GTPD Partnerships Benefit Campus, Beyond
Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) Officer David Augcomfar explains the ins and outs of the SkyCop, the mobile surveillance unit the GTPD made available to the Atlanta Police Department to enhance security at this year's Peachtree Road Race.
When the Atlanta Police Department (APD) needed help with surveillance during the Peachtree Road Race, it turned to the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) for support.
“They asked to use the department’s SkyCop mobile surveillance unit — and we were honored to contribute to public safety at such a high-profile event,” said GTPD’s Deputy Chief of Police Rob Connolly. “But this was really just another everyday example of the solid relationships the GTPD has established with neighboring law enforcement agencies.”
Over the past year, there have been several examples of the success of these partnerships with groups including APD and Midtown Blue, the public safety force for the Midtown community.
In March, a drug deal gone bad led to a shooting and multiple car crash at the North Avenue and Spring Street intersection. The suspects who fled from the getaway vehicle (in three separate directions) were immediately apprehended by officers from APD, GTPD, and Midtown Blue.
More recently, APD praised GTPD, through an official letter of commendation, following a robbery in Midtown. During the incident, GTPD officers responded to APD’s call to be on the lookout for the suspect. Officer J. Clifford pursued and arrested the armed suspect, who attempted to escape by jumping off the Fifth Street Bridge onto the Downtown Connector.
In another recent incident, Tech cameras detected the suspect in a robbery that occurred near campus. With GTPD’s assistance, APD was able to arrest the suspect and return the stolen items to the victim.
“GTPD and APD often work as one to promote public safety,” said APD’s Maj. James Whitmire. “During my 24 years of police work, I can say that the partnership between APD and the GTPD is the best I’ve ever seen or been a part of.”
Because the districts are all intertwined, “It just makes sense to partner,” said Sgt. Fred Briggs, lead officer at Midtown Blue. For example, GTPD and Midtown Blue partnered to raise money to secure a squad car that facilitates joint patrols by APD and GTPD on campus and in areas including Home Park and Centennial Olympic Apartments.
“Because the majority of our crimes are on the outskirts of campus, a partnership like this is critical,” Connolly said. “It’s our way of protecting not only the campus but areas around campus.”
Another initiative that will extend GTPD’s crime fighting powers beyond campus is an exterior camera project. Currently, all of GTPD’s cameras are fixed on campus buildings.
When the first phase of the camera project is complete in two months, 15 cameras will keep a virtual eye on all of the entry roads into campus, supporting APD and Midtown Blue’s camera networks. At the end of the second phase, which will likely be complete in about six months, 25 cameras will help protect Tech’s periphery.
“Neither APD nor Midtown Blue have cameras around the perimeter of our campus. That’s why we’re going to invest in these cameras and share it with these agencies,” Connolly said. “These are reciprocal relationships. We keep track of and support each other. What’s great about it is that, over the past few years, our partnerships have continued to become stronger and stronger.”