Community Policing Partnership Aims to Foster Positive Relationships with Westside Residents

The Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), Atlanta Police Department (APD) and Westside Future Fund (WFF) are celebrating a key milestone in their Westside Blue program partnership – the delivery of a brand-new squad car dedicated to community policing on the Westside.

When the Westside Blue program kicked off nearly two years ago, WFF provided funding for the APF to order a fully-equipped police vehicle. At the time, the on-duty police officer was driving a small, outdated vehicle that lacked the technologies and equipment necessary to police effectively. Supply chain challenges briefly delayed the vehicle’s delivery, but the new squad car is finally hitting the streets and amplifying the effectiveness of this crucial program.

The Westside Blue partnership is a critical resource that has been historically absent in the community. According to Derrick Jordan, real estate consultant for WFF, the increased exposure to police officers intends to deter crime and foster positive relationships between residents and law enforcement. 

“The program is similar to other neighborhood public safety programs, but new to the Westside community. English Avenue and Vine City in particular have never had a neighborhood-focused public safety program of this kind,” said Jordan. “The idea behind the program was largely spurred by a call from local business owners who felt it would be helpful to have more community-based police officers. When I say community-based, I mean they aren’t here to be arresting people, they’re here so the community can establish a relationship with officers.”

In addition to the Westside Blue program, APF has focused on officer housing in the Westside neighborhoods through its Secure Neighborhoods Home Officers program. By housing officers in the neighborhoods in which they work, they garner a greater understanding of the specific needs and nature of their communities and build connections with neighbors and residents.

To encourage the housing program on the Westside, WFF has donated land to APF for future home building projects, but has not directly contributed to construction.

“We want a police presence in the community ahead of the work we are doing in affordable real estate development. We are working hard and quickly to construct affordable housing in these neighborhoods, with new homeowners and residents moving in each month, and as we attract and retain these residents, we need to ensure safety and security,” said Jordan. “We’ve asked our Westside Blue officers to patrol the areas where we are focusing our housing initiatives to get ahead of the development and growth now.”

So far, the program has seen tremendous success, with incidents of crime decreasing and trust in law enforcement increasing. 

“The point of the program isn’t to encourage arrests, it is intended to increase visibility of law enforcement in the community to foster positive relationships and deter crime in a proactive manner rather than retroactively through arrests. From what we’re seeing, we strongly believe that our goals are proving successful. We can feel and see a shift in the overall sentiment toward law enforcement in our community,” said Jordan. “Since the beginning of Westside Blue, we’ve seen a significant decrease in the vandalism and reduced break-ins of our own properties, and our neighbors and other existing residents have felt the same relief.”

In addition to protecting homes, WFF has expanded the range of the Westside Blue program to monitor and protect the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard business district corridor at the direct request of local business owners.

With the new police squad car on the street and a continuously improving relationship between community members and law enforcement, the future is bright for the Westside Blue program and the five historic Westside neighborhoods.

“We’re excited about how well the program is doing, and even more excited to see where else it can go,” said Jordan.