New Police Substation Benefits BusinessesPosted: March 6, 2012
The Athens Clarke Police Department opened its new Downtown Athens Substation just over 15 months ago. Its new location sits on College Avenue, a central Athens location. When it opened, police were optimistic of the effect it would have on crime
The move from the old substation on East Washington has given many businesses in Athens a sense of security to businesses and has enabled the police to better provide services. It has enabled Athens police to more effectively make their presence felt in the downtown area.
The rate of crime in Athens has been relatively constant over the years. Athens experienced a strong reduction in violent crimes in every category except vehicle theft in 2010 from the 2009 numbers.
The records show that some of the reduction in crime can be attributed to 2009 being an exceptional year of crime, but in some statistics, 2010 was unrivaled for the past five years. Larceny has dropped 33% since 2006. Robbery and rape also saw a five year low.
The police substation cannot be the reason for all of the reductions in crime, but it has allowed police to make their presence felt.
Kenneth Brown, a sergeant in the Athens Clarke County police department, told the Athens Banner Herald at the station’s opening in 2010, “It’s a great station that’s boosted officer’s morale, and it’s basically in the heart of downtown where a lot of business owners are happy to see us.”
He also told the Athens Banner Herald that the old station was a detriment to the police due to low visibility.
The new substation is well labeled an easily visible from a distance.
Many business leaders have become dependent on the substation for a sense of security. Mike Bradshaw, the owner of the Grit- a diner open 24 hours a day-, relies on the substation for the late night crowds that visit his establishment.
His establishment does not have bouncers or security guards. He felt like they would be more harm than good.
“We thought about it. It will never, never happen.”
Bradshaw was worried that the site of bouncers would cause more trouble and could potentially hurt business.
He instructs his late night employees instead to screen the customers as they wait to be seated though.
In the case of trouble though, Bradshaw relies on the substation located less than a block away. When trouble arises, managers have been instructed to send a runner to the substation for help.
The running time from the Grit to the substation is about 15 seconds at most.
Employees of Waffle House were impressed with the response time of the police. One employee said that he could expect to wait several hours for the police to show up in some places in Atlanta.
The new substation also offers easier handling of the patrolling of Athens. There are usually officers on foot and on bike patrolling. The busiest times are on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights for most of the nights.
Police gather at several locations for observation of the crowds on these nights. Several intersections are usually prime targets for the police to watch for signs of trouble. The intersections of Broad Street and Jackson Street, College Avenue and Broad Street, Clayton Street and College Avenue, and Jackson Street and Clayton Street.
Also, there is typically two officers and usually more at 166 East Clayton Street. This sets up a square of observation posts that can all be easily reached by any substation backup with great speed.
One bouncer at the popular bar Magnolias said if trouble ever arises, he expects the police to be there within about 30 seconds.
The increased police presence has allowed the police and businessmen to work together in other ways.
Bradshaw recounted an incident when students started protesting outside of his restaurant one day. The police asked the protesters to leave in a professional fashion that left Bradshaw impressed.
The Lazy Shopper also benefits from police presence. Clerks there usually see the police stop in a couple of times a day. Their proximity helps limit any shoplifting.
The police solution of opening up a more open and mobile police situation will have effects on the downtown for years to come.