On-duty police will be patrolling Piedmont Park for the remainder of this year’s Screen on the Green features — a first for the outdoor film series.
More off-duty cops also will be hired as part of a new security plan unveiled Monday by city and park officials. The changes come 11 days after marauding teens took over the park, interrupting the screening of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Estimates had the crowd at 10,000 the night, with only 23 off-duty officers providing security. There also were reports of disruptions at the previous week’s screening of “National Treasure,” with one attendee comparing the atmosphere to a bar brawl.
“The new public safety plan incorporates increased security personnel, including on-duty and off-duty Atlanta police officers and staffers from a private security firm that regularly handles events in Piedmont Park,” said a release from Mayor Kasim Reed’s office. “In addition, representatives from MARTA Police and Midtown Blue are participating in this coordinated effort.”
An APD incident commander will be on hand to mobilize additional security personnel. Police officers on horseback will maintain a presence around the park’s perimeter. And the APD’s School Detective Unit is being called in to deal specifically with problems caused by teen patrons.
Sponsors Peachtree TV and the Piedmont Park Conservancy also announced that they have hired a new firm to provide more “T-shirt” security responsible for quieting any disturbances within the crowd. They will also relocate the screen, vending stations and portable toilets to “improve pedestrian traffic flow.”
In addition to the enhanced safety measures, Reed and interim Police Chief George Turner will preside over a town hall meeting Tuesday night to launch the “Respect Yourself, Respect the ‘A'” initiative, which is aimed at reaching the rowdy youth blamed for disrupting previous Screens on the Green. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall.
The film series resumes Thursday night with “Dreamgirls,” likely to draw a tamer crowd than “Transformers.” A bigger test follows on June 24 with a showing of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” sure to attract a bigger and younger audience.