Crime has been on the rise in and around Atlanta for the past month and one way that mayoral candidate and Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens wants to combat that is by conducting senior safety talks.

Part of it goes back to his mayoral candidate plan ‘S.A.F.E. Street Atlanta’. Dickens says that he’s been going to various senior high-rises across Atlanta to talk with seniors about their public safety.

“I’m working with the Atlanta Police Department and we’re meeting with resident groups at various senior towers,” Dickens said. Crime statistics provided by the Atlanta Police Department show crime has risen 20% over the past 28 days.

Dickens’ city council member position has afforded him opportunities to talk to the community more as crime rises. He says he wanted to take care of the vulnerable populations around Atlanta.

“These seniors, though they live in high rises and communities, often go up to the convenience store, to the grocery store or to the MARTA bus stop in their wheelchairs or walkers or take a nice stroll,” Dickens said. “I want to make sure that they are aware of their surroundings and take precautions to look out for one another. One of the key elements to that is what the Atlanta Police Department says, ‘If you see something, say something.’ These seniors are able to communicate with one another and say ‘Hey, I’m going for 20 minutes to get something, I’ll be back if you don’t see me in 20 minutes, make a phone call and check on me.’,” he continued. “These kinds of safety tips are very important for this time. People are driving too fast in our city as we try to get them to slow down their speed, these seniors are crossing the crosswalks slowly at times. And we just want to make sure these legacy residents, these seniors like my mom, aunt and many others are able to continue to enjoy this quality of life in the city of Atlanta but be very aware of their surroundings and make it home safe.”

Not only is Dickens focused on the public safety of the senior community around him but he’s also included cybersecurity as well into the talks for senior safety.

“The other thing I’ll say is we talk about cybersecurity. A number of seniors are on the internet and social media and we tell them how to look out for people that are trying to take advantage of them,” Dickens said. “How to look for fake accounts, people that are trying to befriend them and ask them for money. Anybody asking them for their address, bank accounts, these seniors have to be very careful. Unfortunately, people are sometimes preying on them.”

The talks occur every Wednesday and Friday and are in different locations across Atlanta during the 2 p.m. slot. Dickens says that he has two more talks coming in the next week. Often times food for the meetings is donated. “Sometimes we do an ice cream social on Fridays,” Dickens said. “It’s a way to get the residents to come down. We feed them, then we play games and give them prizes. They love prizes so it’s a way to get them to come down and learn about their public safety.”

As a mayoral candidate, Dickens says that safety just doesn’t stop with the seniors but reaches all of Atlanta’s residents.

“Overall safety is for all Atlantans is the number one priority in this campaign and going forward,” Dickens said. “Right now, we are in a crime wave and when I’m mayor, I’ll make sure this is just a crime spike and not the new normal.”

Andre Dickens talks with seniors about safety. (Photo Credit: Andre Dickens)