Statistics show that overall crime plummeted by 27 percent in Atlanta last year, which includes rather frightening infractions such as aggravated assaults.
But this being a major American city, bad things still happen. And sometimes in the most pristine public places.
To get a handle on how frequently crimes occur within, or near, the 357 parks in city limits, Atlanta law firm Dixon Davis pored over Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department crime data, and then teamed with data visualization firm 1point21 Interactive to present findings in interactive map form.
Analysts tallied eight years of data—between 2009 and 2016—for crimes reported within 250 feet of a city park. Their findings of almost 28,000 total crimes “are certainly a cause for concern,” analysts said, in summation.
Leading the way with 1,595 offenses in that timespan was Piedmont Park, making it the city’s “most dangerous,” the study found. That’s about 199 reported incidents per year in Atlanta’s marquee gathering place.
But let’s keep this in context: The park spans more than 200 acres in the middle of intown Atlanta, hosts hundreds of events each year, and the off-leash dog park alone logs more than 700,000 annual visitors, according to the Piedmont Park Conservancy.
Is “dangerous” the right term? Even relatively speaking?
In any case, the tally of “parks” included public spaces such as recreation centers, conservation spaces, and historic properties such as Oakland Cemetery.
Noticeably absent from the list: Centennial Olympic Park (it’s not operated by Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, so comparable stats weren’t available, analysts said); and the Atlanta Beltline, where a specialized APD force has succeeded in keeping reported incidents extremely low since the Eastside Trail opened five years ago.
Interestingly, during the time period studied, just one homicide each was recorded in popular greenspaces Piedmont Park, Historic Fourth Ward Park, Freedom Park, and downtown’s Woodruff Park.
The most common crime, by far? Larceny. Which is another way of saying people taking other people’s stuff—especially property stolen from vehicles. (Nearly 60 percent of incidents in Piedmont Park involved car break-ins).
Other factoids of note, per Dixon Davis:
- Freedom Park logged the second-highest crime tally (with the most pedestrian robberies and auto thefts), despite being 35 percent smaller than Piedmont Park. Hmm.
- Oakland Cemetery (and vicinity) ranked fourth in total crime (about 76 reported incidents per year), with the vast majority in the vehicle-larceny category.
- On the bright side, Adams Park in Southwest Atlanta saw relatively few crimes in the time period studied, especially when considering it spans nearly 160 acres. (Buzzkill: the park did record the highest number of reported rapes, with seven, per the analysis).
And now for the dubious Top 25:
Lastly, for park-goers of Atlanta, here’s a good statistical basis for always being alert:
- Analysis: Crime at Atlanta Parks [Dixon Davis]