Decatur Commission To Discuss Crime Spike

The commission has asked the staff for an update on what's being done to stop the spate of robberies.

The Decatur City Commission plans to talk Monday night about the city's recent spate of street crime.

Mayor Jim Baskett said in an email to Patch,

"I think I speak for all of us on the City Commission when I say that we are very troubled by recent events." Some of the police department's efforts can't be revealed, he wrote, but "We have asked the staff to bring us an update on our efforts and will have that discussion at our meeting on April 15. I hope all interested parties will attend."

Since Feb. 7, police have reported seven robberies in the city. Six were armed robberies, including one restaurant holdup and four incidents in which men stole from women pedestrians.

Patch readers have complained the city government and police have done a bad job of communicating with the public about the crimes. A reader identified as N.G. commented Friday on a story about cell phones being stolen:

What I'd like to see is a meaningful, comprehensive and more timely answer from Chief [Mike] Booker regarding what he and his department are doing to address the increase in crime. Hey folks, wake up, this is serious stuff that is happening. It IS NOT just a perception that crime is growing.

A reader identified as decfamily made this comment on the story about the Wahoo! Grill robbery:

With the high taxes I think people expect a level of service and communication and I've always heard good things about the Decatur police - just wondering what their communication channels are. Also are there any security patrols to join?

Police sent out a press release March 18 after the fourth armed robbery, but none since.

Last week Patch asked the chief to discuss the department's crime-fighting strategy, but Booker said he can't talk about it until City Manager Peggy Merriss returns from a conference.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in city hall. Residents can watch the meeting on live streaming video on their home computers by going to the city website.

The commission meeting will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 25 and rebroadcast at 2 p.m. Saturday.


Ellen B. Winn April 15, 2013 at 02:02 PM
The meeting starts at 7:30 but on what date?
Ralph Ellis April 15, 2013 at 02:12 PM
The meeting is tonight, Monday, April 15.
A Question April 15, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Chief Booker and his senior staff have spoken specifically about this situation at several neighborhood association meetings throughout the city since this spike occured. Additionally as a regular course of their duties, police officers regulary attend neighborhood meetings to discuss crime, answer questions, and review activity in the city. Just because they are not responding to anonymous blogs doesn't mean they aren't doing their job or not communicating about an active situation. For that matter, how many police chievs give out their cellphones? Yes, this is something Chief Booker does on a regular basis.
John T. Hoyle April 15, 2013 at 11:43 PM
THE STREAMING SOUND VOLUME IS REALLY LOW... they need to turn up the mics.
Stacy H Holloway April 16, 2013 at 03:09 PM
I think that "A Question" makes some good points. Chief Booker has always been up front and willing to talk with the residents of Decatur. I lived in Decatur for over 20 years and nothing like this "spree" has happened in recent memory. I am guessing that the major changes in administration and location for the Police Dept has made it tough to respond as in the past. In the minutes from the City Commisioners Meeting Jan 22, 2013, it was reported that: "City Manager Merriss stated that Tony Parker had retired as the Assistant City Manager – Emergency Services on December 31, 2012 and that his responsibilities had been divided among several staff members, therefore the position would not be filled at this time." So since Jan 1, 2013, Decatur does not have an Asst City Manager whose duties are Emergency Service. Those duties have been spread out among other Asst City Managers. That leaves a hole in leadership in Emergency Services...couple that with the rennovation of the Police Dept and the dispersal of the various elements of the Police Dept to 3 different locations (seriously) which are not well advertised and you are asking for criminals to make Decatur their new home. When I moved away from Decatur 2 years ago, there were cops on motorcycles, cops on bicycles, cops on foot and cops in cars...a very visible police presence. Where are these folks? Have the "cutbacks" at the City level reduced the effectiveness of the police?


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