ATLANTA — A recent crime wave in the Buckhead community of Atlanta has some calling for the area to become its own city.
The growing push comes as, over the past three weeks, Atlanta police say they've responded to seven reported shootings in Zone 2, which makes up the Buckhead neighborhood.
Around 2:40 a.m., Sunday, officers responded to a shopping center along Piedmont Road, where they found a Rolls Royce that had slammed into a tree. Investigators said the driver was shot several times after someone pulled up beside him and opened fire.
It’s crimes like these in Buckhead that have members of a local non-profit seeking to convert the neighborhood into its own city.
Atlanta realtor, Sam Lenaeus is the leader of the Buckhead Exploratory Committee, which has more than 300 members on its private Facebook group. In a statement to 11alive, he said, in part:
"We believe the great people of our city who live, work and visit Atlanta want to feel safe and protected from these atrocities. This is currently a significant challenge and one not being met. It is our hope and we are endeavoring to make this the top priority of our efforts."
The group is currently working to raise $15,000 to commission a study on what it would take to make Buckhead its own city.
"Buckhead is an important part of the City of Atlanta, always has been and will continue to be such," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said earlier this week. Bottoms said she doesn't believe the creation of a new city will solve the problem.
"A number of the issues that we've had in the city of Atlanta, as we know, have come from people traveling from out-of-state. So, establishing a city is not going to address that issue," she said.
Rather, Mayor Bottoms said she believes crime in Buckhead can be addressed in other ways.
"Partnership and productive dialogue on how we can address crime, not just in Buckhead but throughout the city of Atlanta," Bottoms said.
President of the Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition, Jim Durrett, said his group is opposed to Buckhead becoming an independent city within Fulton County.
About a month ago, the coalition laid out its security plan to curb and address crime in the area. The first part focuses on fighting crime. They hope to achieve this by creating a grid of cameras, developing a security patrol plan for commercial and residential areas, and giving more funding to Crime Stoppers Atlanta.
The group of leaders also wants to focus on policy changes. They said some rules in place are not effective and hope to increase community support, enforce ordinances, and improve the training and retention of officers.