Community Q&A with Westside Blue’s Officer Rodney Jones, Jr.
Atlanta Police officer Rodney Jones Jr. was a panelist at our June 16 Transform Westside Summit, where he joined Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, Atlanta Police Foundation’s Dave Wilkinson and fellow Atlanta Police officer Savannah Berry for an eye-opening discussion about the Westside Security Plan.
Launched by the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) in 2016, the Westside Security Plan is a crime and safety stabilization strategy that integrates crime control and crime reduction with neighborhood revitalization.
It consists of four primary components, including the Westside Blue Security Patrol, of which Officer Jones is a member. The Patrol is comprised of off-duty APD officers who, while providing additional security to neighborhood residents, are fostering cooperative relationships between law enforcement and residents.
Read below as Officer Jones talks about his work with Westside Blue and his hope for the Westside.
How long have you been a member of the Atlanta Police Department?
I have been a member of the police department for about seven years now. I work in the Zone 1 Westside area.
How did you decide on a career in law enforcement?
As a child, I would not say I was one that always wanted to be a police officer. At first, I wanted to be a lawyer. I came to Atlanta with the intentions of getting a criminal justice background to apply it to the courtroom. I ended up liking what I do.
Describe a typical day for a Westside Blue officer?
There is no such thing as a typical day as an officer here on the Westside. One day we could be helping a kid at the park, helping with a soccer game or helping with a barbecue. Another day I may be dealing with the concerns of a citizen in the neighborhood.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is great to give back to this community. This is a job that ensures I interact with people on a daily basis. I am on the forefront implementing the plan on the ground.
I also enjoy the fact that I can have a significant impact on everyone I encounter. When the APF said they were going to build an At-Promise Center it was the perfect bond and relationship. The center allows the kids to have somewhere to go to divert them to other things instead of crime. I wanted to be a part of that change.
Do you have any other responsibilities outside of your time with Westside Blue?
Outside of Westside Blue I am full time police officer in Zone 1. Some days I feel like we are counselors. I may be that shoulder you need to lean or cry on. There are so many layers to me and the department. Sometimes we fulfill roles that are not roles of a police officer, like taking someone to get a meal or being a part of a child’s life.
What was your impression of the June 16 Summit?
Last Friday’s Summit was a great opportunity to meet our Chief, Erika Shields, on a more personal level, and understand her beliefs and vision for the department. She feels just as passionate as we do about change and the youth. She knows that we cannot change crime in Atlanta or have a brighter future without changing the kids. It was nice to know there are so many people who are concerned and involved with the Westside community. The turnout was overwhelming. It was great, and I am happy I am a part of it.
For those unfamiliar with the Westside, what would you want them to know about the community?
The Westside community is very historic and diverse. At any given time, you can see your local politician, business owner or students. I want them to know that the Westside is about change and progressively moving forward.
What is your hope for the Westside?
I want the Westside community to be safer. I no longer want the Westside to be infested with drugs and crime. Although it has gotten better, I want the Westside to continue to be on the rise.
For more information on the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Westside Blue Security Patrol, visit atlantapolicefoundation.org.