Public safety and code enforcement were the main topics of discussion Wednesday night, as BrookhavenYES held the latest in its series of meetings and discussions on the issue of cityhood.
Between 25-30 people attended the meeting held at BrookhavenYES board member Byron Williamson's Drew Valley residence.
At the same time, several opponents of the proposed city canvassed portions of Drew Valley Road and Poplar Springs Drive.
"We just ask people who haven't made up their minds on the issue to read the proposed city of Brookhaven charter," said Eugenie Viener, a volunteer for AshfordNeighbors.org, which is opposed to the city. "All of our facts in opposition to the city come from the Carl Vinson Institute Study, and we'll be out here going door to door until the cityhood referendum vote on July 31."
At the meeting, Williamson said north DeKalb residents pay most of the county's taxes for its operations but receive less of the services.
"We've lived in the Drew Valley neighborhood for 10 years, and until six months ago, I had never seen a patrolcar in our community," he said. "None of the people who represent this area in DeKalb County government live anywhere close to here. These are serious issues."
Dunwoody Chief of Police Billy Grogan and Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson attended the meeting.
Grogan said that salary and benefit packages are crucial in attracting personnel to a new police department.
"You're going to get a lot of applicants, but you have to be careful in screening those applicants," Grogan said. "In Dunwoody, we hired from many metro Atlanta police departments, including DeKalb County, Atlanta, Marietta, Cobb County and Smyrna."
A Brookhaven police department would be staffed by officers who have been trained and accredited by other departments.
Several residents also asked about code enforcement. The Drew Valley community backs up to several dilapidated apartment complexes along Buford Highway.
Grogan advised a new city to employ or contract out with a separate code enforcement operation, rather than rely on police officers to issue code violations.
"Police work is complicated enough, and there are all sorts of different complexities when it comes to code enforcement," he said. "You need personnel trained in those nuances."
Both Clarkson and Grogan said 911 response times in their cities range from two to six minutes, depending on the nature of the call.
"As a new city you'll have some great advantages in setting up your municipality in a very efficient manner, as opposed to DeKalb County's bloated budget," Clarkson said. "I was very vocal in my support of a city of Dunwoody, because I want to live near municipalities that share the same concerns and issues that we do."