Thursday, October 30, 2014


As much as it pains to set aside gadfly for gladfly it is time for credit where credit is due. And once again it is Councilman Shortal who has seen thru the Smart City's BS and spoken out against it.  This particular BS centered around the tax-hike fueled budget presented to Council wherein the grow-at-all-costs paradigm was applied to police department budgeting.

Councilman Shortal wants to know "what a lieutenant can do that a sergeant isn't doing now" to which the obvious answer is "cost this City more." Shortal's preference is that if more officers we must have then those officers be indians rather than chiefs. Furthermore he would really prefer that the budget be more focused on infrastructure (e.g., roads and sidewalks) over bloating the police force. He is spot on.

Shortal seems to have an insightful understanding of facts that should be, but apparently are not, obvious to all. Dunwoody's borders, it's geographical expanse is fixed and will not change.  Territorial expansion is not going to drive the clear need for more officers of any rank, but especially not the higher ranks. Population may increase but Dunwoody has been quite aggressive in limiting high density development. Population growth and demographic transformations will not drive police expansion either. Significant percentages of Dunwoody crime emanate from the Perimeter Center area most notably the mall--the crime rate per square foot at the Ravinia complex is significantly lower than Perimeter Mall. Even with that, the Mall itself is limited in growth opportunities that might drive crime and consequently police force expansion. Making the Mall a safer place requires presence but not an army of high ranking officers.

So Councilman Shortal is on target in suggesting that we may need more mall cops but we certainly do not need more desk jockeys.

While Shortal is spot on and should take a well-earned bow, he does pull up short. Clearly we need to end the interim positions. We need to hire a police chief that is aligned with the Dunwoody reality. One who understands this city will grow in quality, but the footprint is fixed and the demands relatively stable. That Dunwoody is not a place to grow your budget and head counts by double-digit percentages year over year. We also need to make progress on hiring a capable, experienced City Manager who will oversee operations including the police force. Dunwoody voters and taxpayers deserve no less.