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Decatur City Commission approves agreement with DDA for downtown security services

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Decatur City Commission approves agreement with DDA for downtown security services

The Decatur City Commission discussed downtown security and a memorandum of understanding with the Decatur Arts Alliance during its regular meeting on Monday, April 17, at City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its April 17 regular meeting, approved a memorandum of understanding with the Decatur Downtown Development Authority to hire off-duty police officers to provide supplemental security and law enforcement services within downtown Decatur. The program will begin on Tuesday, April 18.

The DDA approved a resolution supporting the memorandum of understanding at its meeting on Friday, April 14. 

“Due to staffing shortages in the Decatur Police Department, the city is unable to adequately meet the need for police officers in the downtown business district at this time,” Deputy City Manager David Junger said. “This program would provide security and patrol services in the downtown business district during peak hours.”

Officers will be on patrol on foot from 5:30 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. The pilot program will run for four months. 

Some of the duties and responsibilities of the officers would include monitoring radio traffic, responding to calls for service downtown, and engaging in “activities, which [include] addressing ordinances and laws related to smoking in public places, loitering, littering, urban camping, aggressive panhandling, drugs and improper disposal of waste,” Junger said. 

The Decatur Police Department will publicize the program, identify interested officers, perform background checks, and orient officers to their responsibilities and shifts. Decatur Police would also run reports on incidents.

The police department and DDA will only hire officers for the pilot program who are actively working for a police department, Decatur Police Chief Scott Richards previously said.

The program will be staffed by off-duty officers from various law enforcement agencies, including the Decatur Police Department. The city will also reach out to officers with the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb Marshal’s Office and Agnes Scott who work special events for Decatur.

“Ideally, we’d like to be able to fill these particular shifts with our officers and our current special event officers. If that did not happen, then we would reach out and make it available to other agencies…,” Richards said.

The city and the DDA are aiming to have a core group of officers working the Square and downtown area who will get to know the community and the business owners.

The DDA and the city will evaluate the program on an ongoing basis.

“Proposed measurements to determine whether the program has been successful include how many calls for service they’re managing, feedback from local business owners, and during the final month of the program, the DDA and the police department would review the weekly measurements, evaluate the overall pilot and decide if and how to continue the program,” Junger said.

Richards added that the police department is working to get back to having two or three officers permanently assigned to the Square.

City Manager Andrea Arnold added that the DDA and the city agreed that the goal is for this to be a temporary program.

“Our goal is that ultimately we will get to the point where we can fill those assignments,” Arnold said. “We hate to say it, but right now we just cannot meet the need that exists today. I think this is going to be an effective solution.”

In other business: 

– The city commission amended an MOU with the Decatur Arts Alliance to support the public art program at Sam’s Village Crossing, the mixed-use development anchored by Publix on East Ponce de Leon Avenue. The amendment extends the timeframe for installing the three art sculptures from June 30 to Dec. 31, Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said.

Threadgill also serves on the Decatur Arts Alliance board.

The developer contributed $250,000 to the public art program for the project and granted the city a license agreement for at least five years to install and maintain public art on the site.

“Taking into consideration the timeline for public art program development, a call for artists, and evaluation of submittals, selection, site preparation, fabrication, and installation of public art, the Decatur Arts Alliance requests additional time to achieve the expected quality of a successful public art program,” Threadgill wrote in a memo. “Therefore, the request is to extend the install-by date to no later than December 31, 2023. All remaining terms and conditions of the MOU would remain of full force and effect.”

– The city commission approved an alcoholic beverage license for Takumi Cuisine, which will be opening at 250 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue. The space was formerly Ren by Budi’s and Atlantic noodles. 

The restaurant will feature sushi, rice bowls, and ramen bowls as part of its menu items for lunch and dinner. The owners were seeking an alcoholic beverage license for beer, wine, and spirituous liquor beverages for consumption on premises.

– The city has been awarded a grant of $170,000 from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to support the curbside composting pilot program, Energy and Sustainability Manager David Nifong said.

– Decatur is working with Georgia Power to replace 190 light fixtures throughout the city, especially in downtown Decatur. The lights will be installed in a few rounds, and the first round includes 60 lights. 

– ”Spring cleaning” will begin in downtown Decatur on Tuesday, April 18, with the pressure washing of the Square, sidewalks, trash cans, and signage, Arnold said. The work will take about two weeks. 

– Arnold also announced that the artwork in Oakhurst Village will be temporarily removed soon to be cleaned and repainted. She added that the goal is to have the art piece return to Oakhurst in the summer. 

– The city of Decatur and City Schools of Decatur are kicking off the design process for the track and field project slated for Legacy Park. An open house will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, in Hawkins Dining Hall at Legacy Park, 500 S. Columbia Drive.

Breedlove Land Planning of Atlanta will lead the planning and design effort for the track and field. The new track and field were identified as a community priority in the 2018 Legacy Park master plan.

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