City of Atlanta Wins Department of Justice Grant to Expand Atlanta BeltLine Path Force Unit
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
The City of Atlanta announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the 2017 Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program grants. The City of Atlanta was among the recipients for a $1.875 million award, which will fund 15 additional Path Force officers over three years. The Path Force is a dedicated unit of the Atlanta Police Department that patrols the Atlanta BeltLine’s trails, as well as adjacent parks and neighborhoods. The Path Force Unit has patrolled the Atlanta BeltLine’s open trails since 2013, when a $1.8 million COPS grant was announced to fund the unit’s launch.
“I am pleased to announce that the City of Atlanta has received the 2017 Community Oriented Policing Services grant to fund 15 additional officers for the Atlanta Police Department’s Path Force Unit,” said Mayor Reed. “The Atlanta BeltLine must be safe and accessible for all people, and the women and men of the Path Force unit play an essential role in this effort. I applaud the Atlanta BeltLine and the Atlanta Police Department for their success in winning this grant, and I thank the U.S. Department of Justice and our federal partners for their partnership in promoting community policing in our city.”
In September 2017, the Atlanta BeltLine officially opened the new three-mile Westside Trail in southwest Atlanta, significantly increasing the scope of Path Force patrols. Hiring 15 additional officers with funding from the 2017 grant greatly increases the capacity of the unit, allowing greater shift flexibility, enhanced data collection and analysis, and proactive place-based policing tactics.
“The officers on the Path Force have done an excellent job keeping the BeltLine safe and maintaining a visible and positive presence,” Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said. “This grant will allow us to expand our efforts and ensure the BeltLine can continue to grow and flourish.”
The Path Force has played an integral role in public safety and community engagement since the 2013 launch of the unit. Traffic on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail regularly exceeds 20,000 pedestrians and cyclists per week, with single events such as the Lantern Parade drawing crowds of more than 70,000. The newly opened Westside Trail travels primarily through residential neighborhoods, connecting four parks, four schools, and providing a commuting solution for safe routes to schools, jobs, housing and mass transit.
“We are thrilled that the Path Force will have increased resources to effectively patrol the Atlanta BeltLine as we continue to open new parks and trails,” said Brian McGowan, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “This grant is the direct result of collaboration across agencies all working toward a common goal of improving the Atlanta BeltLine. We’d like to thank our partners at the City and our federal partners for helping us keep safety a top priority.”
The Atlanta BeltLine’s Path Force uses community-oriented policing, collaborating with more than 30 partners including other government agencies, community groups, neighborhood associations and private businesses. Officers regularly interface with the public during events such as Police in the Park, the Atlanta BeltLine’s Play Day, and the Washington Park Jamboree, among many others.