systems with The City of Atlanta or face a fine.
Sgt. Cooper noted that the theft of packages delivered by UPS and FedEx slowed down this holiday season.
The Ponce Hotel has a new owner and renovations of the first floor have started.
Sgt Cooper noted that a member restaurant in the service area (Eats) recently experienced an uptick in car break-ins during lunchtime. Key contacts at APD were notified of the problem, and have been working with Sgt. Cooper on the problem.
Sgt. Cooper placed several five-day stickers on abandoned cars in the neighborhood. All were removed, and no tows were required.
12/19/2013 – Sgt. Cooper attended a court hearing with a crime victim of a major incident at her request.
12/20/2013 – Officer Powell assisted with a shooting call at Parkway and North]]>
We were elated to learn that the Ponce Hotel has sold, and it is our understanding that its current incarnation will shut down and the building revamped into student apartments. They have already started renovation work, and have already cleared out an entire floor of mostly criminals. The sale of the Ponce Hotel is the biggest shot in the arm that we’ve had in a long time. Our Patrol Coordinator has enjoyed a good relationship with the outgoing owner of the hotel, and in the background we have been able to minimize the criminal and nuisance activity surrounding that place – most notably street prostitution and drug activity. There has been some other criminal activity such as burglary and car break-ins connected with the hotel.
Most optimal has always been the final closure of this place, especially since those types of hotels are no longer a business model that works well – budget motels create a distinct set of issues for law enforcement and neighborhood groups like ours . As bad as that place is, it could have been even worse. In fact its influence on Ponce had been worse at one time.
The hotel is still partially in operation, and needless to say it still presents an ongoing maintenance issue for us. For all practical purposes we still have plenty of druggies on that block living in and revolving around the hotel in some way. That leaves quite a bit of work for us at MPSA to minimize problems radiating into the rest of our service area. While we are very optimistic about the outcome in the not-so-distant future, it’s not over until the fat lady sings…]]>
One of the potential hazards of everyday living takes place when we go to and from our cars. There is no getting around this – we all have to go to work, go shopping, and just for general reasons. While this can be a moment of heightened vulnerability, much of this can be overcome with simple situational awareness and alertness.
Street robberies take place occasionally in the neighborhood, and we even have rashes of robberies from time to time. Because so many people park on the public streets and in parking lots, criminals exploit this. Earlier this year when researching for our special report for robberies, we found that many victims were robbed as they exited from their vehicles late at night. We therefore urge that you look around the area before exiting your vehicle. Take a moment to size up anyone in the vicinity, and don’t get out of the car if something does not seem right.
The use of the dome light should be kept to a minimum, or kept off altogether. Whenever your dome light is on, it disorients and disconnects you from your surroundings and can give a potential assailant a little bit of a lead when moving in on you. Only turn it on and off manually when you really need to. Consider keeping a small, low-powered flashlight in the console of the car if you need to fumble around for something, but break that habit too. Also maintain a habit of glancing into the backseat area before entering a car to make sure nobody is in there!
Parking lots warrant a little added alertness. When going to and from your car, size up your route to your car. Be especially alert to whomever is within about 25 feet of you (we talked about the 21-foot danger zone earlier). Park in well-lit areas, and avoid isolated areas. When returning to your car have your keys ready, and develop a habit of putting your keys away in a manner where you do not have to fumble for them. The same goes for your whistle, pepper spray or handgun – keep them ever ready to be drawn and deployed from concealment. A key also makes for a good makeshift defense weapon – go for the eyes and draw blood. If you find yourself in a self defense situation make lots of noise to draw attention to the situation – scream, yell, hit the panic button on your car, etc.
Again, be very cautious with people approaching you in the parking lot. Nobody needs candy, cookies, magazines, or religion badly enough to put themselves at added risk. Be especially cautious with people asking for assistance with jumping a car or some other similar issue that could be a ruse to distract you – the linked video shows you why. For that matter keep jumper cables in the trunk or otherwise well-concealed – that way they cannot say, “I see you’ve got jumper cables.” Again, giving yourself options is the key strategy in personal safety and defense. And do not cave in to the fix-your-car scammers running around town. Let a security officer or store manager know if you are approached by suspicious individuals in their parking lot – call AAA or Midtown Tire if you car does not start. Call MPSA Patrol, Midtown Blue, on-site security, etc. and let them know that someone claims to need help.
If you think you are being followed while driving, do not head home. Go to a safer location instead, with lots of people and where you can draw attention to yourself. Know your route to a fire station, to Midtown Blue, or some other safe place likely to have police officers. When going to the bank to get large amounts of cash take a roundabout way to your next stop. Cut through a low-traffic residential area on your way. Several years ago a manager of a business in the neighborhood went to a bank at Ansley Mall, and then to another place or two before going to the McDonald’s on Cheshire Bridge where he was robbed. The assailants saw him leave the bank with a money bag, and followed him the entire time along Monroe, Piedmont, and Cheshire Bridge before seizing the opportunity to make their move at McDonald’s. Doing a loop through Morningside or Ansley Park would have increased the chances that he would have spotted someone following him.
The video with this installment of Prepared & Protected features a scenario in which a criminal poses as someone needing a jump start. This kind of a ruse is very effective in making you vulnerable to a robbery or assault. Other variants included keys locked in a car, in which they distract you by having you get something out of your car like a coathanger. Be very cautious and attentive to details in those scenarios. We’ve got plenty of harmless-looking but very dangerous criminals around that would do this – the druggies at Ponce & Boulevard, the trans prostitute gang, and street hustlers to name a few.
As we’ve pointed out before, having a neighborhood patrol greatly enhances the benefits of being prepared, and reduces the likelihood that we will have to deploy self-defense skills. The more patrol hours we can implement, the more effectively we can cut down on the unsavory characters that would bring harm to you. The neighborhood patrol serves as the backbone of a safe neighborhood. We want Midtowners to be well prepared & protected…
APD works very diligently on these kinds of cases, but the wild card is always what will happen in court. In researching his history, we find 27 prior arrests in the Fulton County jail alone, and a brief prison sentence several years ago. The most serious of his arrests generally took place after his prison stint, and it seems that Fulton County sentenced him more leniently to the degree his criminal activity became more serious.
Hopefully he is toast this time, and we will court-watch him very proactively. We have posted his mugshot at the web version of this post.
Hosea Smith aka “Peaches,” was released from prison in Florida on 6/30/13, and came back to Atlanta. He was out in the trans area regularly during the summer. Not even two months later, on 8/18/13, he was back in jail for drug offenses along with warrants in Clark and Douglas Counties. On 11/08 he was booked back into the FC jail on failure to appear warrants. It is not clear if he ever was released to the street from any of those other jails – we suspect he was handed back to Fulton once the other places were done with him. He remains in jail not eligible for bond, and we are hoping that the Department of Corrections will be coming for him soon.
Ralph Odom made the news this week (AJC and Midtown Patch covered the story), when he got into a car with a stranger during the 4am hour and ended up getting shot on St. Charles. We all know who’s bad about getting into cars with strangers in the wee hours of the morning so we checked out the story. We find that Odom is among the trans prostitute gang, and has a history of vice arrests. He told police that he was walking home from the store, but we find that he somehow got stuck in the trans prostitute area for a couple hours. He was seen turning tricks during the two-hour period leading up to the incident. Showing a mugshot to some of the trans prostitutes the next night, we further confirmed that he was out turning tricks that night. A neighbor living at the crime scene found a freshly used condom on his porch, and this is not an area where prostitutes routinely service their johns any more. This unfortunate incident shows what street prostitutes draw into the neighborhood.
Dennis Stallings – Score a big one for the law abiding folks in the community. Remember the rash of robberies back in February? Well, that thug got bundled up and shipped off for good. The primary suspect, Dennis Stallings was handed 5 life sentences for several charges arising out of this incident. One of the attorneys from the Fulton DA’s office reported on her Facebook profile that both Stallings and his mother exhibited “anger and loss of temper” in the court room before Judge Kelly Amanda Lee handed down the sentence. A Midtowner summed it nicely on his Facebook profile: KARMA is when a guy decides to spend 2 hours of his life to do 5 armed drive-by muggings, 3 of them in Midtown, and gets caught by APD red-handed by a victim’s Find-My-iPhone app. JUSTICE is that in just 30 minutes, a jury sent him to no-parole prison for 5 life terms.
Donald Rayfield, known as “Ray-Ray” on the street, was recently locked up for possession of meth and shoplifting. Rayfield is a known street hustler and convicted burglar occasionally seen in the Ponce & Boulevard area. Despite his extensive prison record in South Carolina and Georgia, and chronic arrest history here, he was given another slap on the hand. Fulton County gave him probation for the possession of meth (on top of existing probation), and time served on the shoplifting charge. He was in jail a month.
Jeffrey Dills was recently paroled from prison, and wasted no time getting back to the drug life at Ponce & Boulevard. He is seen loitering among the druggies around that intersection, and came to our attention as a result of suspicious and nuisance activity. We have advised numerous businesses of his presence, and have been in contact with his parole officer. He has 22 entries in the Fulton County jail alone, for all kinds of offenses including Entering Auto, Forgery, and drug offense. His parole record shows a Macon address, but is supposed to be transferring to the Atlanta area office. He usually wears a red coat, but in warmer weather one can see he is all tatted up like a methhead felon.
We got word that Brandon Burchfield will not be recycled through the drug court program for the umpteenth time. The ADA handling the case has reviewed his history, and because of his demonstrated incorrigibility , drug court will be a no-go this time. We received another report from someone in the neighborhood that hired him for yard work that he went into the house and stole some items including an iPad before skipping out without finishing the work he was paid for.
Jessie Williams, also known as Jessie Sanders, was finally caught breaking into a car this week. Last year a pattern of chronic car break-ins developed at a member business on Ponce. We monitored the location closely, studied the pattern, and determined a time frame in which the perp struck. During a stake-out, he was about to break into a car when he suddenly noticed he was being watched. While nothing happened that night, we had identified the person to watch from that point on. We watched him closely for 15 months, and noticed that the break-in pattern coincided perfectly with times he was not in jail.
Last Sunday night into Monday (11/11) a customer of the business left a vehicle overnight, and we watched it closely. Jessie Williams was spotted crouched behind that car at 5am, and fled as his presence on that property was investigated . A police unit was coincidentally driving along Ponce at that moment and stopped him for suspicious person running, and we we immediately alerted them that their subject had just broken into a car. Further, the car had been check ten minutes earlier and was known to be OK at that point. Upon arrest, he fought very violently with the police. Like so many other criminals, he has a very long rap sheet in Fulton County and with the Department of Corrections. He was booked on a number of charges arising from this incident – Entering Vehicle, Battery with substantial harm, and Obstruction. Once at the jail he generated another charge – attempting to remove weapon from a public official.
He was also working for a business on Ponce, but this business will not take him back should he be released from jail. He remains in jail as of this writing ineligible for bond. We have been waiting on this arrest for a long time…
Remember the Taxi driver lured to the Peachtree-Pine “shelter” and robbed, and the other situation when another person was stabbed outside of the building? One of our APD contacts shared another story today about that place, and pointed out that this suspect is a regular at Peachtree-Pine. This example adds to the many we hear about ”the shelter” on a regular basis.
[Report edited to redact name of victim] On Friday, November 15, 2013, an APD patrol officer witnessed an attempted larceny at 550 Peachtree St. while working a traffic accident scene at that location. The victim had cleaned out her belongings from her undrivable vehicle so the tow company could pick it up and placed the following items on the sidewalk in between her feet so she could sign the citation: a bag containing an Apple IPad valued at $750.00, a purse containing an iPhone 4 valued at $300.00, a dog bed, a bag containing other miscellaneous work papers. As the victim was signing the ticket, the arrestee, later identified as Mr. Frank A. McMillan, ran up in between [Victim] and and the police and picked up all of her items in his arms and attempted to flee. The officer promptly arrested Mr. McMillan and placed him in custody. All items were returned to Ms. Victim intact. Mr. McMillan was charged with Theft by Taking 16-8-2.
So far there is no end to the Peachtree-Pine mess in sight. As AJC put it in a headline, Anita Beaty & Co. remain defiant. According to their report, the “Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless,” was scheduled for a court hearing a couple weeks ago to challenge their impending eviction, but this has been put off until February. In the meantime, their debt continues to soar, and even the queenpin of the massive haven of drug activity and street crime acknowledged around $2 Million in debt for this racket. This includes the water bill, which was a six-digit figure last we heard. By comparison, virtually nobody else in the city gets away with not paying the water bill. It is quite routine for the city to shut off the water over petty amounts in arears. At least until then, all kinds of criminal activity radiating from that warehouse will continue to thrive…
In a Nutshell:
From the patrol logs:
Sgt Cooper assisted with the arrest of Nakia Graham on an outstanding warrant. Sgt Cooper was working on another job when he heard a call over police radio of a wanted person sighted at 8th & Glendale. Sgt Cooper contacted the responding officers and warned them it was most likely Nakia Graham wanted in Fulton County for Stalking and Aggravated Stalking. Police intercepted Graham, but the warrant was not yet in the system. Sgt. Cooper advised that he had a paper copy of the warrant which had been arranged by our community prosecutor. Once Sgt. Cooper reached the scene with the warrant, Graham was taken to jail, where he remains as of this writing.
Sgt. Cooper and Sgt. McGinnis patrolled for MPSA during the annual Trick or Treat Halloween celebration in the 6th & Penn area.
Sgt Cooper made several calls to Georgia DOC Probation officers regarding several offenders including Jeff Reese.
Three of the four arrests were trans prostitutes. Tony Thompson, among the trans prostitute gang, was arrested by the patrol while loitering around for a city violation. Upon a search incident to the arrest he was found to have enough little liquor bottles to open a mobile liquor store. See picture at web version of this post. We previously reported on the arrests of Kyle Hamp and Justin Williams. This was also fewer arrests this time, which gives us an inkling of hope that the trans gang is getting the message. If they would only take it a step further and quit inflicting their criminal activity upon our neighborhood…
The only other arrest by the patrol was John Dingus – that was for panhandling at a business on Ponce. He has been in and out of jail 24 times in Fulton County alone – for auto theft, car break-ins, drug activity, burglary, and the whole works. We have been seeing him around Ponce & Boulevard for years. He was previously staying at an area motel, but was put out when we furnished criminal history along with reports of chronic criminal & nuisance activity in the area.
As the old saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. This week we offer a potpourri of ways to prevent security issues on the exterior of our properties, including landcaping and lighting.
The exterior of your home should be well-lit, but the lighting does not have to be bright or obtrusive. Just enough light to see whether someone is around. Consider using colored lighting which is not nearly as obtrusive as bright white lights – green works well especially with trees and vegetation. Motion sensors are also effective because you can tell immediately when someone trips the light. CFL bulbs are far more energy-efficient than the traditional incandecent bulbs.
Shrubbery should be designed so as not to effectively conceal intruders – keep all windows exposed to plain view. Bushes should either be no more than about 24 inches in height, or trimmed up at least 18 inches so a casual observer can readily see feet hiding behind them. Ladders and other aids for climbing should not be left in the yard. When you are out of town, arrange to have signs of absence removed from your yard. Accumulation of newspapers in the driveway, pizza flyers staying on the front door for days on end, and trash recepticles still at the street two days after pickup send a clear signal that nobody is home.
Occasionally check your property for things stashed. The trans prostitutes, for example, are notorious for stashing weapons in shrubbery along with personal belongings and illegal drugs. Criminals breaking into cars will often take stolen bags to people’s yards to pick out from the loot, and then abandon the bag and its unwanted contents. If you find illegal drugs or firearms, do not touch those. In the case of illegal drugs, you would be in violation of the law by handling those, and a firearm may have been used in a crime. Notify the police immediately and watch the area if safe to do so. Knives and other weapons should be secured immediately and reported to the police. If you find loot, or signs of urban camping, please let us know so we can check it out and engage the most appropriate parties to deal with those. Personal belongings left by prostitutes and other street people should be put on the sidewalk or discarded (do not sift through contents – remove as-is) to make it clear you don’t want them using your property.
If you hear unusual noise outside your home, you should immediately investigate but be extremely careful about going outside in such a situation. Make sure you have a good view of all the nooks and crannies before going outside to investigate. It would probably be better not to go outside if you have not determined the source of concern – call the police or the patrol instead. We live in a busy and dynamic neighborhood and that is often why we like living here, but we also have a steady stream of prowlers and other undesirable elements roaming around the neighborhood – day and night. Some are even downright dangerous.
We leave you with a video depicting a dangerous trespasser situation. Like the other episodes of The Best Defense that we have shown you, it starts with the worst-case outcome, and works its way to a more optimal outcome – the intruder simply fleeing when motion-sensor lights come on. In such a scenario the perp could either be targeting you specifically, or could be fleeing from police canvassing the area.
Of course your neighborhood patrol reduces the likelihoood of encountering issues like these. Higher membership support increases patrol hours that cut down on the myriad of public security issues in the neighborhood. The more patrol hours we can fund, the more effectively we can target chronic street criminals and watch for random ones. And members should always take advantage of home checks while out of town (details at our website). We want Midtowners to be well prepared & protected…
Some volunteers went to the Allan Goddard jury trial yesterday morning, and gave us this report. Allen Goddard was arrested several weeks ago in Old Fourth Ward, and has been known to be active in Midtown, Virginia Highland, Old Fourth Ward, and other neighborhoods. Now he is being held for pick-up by the Department of Corrections once they determine the most appropriate prison for him.
You remember that Goddard was the one that got nabbed on Glen Iris back in September and had a hearing a couple of weeks ago where he pled guilty and then decided he wanted a jury trial instead as is his right. He might as well have just accepted the judge’s sentence rather than just prolonging the agony as the jury returned a “guily” verdict in record time. Judge Hicks still gave him the same five to serve sentence as well as a banishment from Zone 6. He gave a sob story as to how he wants to do better in life, but is addicted to crack cocaine and just can’t help himself. Of course, he just wanted to get probation and get recycled through the drug program for the umpteenth time – but Judge Hicks reminded him that he is still on probation from a previous sentence. Hicks did give him his 12 month sentence for probation violation rolled into his 5 years though. Zone 6 Community Prosecutor Keith Lamar did a very good job of presenting the state’s argument, along with help from another ADA (name unclear).
That leaves one car break-in perp down, a bunch more to go…]]>