The city of Atlanta says it intends to double the number of police officers patrolling the Atlanta Beltline over the next three years.
Currently, the Beltline’s Path Force Unit has 15 officers and three supervisors. The city says the U.S. Department of Justice recently awarded the city a $1.9 million grant to hire an additional 15 officers.
The announcement follows a recent uptick in crime along the trail.
In August, a man told police he was robbed at gunpoint in the vicinity of 400 Village Parkway. There were two other Beltline robberies reported this year. In January, four women walking on the Beltline were robbed at gunpoint between the Ladybird restaurant and the Mariposa lofts. The incident occurred shortly after midnight. In February, robbery suspects pistol-whipped a man during an early-evening robbery in Old Fourth Ward Park before fleeing toward the Beltline.
Prior to 2017, there was only one robbery reported on the Beltline between 2013 and 2016, according to information provided by the Atlanta Police Department.
“In September 2017, the Atlanta BeltLine officially opened the new three-mile Westside Trail in southwest Atlanta, significantly increasing the scope of Path Force patrols,” a press release from the city says. “Hiring 15 additional officers with funding from the 2017 grant greatly increases the capacity of the unit, allowing greater shift flexibility, enhanced data collection and analysis, and proactive place-based policing tactics.”
The Beltline has an average of 20,000 pedestrians and cyclists each week, in addition to big events like the Lantern Parade which can draw thousands more.
“We are thrilled that the Path Force will have increased resources to effectively patrol the Atlanta BeltLine as we continue to open new parks and trails,” Brian McGowan, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., said in a press release. “This grant is the direct result of collaboration across agencies all working toward a common goal of improving the Atlanta BeltLine. We’d like to thank our partners at the City and our federal partners for helping us keep safety a top priority.”