Frequently Asked Questions
We have outlined the basics of what we do on the other pages, but here are some additional explanations based on frequent questions that we receive…
MPSA MEMBER AND COMMUNITY SERVICES
Home vacation check – Members leaving town can request that the patrol check on their homes during their absence. The off-duty officers working for us will look over the property from the street and check for visible signs of absence, such as door flyers, trash receptacles left at the street, newspapers in the driveway. To the extent possible, officers will walk the property to conceal signs of absence. Officers may walk around to the rear of the property but will not enter the home. The officers do not take trash to the curb, feed and tend to animals, and generally will not open gates. Trusted volunteers may assist at times, though volunteer assistance is generally limited to a drive- or walk-by). By and large, these are conducted by the patrol officers.
Safety Meetings – We no longer hold regularly-scheduled monthly safety meetings. We hold public safety meetings only on an ad-hoc basis. When needed, we may also coordinate or assist with special meetings with residents of a small area to discuss specific problems limited to a portion of the neighborhood (as opposed to the neighborhood as a whole).
Eye on Midtown and other e-blasts – We send out an electronic newsletter – about every week to ten days on average – known as Eye on Midtown. We have no set frequency – we publish it only as needed. By way of Eye on Midtown, we inform the community about crime data, patrol activity, crime incidents in the neighborhood, problematic individuals, and MPSA happenings such as social events. We publish most Eye content on the website, under the heading Latest Bulletins on a side panel of all pages. We also send out alerts as needed.
Do MPSA membership dues include membership in the MNA, or vice-versa? – No. They are separate neighborhood organizations. The MNA covers a wide range of general neighborhood interests while MPSA focuses exclusively on public safety issues with emphasis on funding and maintaining the neighborhood patrol. Each organization exists and operates independently with its own board of directors, membership drive, and scope of responsibility to the neighborhood. We encourage you to support BOTH important neighborhood organizations.
Patrol officers – We have given our patrol coordinator complete discretion over the selection and scheduling of patrol officers. We only approve funding for off-duty Atlanta Police officers. We do not hire law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions/agencies, and we do not hire security officers (our bylaws preclude funding any other form of paid patrolling). Our budget is devoted exclusively to the operation of the MPSA Patrol as described in the foregoing sentences, with all other MPSA functions carried out by volunteers only.
Patrol practices – We provide the officers with a service area map, a schedule, a vehicle, and reports from the community. From there they work as a bona fide community patrol under the color of law enforcement. Therefore the patrol officers follow APD policies and priorities and work in accordance with laws and regulations pertaining to law enforcement, which take precedent over our priorities.
Neighborhood watch - We do not find it necessary to manage a organized, structured program with block captains, etc. Instead, we call upon every one of us living and working in the neighborhood to get to know our neighbors, and to be observant and responsive. If you see suspicious activity, report it to the police without delay. Unkempt public property should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unkempt private property should be reported to email@example.com. Those wishing to clean up and maintain a piece of public property, such as the nice neighbors who landscape and mow the islands (take time to thank them, by the way!) along some of our neighborhood streets, should consider pursuing the Adopt-A-Spot program through the Department of Public (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please keep us abreast on what you are seeing and reporting.
Social Services - The MPSA does not oppose social services operating and serving people on the street as long as the activity does not undermine quality of life, public safety, and good public order in the service area. Specifically, we find that activities like street feeding merely perpetuate life on the streets and the inevitably resulting criminal and nuisance activity. Those wishing to help others in need should work within the coordinated framework of the Atlanta Gateway Center, and contribute to an improvement in those valuable services. It is important to note that there are some services around that do wonderful work for those in true need, and do not generate adversity to the safety and good public order of the community in which we live.
We report criminal and nuisance activity to police and/or prosecutors. Depending on the situation, this could be the MPSA patrol officers, the Atlanta Police Department, Code Enforcement, and/or the District Attorney’s office. These agencies naturally work from a law enforcement standpoint when dealing with problematic individuals and groups, but they sometimes seek a diversion through the Atlanta Gateway Center and similar services. The decision then rests with police & prosecutors as to whether a social services strategy best serves and protects the community in a given case – we just want all criminal and nuisance activity to go away for good.
The MPSA watchlist - We keep a watchlist of criminals and other problematic individuals coming to our attention via patrol logs, police reports, field observations, and information coming from residents and businesses. Once an individual is on the watchlist, we work on identifying them, and then assess the seriousness of their profile based on factors like:
- Violent crimes against persons (not only in the service area but in very nearby areas (including the entire Northeast portion of the Beltline trail)
- Property Crimes within the MPSA service area (like burglary, car break-ins, and theft)
- Street prostitution and street-level drug activity (such activity taking place in the residential area is treated with heightened sensitivity)
- Chronic urban camping and nuisance loitering in the service area
- Patterns of threatening and menacing conduct toward service area residents, businesses, and visitors
Once an individual is put on the watchlist, our goal is then to devise strategies to efficiently and effectively terminate their detrimental effects upon the Midtown community. Depending on the circumstances our strategies usually involve a mix of the our neighborhood patrol, Atlanta Police Department, Code Enforcement, the DA’s office, and other agencies and organizations. We often share intel with key contacts at other neighborhood groups and patrols.
We monitor Fulton County jail logs almost daily, and other jails (especially Dekalb County) quite regularly. If a watchlisted individual appearing on jail logs is known to be on felony probation or on parole, we contact the appropriate agency in hopes of triggering revocation proceedings. We have managed to get rid of a few that way. If in prison, we sometimes contact the parole board to thwart parole or early release in order to protect the neighborhood as long as possible. We often consult with our community prosecutor to determine feasibility for court watch and other action to address that individual. In short, we are out to do something about those inflicting criminal activity upon the Midtown community, both individually and collectively.
The most common sources of our information used in researching criminals on our watchlist:
- The Fulton County jail website (Jailbase provides a good daily overview going back 6 months)
- The Georgia Department of Corrections
- Dekalb County jail records (Dekalbmugs.com provides good daily and weekly overview)
- APD Vice Arrests page (discontinued, but was a great tool to identify problematic individuals)
- The sex offender registry
- Parole board database
Occasionally we get information that an individual has engaged in criminal activity elsewhere, and will check for jail and prison records in those states and jurisdictions, if available online. As a rule, the Atlanta Police cannot furnish official criminal histories except directly to the patrol officers for their use only. We occasionally submit open-records requests on problematic individuals, and in some instances we conduct a paid search if an individual’s profile is serious enough. Sometimes people who know an individual from elsewhere (including previous victims, schoolmates from old times, and even estranged friends and family members) will find them written up on our website, and will share insights with us. By and large, we find publicly available records (especially police reports) to be sufficiently useful in assessing the risk posed to the neighborhood.
Meaning of the MPSA logo - The green blocks stand for the Midtown area with its magnificent trees, beautiful homes, its walkability, and a true neighborhood lifestyle – the things we cherish most about living here. Midtown’s color is green. The white grid stands for the safe pedestrian-oriented streets of Midtown (i.e. the sidewalks, not black asphalt), and the thicker white part at the bottom represents a Ponce de Leon Avenue transformed from an isolated boundary street fraught with seediness, criminal elements, and suburban & vehicle-oriented land-use patterns – to an urban, pedestrian-oriented gateway street well-integrated into the Midtown experience & way of life. The surrounding blue circle reminds us that law abiding citizens in their diversity are entitled to a safe haven in which to live, work, play, shop, dine, and pursue entertainment and recreation. In short, the MPSA focuses on public safety & security issues with vision of a much greater Midtown experience in mind…
OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATIONS
Midtown Neighbors Association (MNA) - The MNA represents the general interests of the greater Midtown community, and designates a representative on the City of Atlanta’s NPU system. The MNA maintains various committees addressing specific types of issues like land use, liquor license, and neighborhood beautification. The MNA also puts together social activities such as the annual Spaghetti supper, holiday parties, and the Midtown Tour of Homes. Website: www.midtownatlanta.org
Midtown Alliance – Midtown Alliance manages the Midtown Improvement District, a zoning overlay covering the Peachtree/West Peachtree/Spring Street corridor. Roughly their service area lies from Juniper Street westward, plus the immediate vicinity of 10th & Piedmont. They operate a number of services in the public space, including a public safety patrol with off-duty officers known as Midtown Blue. A special tax assessed to property owners within the boundaries of the Midtown Improvement District funds Midtown Blue and other services provided by Midtown Alliance. Because of the way they are funded, they are unable to expand their services into the residential area of Midtown – hence the emergence of the MPSA to cover the rest of Midtown. Their service area does contain a small overlap with ours. Both our patrol and theirs engage in a good bit of coordination and cooperation. For more information about Midtown Blue and other Midtown Alliance services please contact Midtown Alliance directly.