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Atlanta police force adds officers to BeltLine patrol | News

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Atlanta police force adds officers to BeltLine patrol

ATLANTA -- Atlanta police have now officially unveiled the new "Path Force Unit," which includes 15 officers assigned to patrol the Atlanta BeltLine.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner talked about the new unit during a news conference planned for 10 a.m. Friday at the Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park in Northeast Atlanta.  When the Beltline's safety was questioned, the came out hard against the notion it is unsafe.

"These robberies and burglaries I think are an over-hyped exaggeration," Reed said to applause from staffers and supporters.  "It is as safe as being in any other part of the city."

The numbers show Reed is right.  The Atlanta Police department pulled the numbers for all of the major crimes that have happened on the Beltline since 2011.  They found 12.  No rapes or homicides, but seven robberies or attempted robberies.  

The five other crimes included verbal assaults, theft of old railroad equipment, work site burglary and art theft along the trail.  

There is no official tally of the average daily usage of the Beltline yet, but they are installing a counting system.  They counted the usage numbers on Mother's Day this year, and the Thursday before it.  

17,655 bikers, runners and walkers used the trail on that Sunday.  The Thursday before, 8,115 people used it.  

That means out of the tens of thousands of people who have visited the popular Eastside trail since it opened last year, seven reported run-ins with criminals.  

But the crimes and the reports get the reaction.  The city is using a $1.8 million federal grant to pay for the new unit, which began patrolling the path in late June.

"Every time anyone is a victim of crime we care about it," Reed said.  "We are being responsive, we are listening and we are changing."

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The officers will spread across three shifts, using mostly bicycles to patrol about six miles of the BeltLine that have already been completed.

Along with the new police unit, plans are underway to add more surveillance cameras and better lighting.

The Atlanta Police Department is also working on a new mapping system to better track 911 calls.

For a full look at the crimes reported, you can scroll over the yellow dots for minor crimes and the red dots for more serious crimes below.  

READ| Full crime reports here