The legal process has begun to separate Buckhead into its own city.
“Two years ago, if you told me I was meeting you at a restaurant in Buckhead, I never even thought about should I put my pistol on my belt, two years later, if you asked me to meet you in Buckhead at a restaurant, there’s a very good chance I’ll have a firearm on my belt,” said Representative Todd Jones, who represents South Forsyth, District 25 of Georgia.
The rise in violent crime in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood has residents on edge.
“Safety concerns as far as kids being out, the elderly being out, people visiting Atlanta, being out in the community,” said one Atlanta native, Flem Hollis.
In December, 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie was killed when she was shot while driving by Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. Crime in the area has prompted Lenox Mall to add metal detectors…and restaurants to close their doors.
“It’s going to take the city, city officials, the police department. I grew up in a law enforcement home, so I know as a community it’s going to take all hands on deck,” Hollis added.
Some think secession is the solution…including representative Todd Jones of Cumming, who filed legislation to separate Buckhead into its own city, “Buckhead City,” putting it onto the 2022 session agenda.
“I think it’s important to be able to give people the opportunity to determine how they want to govern themselves,” said Representative Jones, who doesn’t live in, or represent, Buckhead.
The Buckhead Exploratory Committee was formed last fall to consider whether becoming a separate jurisdiction is a possibility.
But former Attorney General of Georgia, Sam Olens, said the process would be legally complex, could take years of litigation, cause major financial issues, among other things.
“Simply thinking that you’re going to go from a section of the city, to become a new city, as a panacea, is far from the real issues at hand,” Olens said, “Annexations are very controversial, they’re very difficult from both a financial and infrastructural perspective.”
Olens added that it's worth having more conversations about a different way to handle the rising crime issue.