Residents of Buckhead, Ga., who are concerned about a spike in crime are working to separate from Atlanta and form a new city with its own police force.
Bill White, the Buckhead City Committee CEO, told Fox News he expects 80 percent of his community will vote in favor of the split.
“We have two bills in the Georgia legislature dropping in January to decide this referendum ballot,” White said.
“We filed our divorce papers at the city of Atlanta, and our divorce is final,” he added.
While Buckhead was one of Atlanta’s safest communities, it has not been spared from the city’s skyrocketing crime. In May, the Washington Post reported that so far this year the police zone that includes much of Buckhead had experienced a 40 percent increase in homicides, a 39 percent hike in robberies and a 64 percent spike in car thefts.
White criticized the policies of Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, saying they have emboldened criminals and left police feeling “demoralized, underpaid, [and] under-recognized.”
“They are being told basically not to fight crime in the way they would like to,” he said.
Morale among officers has suffered and the department has seen a rise in retirements. As of May, the city had 400 fewer officers than the department’s authorized force of 2,046.
Meanwhile, murders in Atlanta are up 63 percent year-to-date compared to 2020 as of May 29, according to police statistics. In 2020, the city saw a two-decade high of 157 killings.
“We’re going to get a hold of it here in Buckhead,” White said.
The residents are hoping to form an incorporated municipality called Buckhead City, which would have its own law-enforcement system dedicated to lowering crime rates.
“We’ll have our own court. We’ll have our own judge. We’ll have our own jail,” White said. “And we are going to put the smackdown on this crime once and for all here, because the people of Buckhead have had enough.”
He said the separation would be mutually beneficial for both Atlanta and Buckhead, which is home to roughly 86,000 residents.
“A new Buckhead city will do a much better job and will work very well with Atlanta,” he added. “We’re going to help Atlanta. We’re going to be two strong cities, prosperous and safe, we pray.”