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Buckhead neighbors grill Mayor Bottoms about crime

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosted her first in a series of town halls Thursday night.

ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms faced cheers and boos in Buckhead Thursday night.

An overflowing crowd packed the Atlanta History Center for the Mayor's first of three upcoming town halls. Bottoms was joined by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, along with nearly every department head. Crime was the hot topic of the night.

"When we saw what was going on in this space, in our mind as a command staff, it was a failure," Shields told the crowd.

Last month, Buckhead residents - tired of the car break-ins, thefts and home burglaries - told 11Alive they don't feel safe in their own neighborhood

"We don't want to feel hijacked in our own city," Amber Connor said. "We don't want to feel like we are constantly looking over our shoulder. That's no way to live."

MORE: Residents in Buckhead neighborhood concerned about crime

The 11Alive Investigations Team found out that the Buckhead area has had several beat redesigns since 2000 and Zone 2 - which covers the neighborhood - is significantly larger now than it was 18 years ago. According to the Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead's population increased by nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2016. 

The police chief admitted she is embarrassed by the recent uptick in violent crime in Buckhead.

"We struggled last year, with crime being up double digits. It was sickening," Shields said. "We have thrust every imaginable resource up here. It has made a difference."

RELATED: APD chief 'sickened' by letter written by former council member about Buckhead crime 

Shields said the first two months of 2019 saw a drop in the crime rate by about 5 percent.

The most contentious moment of the night came when Mayor Bottoms spoke about her decision last year to end the city jail's relationship with ICE.

A large crowd booed, while one woman asking if Atlanta was now a "sanctuary city."

Bottoms plans to hold two more town halls in the next month. 

The next will be held Tuesday, March 19 at the Adamsville Recreation Center. The final event will be Thursday, March 28 at the FanPlex on Hank Aaron Drive.

RELATED: Atlanta Police increases patrols to curb car theft from valets

RELATED: Neighbors concerned about car break-ins in Buckhead

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