Maj. Van Hobbs was named the Atlanta Police Department's in late April. While he is still new to the position, he took time to speak with Buckhead Patch on Monday to respond to concerns voiced by our readers. He also talked about his first few weeks on the job and what he sees as the biggest crime related issues facing Buckhead.
On recent burglaries in North Buckhead:
Hobbs said that while burglaries have indeed been up in the last several weeks, burglaries are down 11-percent overall and down eight-percent from the same time period last year.
The way that Hobbs is choosing to deal with burglaries and specifically those in North Buckhead is by utilizing "Impact Teams and Crime Suppression Units — plain clothed officers that work undercover and are more discrete that catch burglars off gaurd.
"We look at the crime patterns and try to find the dates and the times when the burglaries are taking place then we put those units there. I send them out into the field in the problems areas and they make a difference."
On the recent increase in vehicle larcenies in Buckhead:
While Zone 2 is considered one of Atlanta's lower crime areas, vehicle larcenies have been up recently. More often than not, this "crime of opportunity" is committed by criminals looking for items plainly visible in cars.
"We have on video individuals breaking in cars and you see them looking for items inside the cars. If a car has nothing visible they go right on by."
This fact is stressed in the APD's "Clean Car Campaign," which encourages drivers to not leave valuable items inside their cars. Criminals come to Buckhead looking for items like IPods, IPads and GPS units.
"A lot of the individuals that we catch aren't from the area. They are coming up from other parts of the city or even out of the city. If you are going to go hunting, wouldn't you want to go where you have a target rich environment?"
Hobbs stressed that people keep the serial numbers for their items and keep them at home, which can help in recovering the items should they be stolen.
Speeding on Wieuca Rd:
Hobbs said that this was the first he had heard of a problem on Wieuca Road, but that he would take a similar approach to other problem areas his officers have dealt with.
Increased concentrations of law enforcement have been present at Northside Drive between Collier Road and I-75. Howell Mill is another problem area, he said.
"Traffic is a nightmare," Hobbs said. "You try to get somewhere and it takes a while to get there. People try to find other ways to get to other locations and speed through other locations to makeup for lost time. Its a safety issue and that is what the enforcement is for."
Hobbs said evening and day watch shifts have a presence in these problem areas with speed detection devices and that once drivers start slowing down, police will move on to spots like Wieuca Road.
"We stay out there for a while and show people our presence."
In the meantime, officers will be on the lookout for speeders on Wieuca Road before a concentrated effort is made.
Officers in Zone 2 certainly aren't shy about writing traffic tickets. 873 were wrote just last week Hobbs said, up 40-percent from last year.
On the Zone 2 Precinct relocating:
Hobbs acknowledged that there had been chatter of police in Zone 2 needing more space at the precinct. While this doesn't necessarily mean relocating, it could mean an expansion of the existing building on Maple Drive.
"Right now there is nothing on the drawing board for us to move but in the future I can't really say. Do I want to leave this area? No. I like being in the center, where we are in this location."
On how he is acclimating to the new position:
"Its been a lot of long days, he said. "I stay overnight in my office two nights a week."
Hobbs pointed around the room to where he has items for an overnight stay. Making sure he is available and visible to all officers on all shifts is important to him, despite the fact that he is working long hours.
"I want all the officers to know me and feel comfortable around me and let them know that they can talk to me about everything. My door is open so that they can talk to me, not just to talk about crime but to get to know them and let them know that i care about them. i care about their families and whats going on around them."
On the main crime related issues facing Buckhead:
Hobbs said that while violent crimes are rare in the Buckhead community, property crime is very prevalent.
"Our largest problem we are having right now is the property crime issue," he explained. "Don't make yourself a victim by being oblivious as to what is going on around you."
Seventy-percent of crime in Buckhead is of the larceny variety, Hobbs said — whether it be vehicles or random purse snatchings.