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Town Center Updates, Lululemon and Attracting New Companies

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On this episode of Prime Lunchtime, host Rico Figliolini speaks with Peachtree Corners city manager Brian Johnson about the challenges the city is facing and the innovative ways they are addressing them. Brian provides insight into the policies and strategies that Peachtree Corners is exploring to combat today’s issues, including the recent Lululemon incident Additionally, listeners will hear about the city’s efforts to attract businesses, renovate popular gathering spots, and improve infrastructure.

Timestamp Where to find it in the podcast:

[0:00:00] – Intro
[0:02:22] – Incident at Lululemon
[0:17:12] – Companies Moving into Peachtree Corners
[0:23:28] – Updates to the Town Green
[0:31:41] – Closing

“We’ve scheduled some meetings with some of the entities that can do some things to help… It’s important to note that our camera system, the city’s camera system, is unequivocally the reason why police were able to identify and ultimately apprehend the last two homicide instances we had here. So we know it works, we want to have as much of it as we can, so we’ll do our part.”

Brian johnson

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi. Everyone, this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and today, as usual, once a month we talk with city manager Brian Johnson. Hey Brian, thanks for joining me.

Brian Johnson 0:00:11

Rico, thanks for having me.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:13

Yeah, it’s always good, doing this once a month, although I call this Prime Lunchtime with the city manager. We’re not having lunch, but it’s during lunchtime, so I appreciate you giving that hour up. Before we get into it and some of the discussions about what’s going on, I just want to introduce our sponsors. We actually have two beginning with this episode. One is our lead sponsor of EV Remodeling. Eli, who owns it and lives here in Peachtree Corners, has been a great supporter of us. It’s going on our second year. EV Remodeling does a lot of the renovation work from start to finish. You can find their work both in an article we did online at our website, livinginpeachtreecorners.com or go visit evremodelinginc.com. Eli’s a great guy, great family, does some really good work. So check them out. New sponsor beginning this month is Clear Wave Fiber. They’re here in Peachtree Corners. They were actually an elite sponsor of the Criterion Road race that we just had with Curiosity Lab. They’re 100% fiber. They’ll take care of your business and your home, so you should check them out. It’s Clear Wave Fiber and we appreciate them being part of our corporate sponsor family. So thank you for doing that. So, Brian, I guess the first thing that we should talk about and get out of the way is something that’s hit. Even though we’re so local in such a small town. In the scheme of things, Peachtree Corners has been like all of a sudden, I find our name on the New York Post, the UK Mail. And a lot of it has to really do not with us as a city, but with Lululemon, which is a store that is in the Forum. It’s a nationally known brand, my daughter buys from there too. It’s a great brand, but things happened just a week or two ago, caught on video and that was made public. It’s not unusual that it hasn’t happened in other places, but we’ve hit the map because of that. So can you tell us a little bit about that? We had a discussion about it.

Brian Johnson 0:02:22

Well, you’re right. What we did is we kind of got caught in the middle of what is national phenomenon, it appears, and that is there have been some corporations like Lululemon, there are a number of other ones that have adopted a policy that affects their response to shoplifting or theft of any kind of merchandise from the stores. And the policy regulates the employees behavior during and after. And it’s kind of twofold. One is, policies are generally that if they’re witnessing a shoplifting or a theft, theft in progress is to not intervene directly, is to not engage directly the individual or individuals doing it. And that one is when you read the articles and some of the studies on this stuff that’s generally for the safety of the employees, you don’t know what the person stealing merchandise will do. If they have a weapon, are they going to assault you. So they’re just generally like, look, do not engage them, do not get near enough them or interfere with what they’re doing. Let them leave. And then some of the big brands have in house security, yeah, security that they’ll investigate and see if they’ll do. So that’s kind of one part of this. The part that maybe has people more like kind of having a difficult time understanding is they don’t call the police during and in some cases even afterwards, that they’re just going to write it off as lost merchandise. And the purpose behind that in the cases where a corporation does have that policy is there has been some internal cost benefit analysis that they think that there is a greater risk to the corporation of calling the police and potentially being accused of profiling than just writing off the loss of the merchandise. And so they’re like, we’re not going to call the police about this at all. Because there could be instances, of course, with corporate policies, it’s a blanket across the country, so there certainly could be instances where it clearly wouldn’t be necessarily that. But they’re just worried that there could be instances where some employee makes what I call it levels an accusation against somebody to the police even after the fact. And that person maybe invariably either wasn’t involved or they level an accusation against a corporation that you’re only accusing me because you’re profiling me for certain reasons. And so they said, we’re not going to call the police. So unfortunately, why that affects us is we have stores here that are part of national and international corporations, and some have this policy. And the Forum certainly has stores that are struggling with the nationwide, and I stress the nationwide phenomenon because some of the discussion around here is like, oh, crime has decided to focus on the Forum or focus on Peachtree Corners. And that is not the case. It’s unfortunate we have any, but we are no different than other locations that are struggling with the fact that certain criminal elements, juveniles, just certain people who are willing to break the law, know that they can get away with it to a certain degree on certain stores that have this policy. And in the case of lululemon, there was an instance where, having this policy in place, there were individuals who, it appears, in the view of lululemon’s leadership, did not remove themselves from the case of this theft terminated, and then the termination resulted in the spouse of one of the individuals posting a long kind of blog about it. And it started with two employees were fired because they called the police, which Lululemons come back and said that wasn’t the case. They were fired because of other policies, which appears to be they did not remove themselves from the immediate area of these people. But it got picked up nationally because people were like, wait a second, you got fired because you called the police and then it kind of got what? But anyway, as this story took off, it starts always with there was an incident in Peachtree Tree Corners, Georgia, at Lululemon, and then it goes into the corporate policy and how this has contributed to some of the increase in criminal activity we see, at least when it comes to the shoplifting and theft. So that’s the incident we could certainly talk about the specific case here, but that’s why we were.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:13

So the ladies that followed them out, if the reports are accurate right. The posting, I’m sure listen, there’s three sides to the story, so accuracy can be depending on where it goes. I’ve read enough articles on this because this has appeared in sites like the New York Post, UK Mail, I mean, it’s been internationally, even reported to a degree because of Lululemon’s brand right. If they hadn’t followed them out, which they shouldn’t have, I guess I can appreciate and understand the liabilities of a business where they want to make sure their employees are safe, but also it’s a cost factor too, right? It’s not good to have your employees go out because lawsuits can arise from some of these things for sure, because lawsuits are like we’re a society where we like to sue everyone.

Brian Johnson 0:09:03

We’re litigious, no doubt about that.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:07

But if they didn’t follow them out, they didn’t see the car marking or the car the make and model and all that, these guys would never have been arrested in Peachtree City where they went, I guess it was the next day to do the same thing at Another Lululemon and they were arrested. And now they’re in jail. Or at least they were in jail, because the aggregate amount of what they stole was a felony range versus a misdemeanor range, if the reporting is accurate.

Brian Johnson 0:09:33

Right, because they wouldn’t my understanding as well, I don’t know, at some point they may have been caught, but the make and model of the vehicle was a result of the theft at the forum location of Lululemon. And that did play into the very next day, the same group of four went down to Peachtree City, south of Atlanta and did the same thing. And the police, having the make and model, knew what to look for when they tried to leave. The, I guess the was almost like a shopping mall. And so there are multiple exits and they were able to keep the from leaving. And they had already changed their license plate, so that would not have helped if we had picked up here. Now, it’s also important to note a couple of other things. One is there are a number of other corporate policies that have affected this kind of activity both at the Forum and elsewhere. I mean, you know, have talked to North American Properties, who owns the Forum, and Avalon. Avalon has stores that the same thing is happening. Avenues at East Cobb, other locations they have when there are others. My understanding is Victoria’s Secret, who has a similar policy, has more the on a somewhat unfortunate regular basis than even Lululemon. Unbelievable. They’re not the only ones. Again, we got caught with individuals who understand we’re kind of tired of having to see this. And it was brazen, if you watch the video, brazen about this. But nationally, it’s on the increase. In fact, there are some cities, usually big cities, who won’t even prosecute misdemeanors at all. And so those who do this know that if you keep the value of the merchandise that you’re shoplifting or stealing below a certain threshold, then that’s right, essentially no consequences to your action. And these stores are just writing it off. I don’t think most of what we’ve read, most of the comments that we’ve received are not incredulous. Reaction has not been about, well, they got fired, or the belief that they got fired for not removing themselves from the immediate location of all these people doing it. A lot of people believe, oh, they got fired for calling the police.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:09

Right. Because that was part of that commentary. But I mean, even still, I guess that I think what this probably shows or what’s necessary maybe at some point, is that the Forum, unlike Town Center, has no cameras there. And that may be something that the maybe have to look into.

Brian Johnson 0:12:31

Well, there’s two things going on at the Forum. That the city. We’ve scheduled some meetings with some of the entities that can do some things to help. But right now, on the exterior roads that you drive on to get to these stores at the Forum, the main boulevard, there are not specific exterior cameras on the parking spots and the roadway. And so that’s going to be discussed. The other issue that is going to be harder is Gwynette PD. When they were finally called after this incident, they had, I can’t remember it was either four or five officers that got there within two minutes, but it was all done already. The group had left, and Gwynette PD has implored these locations. Call us. We can’t do anything if you don’t call us. But the corporate policy of, hey, we don’t call the police because we would rather write it off than get accused of profiling, which usually tends to be the racial profiling. There’s other types. But the risk some corporations feel that that is greater than calling the police is such that when that police department is very frustrated as well, because they’re like, this is happening right under our nose, and we are here. We had officers in the area could have done sending you called. I don’t know how to fix that per se, but we certainly can do some things, and we’ll do some things to maybe increase our ability to ultimately solve and prosecute some of this criminality. It’s important to note that our camera system, city’s camera system, both video and flock hide in with Fusis is unequivocally. The reason why police were able to identify and ultimately apprehend the last two homicide instances we had here, which fortunate, but at least we had the ability to do that. So we know it works, want to have as much of it as we can, so we’ll do our part. But unfortunately, there’s going to be still a struggle with corporate policy on an individual store basis on what they do with what’s happening inside.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:03

Yeah, and I know it’s frustrating, apparently for the Forum also because they’ve had discussions with the businesses, and it’s out of their control as far as that goes.

Brian Johnson 0:15:12

And they’ve also employed. I’m glad you brought that. It’s not just Gwinnett PD, it’s the landlord. North American Properties has been like, please, this hurts us all when this happens because some of the local community social media comments, like on next door, there’s people who are like, why isn’t the forum doing more? Or you should reach out to the city. The city shouldn’t let this happen. We would love to be able to get these stores to do something about it, and then these employees feel handcuffed, too. Hopefully, if we get enough of this solved or the word gets out that you really are under surveillance when you’re out on the public right of public spaces, that maybe the criminal element won’t come here, but it is not exclusive to us. Nobody wants it to happen. And look, as frustrating as these policies are, the other thing we got to be careful of is I read a lot of I’m never shopping at Lululemon again, and I get the stance, but we’re not careful. We are going to end up by taking a stance there, driving Lululemon away from this particular location, and now we’ve got another empty storefront.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:34

They’re understood. I mean, these types of things actually have driven companies to actually close. Walmart has closed in places. Other stores have closed in neighborhoods where these things are happening.

Brian Johnson 0:16:48

I don’t think it made at their corporate headquarters. And again, there’s greater forces at play and other social considerations that they put into it. Right or wrong, whether you agree or not, it’s just what we’d hate to see is the end of the day, this location is closed because it’s not getting enough sales. And again, now you got an empty storefront.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:12

I don’t think that certainly would be the case. So hopefully things will be a little different. All right. There’s other things happening in the city. There’s certainly governments and companies that are flocking to the city of Peachtree Corners for a lot of different reasons. Curiosity Lab is one of the to be able to do like that race that you all put together between the city and Curiosity Lab with the Criterion Road race that was just phenomenal. Be able to do that. Over the past year or so, the French American Business Chamber relocated here. Several companies like Valmat, which is I think a Danish company, relocated into the three corners.

Brian Johnson 0:17:54

There are companies that partnership agreement with Audi.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:58

Audi, that’s right.

Brian Johnson 0:17:59

No idea. That may materialize into something more. I mean, that’s the purpose of all this is Curiosity Lab is merely a magnet to get companies here. Our hope is once Curiosity Lab gets them to the area and they’re using Curiosity Lab or they’re collaborating or doing whatever is we talk to them and convince them, hey, look at this community as a whole. This is a great place for maybe you to expand your business or do certain things. I just got done meeting with the supply chain leadership at Intuitive Surgical at their headquarters in Sunnyvale and purpose of it was to get the list of all of their tier one and tier two parts suppliers that they purchased parts from to assemble the DA Vinci robotic assistance. And the purpose of us getting that is we’re going to go to then those part suppliers and say, hey, wouldn’t it be great for you to have a location really close to one of your biggest customers? Wouldn’t it be great? And if so, let’s talk about how much square footage you need and what can the city do to so that’s how we’re using this. And then of course we know that Curiosity Lab was ultimately a decisive point in Intuitive decision to come here. So the means to an end, but yeah, I mean, continues to play out.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:30

I’m glad you brought that up about the list of suppliers and stuff because I don’t think people understand what a city does as far as economic impact and bringing businesses here and what’s involved. It really is a salesmanship type of thing and to be able to show that right, I mean, you’re traveling in fact, weren’t you all in Israel recently and now there’s an Israeli government related business organization that’s going to be working out of Peachtree Corners.

Brian Johnson 0:19:58

Tell us CTO of the city. The person who really runs Curiosity Lab day to day. He went to Israel, spoke at it by invitation, spoke at a conference, but he was able to close a partnership agreement that we had kind of laid the groundwork for last year when I was there. And that’s Israeli governmental agency called the Israeli Innovation Authority. And their job is to foster incubate and help develop Israeli startup companies and their expansion into the international market. And we’ve worked out a partnership agreement in which they’re going to vet this big pool of startups within the nation of Israel. Vet them down to ones that they think are ready to come to the US. Meaning their product they think is one that’ll work. They’re financially healthy enough that they can scale somewhere else and then they’re going to push them to the US through Curiosity Lab. We’re going to offer some assistance when they land here. Somewhat similar to what the French American Chamber does for French companies is they get here and then they’re kind of like, all right, I’m in the US. Talk to me about what it would take for us to hire people here. Is there certain paperwork we got to do? We want to be close to certain things. Where’s the good market to do that? Sometimes we keep the here, sometimes the leave and go elsewhere in metro Atlanta, elsewhere in Georgia, elsewhere in the US. But at least we had a shot at saying maybe we can meet your need. Maybe you stay here within our corporate limits and you don’t leave on your expansion. But we’ve executed an official partnership agreement to have that pipeline get created between the Israeli government and Israeli startups coming to the US. So it’s great opportunity for us to maybe land some companies that have product and maybe they want to expand and stay right here inside our it’s amazing.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:20

Israel, the startup nation. I think there was a book about that about how they have more startups per capita than any other nation and they’re small. Right. Unbelievable. So things are still moving along with technology obviously here. But we’re also looking at the city as a whole being community driven. Right? I mean there’s stuff going on. Like just recently one of my friends texted me from it was Saturday night, it was a concert night. I think it was the Michael Jackson tribute. Tribute, right. He said there were more people there than he’s ever seen since the park opened, since Town Center opened. Now I don’t know what the numbers could be.

Brian Johnson 0:23:04

We probably exceeded 5000 at the Town Green. I think that Queen concert that we had what, two years like the summer before COVID probably bigger, but yeah, we exceeded 5000 out in the Town Green. I mean it was well attended. It was a gorgeous day. In fact, unfortunately actually the end people were needing to leave because they didn’t dress properly because it got a little bit chilly.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:28

When the crazy weather it goes from 42 to like 79 and just like unbelievable. Like Northern California almost the must be that cooling effect. I forget which one it is but the council series is going great. A lot of stuff going on there. We’re going to have the Peachtree Corners Festival again at Town Center. I think that’s in September. But when all that’s done, I think part of what the city wants to do at this point is because the Green, the inner circle of that oval, has had so much traffic and bumpy areas in it and stuff. The city is going to take that down by 2ft.

Brian Johnson 0:24:09

Yeah. So look, we created the Town Green specifically to be a gathering spot, a community amenity where people want to go to. And we’ve done what cities will typically do to foster that. We have a concert series that brings people there, provides entertainment and opportunities for us in the community to see each other, to socialize. The playground is a great amenity out there, the fitness trail, so on and so forth. But the downside to that comes with things like we got to spend more money cleaning it up because there’s more people. Our custodial work out there has increased exponentially. The off duty police protection has increased. Trying to get kids off the playgrounds late at night when it’s closing at eleven. Those are good problems to have because a lot of people want to go out there. But one of the things that unfortunately we’re going to have to do to make sure that it looks the best is we’ve got a big two acre oval and that has a ring of sidewalk around it and inside it, it’s got all this grass. Well, the original soil that the sod was planted on top of is your typical Georgia clay. What’s happening is when it gets wet and you have a lot of weight on it, like whether it was two years ago, the festival was rained. The first year out there it rained, it was kind of a mess. We’ve had some concerts where it’s wet, you get on it and when the clay gets wet it gets squishy and so it squishes down and it gets uneven. And then when it dries it gets hard, but it then hardens with all the waves and undulation of all the weight. So one thing you’ve got is it started to get lumpy. And the other thing is clay doesn’t necessarily always facilitate grass growing. So we known that there was a risk that we had to do with this. But anyway, at the day after the last concert we got a project. We’re going to come in and we’re going to remove the sod and about 2ft of all the soil and the clay. Then we’re going to put in a drainage bed for it to drain the water better. We’re going to put in good soil, and then we’re going to attempt because we prefer grass over artificial, we’re going to attempt to put Sod back and go one more year, next year, and see if we can’t if there’s enough gaps between when you have large groups of people on it that the grass will grow well, and hopefully that’s the case. If not, we’ll ultimately go to turf. But either way we’ve got to improve the drainage. So that will happen right after the last concert. We’re also the original locations of the three. First call it playground equipment where you have two climbing things and you have that hill with the slide, right. That area is going to become a taut area, meaning playground equipment specifically for kids that are like four years and under so much lower, easier, safer type of playground stuff. So that’ll be kind of the todd area. Then if you want to consider the area where the Qantas and all the big stuff is kind of the intermediate, then if you feeling froggy you can go over to the fitness trail and some things there. Now we’re going to have to make some improvements to the fitness trail as well. For us to insure it, we’re going to have to put a fence around that area and there’s going to have to be some signage out there restricting it to people of a certain age or ability. Okay.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:13

Isn’t there insurance on there already?

Brian Johnson 0:28:16

There is, but what’s happening is the insurance company saying, look, you just opened up all this new playground equipment that is attracting a lot more people. Well, those kids especially, there’s a lot of unsupervised kids there. They then turn around and right there is this other stuff and they want to go and do it and they’re not either capable or old enough or under supervision. And so we’re going to have to it’ll stay there. We’ll make it look it’ll still be look unique. We’re kind of coming up with ideas on way to do that, but that’s coming. And then redoing the sod and the tot lot will start the day after the last compter. So we don’t interfere with any of that. It’ll be the fall but here maybe within a month we’re going to start construction of the dog park.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:11

Now where is that going to be in relation to stuff?

Brian Johnson 0:29:14

So if you’re standing on the town green staring at the stage, it’ll be to the left of Cinebistro in the woods. It’ll be almost alongside of Cinnabestro as you’re staring or if you want to consider it, the back of Cinnabestro if you’re going in bistro’s front door but.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:34

There’s a walkway that goes that winds out.

Brian Johnson 0:29:38

It’ll be where the dog park a little bit farther back. Probably the best way to get to the dog park is going to be to drive your car to the side surface parking lot for cinema. Okay, that’ll be the best way to enter it. And so we’re going to have a dog park, a pretty big dog park. Some of it will have two areas, one for bigger dogs, one for smaller ones. And then within each of those areas there’ll be some artificial turf and some natural area with certain little things for the dog and then seating area that are covered for the dog owners. And then we’re exploring putting in some sort of a call it a permanent stand, if you will. But it may be almost like operate like a bar or a beverage area where once you go inside the fenced area of the dog park you could go up to this area and get a drink.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:34

Okay, that sounds cool. All right. That’s probably one of the local businesses already. Or maybe another business would be there.

Brian Johnson 0:30:42

If we did it. We probably bid it out and see who wants to run it.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:47

Sure.

Brian Johnson 0:30:49

We’re certainly not going to, I’m not going to be pouring mixing drinks or anything. Yeah, there’s some good around here. Buckhead has a dog park that’s wildly successful, and they have a little mini bar that operates certain hours so that the dog owners go there and while they’re watching their dog and socializing, they can get a drink. This is why we created it. It’s a gathering space and hopefully some of this activity bleeds over into the forum. The forum started their phase one of parking spots and putting in more outdoor seating and outdoor amenity space. So they’re moving forward with their stuff. So a lot going on in that area because that’s our downtown and we want to make sure we support it.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:41

Definitely a lot of activity and even more stuff that’s going to be coming along that we’ll be talking about in further podcasts once the feasibility study has been finished with the Pickleball study and a bunch of other things also that’s happening, like the comprehensive plan because that comes to a head at some point, actually. When does the final report get put out?

Brian Johnson 0:32:05

August or September 1 of the two.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:08

So we’ll be covering that as well and talking about that on these podcasts. So we’ve come to the end of our time, I think, Brian, and don’t want to monopolize all your time.

Brian Johnson 0:32:18

Thank you.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:19

I do appreciate you being out with us and talking to us about these things. It’s good to get clarity and thank you for your input in the city’s point of view on Lululemon and the things going on as well as the stuff coming up. I mean, all exciting, all exciting things. So check out, our listeners here, check out LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com for a little bit more on what’s going on in the city. And our latest issue is out. It’s actually at locations like Ingles and Dunkin Donuts. It’s in a bunch of other places. It’s going to hit the mailbox in a few days, so check it out. There’s a lot of stuff on it. And Summer reading recommendations is the cover story, so see what your neighbors are recommending as far as what’s a good read this summer. Check that out. Hang in there with me as I close out. Thank you again for our lead sponsor, EV Remodeling, for being a sponsor of this and for Clear Wave Fiber for being joining us as a new sponsor and a great supporter for this coming year. But thank you all. Talk to you later.

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Podcast

How Peachtree Corners is Using Advanced Cameras, Drones, AI and Next-Gen Policing Tools, Plus More

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In this episode, we delve into the challenges faced by Peachtree Corners in addressing the rising incidence of vandalism in its Town Center and how the city is working to enhance community safety. Join Rico Figliolini and City Manager Brian Johnson, as they discuss the proactive measures being taken, such as the deployment of marshals, the implementation of advanced surveillance cameras with AI technology, and the focus on prevention and education. Discover how Peachtree Corners is using technology and community involvement to create a vibrant and secure environment for its residents and visitors. Don’t miss this insightful conversation on enhancing community safety in Peachtree Corners.

Plus, they discussed Peachtree Corners Town Center improvements (town green, dog park and fitness trail), Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners Criterium Road Race coming in April, and the planned roundabout on the Trader Joe’s side of the Forum.

Timestamp:
00:00:00 – Intro
00:04:09 – Addressing Vandalism and Crime with AI Surveillance
00:07:57 – Protecting the Community: Addressing Minor Offenses and Ensuring Safety
00:10:18 – The Use of Facial Recognition Technology in City Surveillance
00:14:50 – Ensuring Child Safety at the Town Green Playground
00:20:03 – Enhancing Safety with Surveillance Cameras and Technology
00:24:40 – The Unbelievable Work of the Marshals
00:27:36 – Exciting Updates and Events in Our Town
00:30:40 – The Ultimate Fitness Event: Bike Races, Running Races and More
00:35:29 – Improving Intersections for Safer Driving, East Jones Bridge and Peachtree Corner Circle
00:38:21 – Developments & Traffic Safety Measures in Progress
00:41:15 – Creating Affordable Housing Options in Peachtree Corners
00:43:07 – Closing

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:01

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life, and a series of podcasts, including this one, Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager. Hey, Brian, thanks for joining us.

Brian Johnson 0:00:11

Thanks for having me, Rico.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:13

Yeah, it’s always good to talk through what the city’s doing, things, upcoming development and all sorts of stuff. So let’s get right into the thick of it. That’s the first thing I want to talk about, because the marshals have been working at it for a month now. I think it’s been. It’s January, so about a month, maybe, although longer than that, because some of the stuff started before that.

Brian Johnson 0:00:38

Right?

Rico Figliolini 0:00:40

And I had a podcast recently with Edward Restrepo, the chief marshal. So you all should listen to that one. That was a pretty good podcast, if I could say that. But they’ve been here. They explained some of the technology they’re using at a recent southwest Gwinnett chamber meeting, and now I understand they’re actually in the midst of taking care of something that’s been going on now for a little while, vandalism, both at town center and some other places. So maybe you could fill us in a little bit about what’s going on.

Brian Johnson 0:01:15

So, you know, as a reminder, the marshals were brought in to know a force multiplier. In addition to Gwinnett County PD, which is still the primary law enforcement agency for the know us residents. We pay a millage rate to Gwinnett county to pay for that police protection here, so they’re still our primary police department, but the marshals are a supplement to, you know, it’s allowing us to focus their efforts on things that may be harder for Gwinnett county to respond to, whether it’s based on call volume or personnel constraints, or even, in some cases, the amount of importance they put on certain things. Organizationally, the west precinct commander still does report to a police chief who works out of an office way up north of Lawrenceville. So sometimes what’s important to the residents of this city don’t always correspond to the same level of importance. Know some of them. Now, that’s fine. But anyway, so the marshals, we bring them in to do that, and we have had something come up of late that did kind of meet this definition of an additional asset being used to focus on something that’s more important to us, and that is our town center and the vandalism that we have seen of late. If you think about all the work. Being done there and the commitment, financial. Commitment we’ve made to the town center, we have created a location that’s a gathering place for the community. So on one hand, it’s definitely working. The amount of playground equipment we have. Out there, we’re getting ready to finish what is really a world class obstacle course. We’ve got the grass in the town center or on the town green itself being redone so that it can handle rain. Better than it did. And it can also be greener and not have patches where we were struggling with last time before. We’ve got a dog park going in. We’ve got lots of shade structure. We’re doing all these things that invite people. That’s all great. But when you do that and you have lots of people, not every one. Of those people are good actors, right? And we have some bad actors. And we have had a lot of vandalism of late, tagging, graffiti, some cases just wanting destruction of property. Just like, somebody who felt like it was cool to go into the bathroom and rip out of the wall, the partitions in between the toilets.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:41

It’s amazing. Yes, it’s just amazing. Just to think of the thought process and anger they must have in something to go do that. Just ridiculous.

Brian Johnson 0:04:53

I mean, the fire pit we have out there is constantly being jacked with. People think it’s fun to put stuff into the flames. I mean, it’s just never, you know. As you can imagine, again, based on, like, say, call volume or the level of crime that Gwinnett county police officers are dealing with, graffiti and other stuff are not always as high a priority. However, from our standpoint, we think it. Is in the context of what we. Don’t want to have, is our town center develop a reputation for being a place where it’s kind of the wild west for these type of people who think it’s okay to do, to tag. And so we put our marshals on it, and as I have expected them to do, they went in, assessed the. Situation, and came back with some technology. Options for us to use to be an added tool at their use, we have put in additional cameras that have unique capabilities, including, again, cameras that can send messages to our marshals. If people are in the view of the camera for a certain amount of time or there are certain numbers of. People in the camera, these cameras are. Able to identify whether something is a person or a vehicle.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:34

Is that using a little bit of AI technology?

Brian Johnson 0:06:37

It is. And so we have AI being used to do that. And a good example might be the stairwells in the parking deck. Stairwells are infamous for, especially kids doing things, because it’s a combined space that doesn’t have a long view from afar for other people to see them doing something. And so we put cameras in there, and those cameras have AI, and they’ll end up sending messages when it’s essentially taking activity of people in the stairwell, that they’re there longer than you would. Normally see them in there, and then. It’ll send a message. And then our marshals can look at their phone or their computer and assess whether or not it’s somebody who stopped and they’re tying their shoe, or they can actually.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:33

Because they can actually see a live video feed from their stay. Well, yes.

Brian Johnson 0:07:38

When they get the message, then immediately that’s the live feed of the camera. And then some of these cameras we have in there have speakers on them, and so then they’ll be able to talk through and say, hey, I see what you’re doing. You need to move on. You need to do whatever. So that’s just one example of some of the things that we’re doing to help out. It is complicated when we have caught kids tagging or destroying property because they’re minors. So when it comes to prosecuting them, there’s a different process for minors. We’re not, particularly in cases where it’s the first time for a kid having done something, we’re not wanting to ruin any kid’s career or anything. We’re more worried about a, prevention or. B, at least putting to a degree. The fear of God into a kid who did it the first time, telling. Them that, look, you’re not able to. Go out there and do things without people seeing you like you think. And if you get caught doing this. Again, then the city may end up pursuing a charge of some sort. Trying to work with the parents, bringing the parents in and showing them evidence of what their kid’s doing and saying, hey. Do you want your kid to be banned from going to the town center? Which is another thing that we can do. And if they go back, they would actually be trespassing. So again, we’re using tools to help.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:24

But there’s no facial recognition right now as far as being able to keep. That in the database to say, because. That was the thing. I think at some of the concert venues, they were doing facial recognition to make sure to keep out bad players. Which is not a bad thing. But obviously, some people think that’s a. Bad thing to do, that we have not.

Brian Johnson 0:09:49

That can be a common. Function that is used at certain event venues. You’re right. We’ve talked about it before, where people walking past a certain point, the cameras taking facial recognition and comparing it against people who have warrants out for their arrest and doing it that way. We have not deployed that technology. I have not wanted to get into the cross that threshold or get into personally identifiable information being stored on city servers. So we have not deployed those functions, despite the fact that really facial recognition software and technology is not particularly innovative anymore. So most cameras have the ability to. Have that function on there. It’s just a matter of software that gets certain points on a base and then compares it back to a database that has the same things. So it’s not particularly cutting edge technology anymore. It’s just not used wholesale because of the sensitivity of facial recognition information.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:05

I mean, all these camera systems and stuff, everything’s evolving and changing. I just saw something on love and alive that just came across this morning. About ring now saying that if video. Wants to be had by police, they actually have to serve a warrant now for the video to be released. Now, I don’t know how that works. Me owning ring. If they’re saying that because I’m using it through their system, it’s on their. Cloud, that disrupts the access unless you have a warrant. There wasn’t too much. Eleven live didn’t cover too much detail on that.

Brian Johnson 0:11:49

But I believe it’s still like our connect PTC program, which is the one where you register your cameras. I do believe that if you voluntarily. Give permission for police to pull feed. From your camera, or merely just say, I have a camera, and if there’s ever a crime in the area, and you think that my camera feed might help you, here’s how to contact me, and then you can contact me and ask for. And I believe both of those will still supersede the need for a warrant. Because you voluntarily given police department permission.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:30

Correct. I think that’s where that was going, that if the individual homeowner didn’t want to do it, it cannot be forced unless you provide a search warrant or warrant on it. But that just shows how technology as advanced as we’re getting, the police, the. Marshals were sharing with us a few things as well, technology wise, that are. Being used or going to be used or being tested right now. Like bola wraps. Taser ten versus the normal taser that has two prongs. The taser ten has ten because as they were explaining, and as anyone can imagine, two wires being hit into perpetrator. May not hit the right way. So you’re going to need several shots. And that’s why the taser ten will give you up to ten shots to be able to get that connection. And electrification, that’s needed.

Brian Johnson 0:13:22

Yeah, you could be wearing a thick coat or body armor or whatever, and the leads don’t actually get into your skin. On the town center stuff, on the. Vandalism stuff, God forbid we have to. Do use that, but we’re wanting to do is capture crimes being committed. Oftentimes it’s pretty easy for us to get a name to a face, because. A lot of times we just have to ask around and people who have. Kids that age, or they know themselves or they coached them or whatever, then you’re like, oh, I know that kid. We’ve had one where it was a kid that I coached many years ago. And I saw it, I knew who the kid was most of the time. The people who are there doing it are people who live in our community. That’s the sad part.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:26

I was going to ask you that.

Brian Johnson 0:14:28

It’s also sad that there’s not more self policing. I wish that there were more adults out there that were policing the actions of their own kids or others. We have kids wandering off. A parent will have a kid that’s. Like two years old, they’ll take them. Out to the town green, and then the parent sits down and they’re talking or looking on their phone, and then the kid wanders off and they’re on playground equipment that are beyond their abilities. But the parent thinks that it’s a. Babysitter and they just let the playground become the babysitter. And then you run into problem where a kid falls and they shouldn’t have been there first place.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:11

Yeah, you’re right. People don’t take responsibility like that. Instead, I see it every day when I go out. It’s unbelievable. And in certain places you really want to keep your eye on your child. Because people can get abducted. It happens every day in the city metro area of Atlanta.

Brian Johnson 0:15:35

And even the fence, the wooden fence that’s going around where the fitness or. Obstacles were in the woodline there, that. Is being done because we needed to secure those stations away from kids wandering in without the parents would just let them wander in there and then get on stuff that again was beyond their ability. So our insurance company said, you’ve got to contain that. So now when the towers go in. Because since it’s in the woodline, we decided to make the fence look more like a frontier fort. So we’ve got the little fort towers. Going in on the corners, and once. That happens, you will only be able to get into it. At two locations and you’ll have to walk through a point in which there’s a lot of signage saying if you’re not of a certain age or haven’t signed a waiver, you’re not to be in here at all. Now, that won’t mean that people won’t sneak in there. It’s not going to be gated. You don’t have to have access or anything. But if somebody ignores it and goes in there and gets hurt, we can’t.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:51

Be blamed because you have a disclaimer right there that’s so sad that people have that you have to do that. That’s like plastic. Don’t put it over your head because you’ll suffocate. The warnings that on just plastic coverings to pillowcases and other product that it needs that because no one’s intelligent to know that you put the bag over your head, you might suffocate. So your five year old goes on something, maybe he’s climbing up and all of a sudden it’s 15ft up because maybe he’s that good on a rope and then falls, God forbid. Yeah, you are right.

Brian Johnson 0:17:29

That would happen. They sprain their ankle or break it. And the parents like the city, you’re at fault. And we’re kind of like, no, we’re not. Yes, but anyway, that’s why we’re doing that. But regardless, at the end of the day, here’s the deal. We created the town center, the town green area, to be a gathering place. It is. We continue to put resources in there to make it so. And we’ll deal with the people that are out there in the way that we are. But you could argue it’s a good problem to have. It does show that the town center has become a place where people want. To go hang out for sure.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:18

I mean, these concerts that pull in 4000 people, like you said, playground equipment.

Brian Johnson 0:18:24

I mean, we’re going to have the ability to have the tot lot for really small kids that’s going in right now. Then you’ve got kind of the middle range older kid playground and then certain age, you could go into the obstacle course there. You got all that kind of stuff. The town green. Even in a normal day or evening that doesn’t have programmed stuff going on, it’s a great place to hang out. There’s lots of tables, chairs, shaded areas to sit and hang out. And then the dog park will be. Done in about a month and you’ll. Be able to take your dog there. There’s a small dog and large dog lot. And then we’re going to have the bone bar.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:10

Okay, so that’s still going. That’s going to be in concession.

Brian Johnson 0:19:14

We will have something to wear. Not sure what hours or days it will operate, but at some point somebody will operate something that if your dog is at the dog park, you can. Get a beverage while you’re there and. Not even have to leave the confines of the dog park. You can just go right up to the bone bar inside the fenced area of the dog park.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:37

It’s going to be a busy place. I mean, once the apartment complex behind Chase and HW, they’re broken ground, they’re working there also. That’s going to be within a year. I guess they’ll probably be pretty much. Up and talk about cameras and stuff. That’ll probably be camera-ed up also. I think as these things get built out. Right. There’s going to be more cameras in the system that the marshals can use. To keep us all safe, right?

Brian Johnson 0:20:11

Absolutely. And also patrolling as soon as the construction is done, we’ve got a police golf cart that they can ride around necessary. We also have a police ebike for. The off duty police officer or marshal. To be using to make their rounds. And then the substation there has the ability to pull up any camera anywhere on the facility. So even when they’re not walking around kind of showing the flag, they can still have their eyes on all this stuff. And so we have to use technology to help us and be an additional resource, and we will. But hopefully the word starts to get out that if you’re going to get. Into some delinquent activities, don’t do it. There because we will have video of you doing it. And we will use that video.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:15

And not just there. I mean, Prestrepa was talking about, there’s. Mailbox break ins that happen in some of the apartment complexes. And there’s certain times of year that it happens. And some returning players, because it’s their business, this is what they do. This is how they make a living. So it’s not just they’re doing it one time, they’re doing it maybe at several locations. And he talked to us about how. The system of cameras has helped them find sometimes perpetrators within 8 hours or 24 hours, depending on what it is. What the crime was, where it might. Have taken weeks before, and you might not have been able to find who it was.

Brian Johnson 0:21:58

Even like we had the Carnegie jewelry store got robbed.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:03

Yes.

Brian Johnson 0:22:03

Not too long ago. Our marshals identified the car within an hour of it happening. And then they were able to trace the car down to an apartment complex in Atlanta. And by talking to having detectives do some work in the apartment area, we’re able to identify the people who were in the car. And so it’s because of the license plate recognition cameras and our inter service cooperation with other jurisdictions and their camera systems allow us to do this. And as a result, we’ve solved a lot of the bigger, more notorious crimes that we’ve had happen here because of those cameras.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:55

The technology, the cameras, the detective work that these guys are doing, though, too, because it takes critical thinking to go through some of this. And I can see the passion that they have when they talk about what they do and the technology they’re using. About being able to trace a criminal. And finding out certain things. There was one where I think two. Criminals, it was two of them looked. Like there were women robbing a postal. Part of at an apartment complex. By the way, this particular complex decided to put cameras in, I guess, because too many things were happening there. And they were able to find out that essentially they went at women and. They were wearing disguises. Even with those disguises, they were able to find them.

Brian Johnson 0:23:43

Well, using the Carnegie jewelry robbery as. An example, we had a camera that caught them. They were walking away from the camera, so we didn’t have a video of their face.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:00

Right.

Brian Johnson 0:24:01

But we caught them walking away and then getting into the car. Know, we got the car. But one of our deputy marshals, Henry Mesa, was watching the video of them walking away, and he noticed that one. Of the guys walking gate was a. Little bit abnormal in that he didn’t seem to swing one of his arms the same way how they swing.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:30

That’s right.

Brian Johnson 0:24:31

And it occurred to him that that. Guy may have hurt his arm, may have been in a sling of some sort. But again, we only saw them walking. Away, so it was only to their back. And so he put in the be on the lookout that there may be somebody that has an injured, I believe it was right arm. And sure enough, when the detectives went to that apartment complex, identified the guys that were in there, and they apprehended. Them, one of them just had recently. Had surgery on an arm and it. Had been in a cast.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:08

See, that’s what I mean.

Brian Johnson 0:25:10

It’s just unbelievable how these guys can. Take video and really look into aspects of it and pull out unique things that can be. What is the determining factor of it being that person?

Rico Figliolini 0:25:26

I mean, just listening to Restrepo and then seeing the presentation they did at Southwest Gwinnett chamber and talking about social media. And know gangsters like to post their stuff, too, apparently because they want to show, they want to fan out the money, the guns, the car, in fact, two cars. I think in the particular case that. They were able to track down the person because of some of the cars that were in the pictures even so, they’re using everything, because today. You can use everything, and you should use everything you can.

Brian Johnson 0:26:00

And makes our marshals unique is because. They are not the primary law enforcement agency. They are not getting dispatched by 911. To calls, so they’re not distracted with. Those kind of things. Know, Gwinnett is where Gwinnett could have somebody working on a case, something, and then a call comes in, and they’ve got to stop what they’re doing, and they’ve got to go and respond to it. Marshals don’t have that. So Chief Restrepo is able to focus their efforts on what’s important to us and to really fill those gaps in. So they’ve been an unbelievable resource, even to date, and they’ve only been really. Up and running with the policies that. I needed to have in place to. Kind of cut them loose. They’ve only been had, really the first of the year, period of time. They have been instrumental in solving a number of crimes.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:06

The more they do, the better it is, because mostly all of these criminals. Have come, I shouldn’t say all of them. A lot of them have come from like, Clayton county or Atlanta. They’re not even local players. Correct.

Brian Johnson 0:27:20

There is not a know. The vandalism of the town center might be an example where there’s local. But the major crime, violent crime being committed here are not Peachtree corners residents. They are criminal elements coming from parts outside the city, coming to the city because that they know that we have people with resources that make it to where it is interest to the criminal element.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:48

Yeah. Easy targets for them. Yeah. All right. Why don’t we talk? We’ll keep it short on some of. These things coming up, but I just. Want to go through it a little bit. One is we know the dog park will be ready. Sounds like within a month. The closing off of the fitness trail. It’s almost done. Just have to put up the towers, I guess. And so by the end of April.

Brian Johnson 0:28:18

March, I guess all the town center. Stuff, the town green, turf replacement, drainage and turf replacement, the tot lot, the obstacle course fencing, and the dog park, will all be done by the end of March. Excuse me, because may is our first concert. All of this stuff needs to be done beforehand and we want the turf to at least have a month of nobody walking on it so it gets set. But all of this will be done by the end of April, and the town green will be wide open at that point. We’ll start our summer concert series.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:04

Cool. Yeah. And I hear it’s going to be a big one. Leading off, we got a good one.

Brian Johnson 0:29:09

We got a really good mix of types of music, some actual bands, some cover bands of big names. It’s going to be a fun season.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:22

It’s going to be great. I think every year more things are. Coming, more things are being added. So all good. Like the Criterion road race, curiosity labs annual. Started last year. Had a really good start. Did rain that night. I think it was Wednesday that day. But still had almost 300 people. Had a good turnout. This year it’s going to be April 28th, I think. Is it Saturday? So it’s going to be right at the tail end of speed week. Or is it beginning of speed week?

Brian Johnson 0:29:54

The middle of speed week. Yeah.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:04

That’s a Sunday. The 28th.

Brian Johnson 0:30:06

It’s a Sunday. Yeah, it’s April 28th.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:08

Right.

Brian Johnson 0:30:09

It’s a Sunday. Now, there’s a couple of differences. It’ll start at ten. It’ll probably be over around eight. But not only are we having the bike races of different skill classes, everything from amateur all the way up to pro, we’re actually going to do a professional invitational road race, meaning a running race. We’re going to do.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:37

Really?

Brian Johnson 0:30:38

Yes, we’re going to do a mile road run. It’s going to be a tough one because it’s an uphill course, essentially, but we’re going to have that. So for runners out there, you’re going to be able to do that. If you’re not a cyclist, but you’re a runner, we’ll have a road race, and we’re also bringing in a bunch of kids. Stuff like bouncy houses, those things. So for parents who want to bring their kids out and if they’re too young to necessarily sit and watch all of the race, there’s going to be some things for kids. And then we’ll have food trucks out here. Then we’ll have lots of different vendors that are in the space of exercise at some level. We’ll have everything from bike manufacturers, maybe shoe companies for running those kind of. Things, all the way down to some. Of the recovery type of things like cryotherapy and spa treatments and everything. Definitely some technology within the vulnerable road user space. Again, it’s a curiosity lab event, so we want to make sure we highlight the technology that’s out there to help both runners and cyclists be safer. So it’s going to be a great event.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:08

Yeah, it sounds like it. Way more than last year. A lot more stuff happening. The other thing is, I think Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival is coming back later in the year. I heard about that. So that’s cool. That’s the second year running that’ll be coming. The city is working on developing a new app to be able to. That’s a flexible app that the city could grow into. Do you want to spend a few minutes just telling us what’s going to be in that app, at least at the beginning? What are you looking at doing with it?

Brian Johnson 0:32:41

I think we all know that oftentimes the first and maybe even many cases, the primary vehicle you use to get to a website or to do something is through your phone. So if you want people to find that way to get to, say, your website or to get you information is user friendly, you got to have a very good app. Our app has limitations that are preventing us from doing some of the things that we want to be able to do. And so we’re right now talking to some companies to make sure that we have kind of the wireframe that is the bones of an app. We need one that’s much more robust for us to be able to do everything from geofencing to where we can push notifications to somebody as soon as they hit our city limits to the. Ability to push us more pictures. If somebody sees something out in the community and they want to report it, we want them to be able to post many pictures and videos and send it directly to us if they see something happening. We want there to be more interaction with our marshals through the app. We want weather to be able to come through it. We want Waze and Google Maps to be able to come through it. We have a lot of different things that we want to use. So that Peachtree corners stakeholder, whether they. Live or work or play here, could download the app. And within the app you have a one stop shop for everything.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:25

Cool. And they should be able to even. Maybe at some point check permits or. Maybe house permits maybe. Or pay for things on there.

Brian Johnson 0:34:34

Yes, absolutely.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:37

Good. The other thing is that there’s development. Going on, as always in any city. That’s growing and traffic has to be attended to. I know that the Medlock Bridge Road. 141 intersection where CVS is, I think that looks like that’s all pretty much done over there.

Brian Johnson 0:34:58

Well, no, that’s Bush Road and Medlock.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:00

Bush Road. That’s what I meant, Bush Road.

Brian Johnson 0:35:02

Now, we do have the intersection improvement at Medlock. East Jones Bridge. In 141 right, we have an additional turn lane onto East Jones Bridge heading south or right turn. We have a deeper stacking on East Jones Bridge for the left turns. And then we’re going to end up on the southbound side of 141. Coming out of Johns Creek, when you. Hit just past Wellington Lake, there starts. To be a lot of, call it deceleration turn lane into, like, suburban medical Ingalls, the forum. We’re taking all those and making it a through lane. So when you hit Wellington Lake heading. South just past it, you will ultimately have three lanes of travel all the way up over the hill until you hit Peachtree corner circle.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:06

Right.

Brian Johnson 0:36:06

The purpose of that is to try to flush cars through that busy stretch faster because that’s where it can get backed up. And so that’s happening. We’re working with GDOT and we’re in right of way acquisition right now of some additional right of way. So that’ll help those intersections.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:30

And along that way at Peachtree Corner Circle. Now, when you make a right by what’s going to be opening soon, the renewed QT. Brand new building, brand new. Everything brand new there. So when you make a right turn. Eventually it’s being designed now, I guess. And design, you said, is the roundabout. That’s going to be by the trader Joe’s entrance of the forum.

Brian Johnson 0:36:56

That’s correct. And so, you know, right now, if you come out of the forum there at Trader Joe’s and you want to turn left, it’s not a particularly. And so we’re going to do is put a roundabout. So if you want to turn left, you’re technically turning right and then just going right into a circle and then coming out on there. So that’ll make it much safer for everybody there. So there’ll be one going in there.

Rico Figliolini 0:37:26

Right. So that’s coming. I wondered about that because at some. Point when I heard it originally, I was like, why? It’s only 400 feet or yards, I guess, feet from the intersection. But does make sense because I’ve sat. There sometimes wondering why people are playing chicken, see if they can make that left turn before a car comes down. And God knows I’ve seen at least, at least one, if not two accidents. A year right over there, because someone. Decided they had to make a left. When they should have just waited.

Brian Johnson 0:38:01

So this will make it to where. Technically nobody’s making a left. Well, they’re actually just entering directly into a roundabout and they just go around it. That’s how they make their left.

Rico Figliolini 0:38:16

Yeah.

Brian Johnson 0:38:16

Those are the kind of things that should move traffic through more consistently and safely than it currently is.

Rico Figliolini 0:38:24

Cool. So that is coming into play. Obviously, at another time, we’ll talk about this better. But obviously there’s more developments. Developers wanting to apply for more developments, more apartments. I know that there’s one that’s being looked at off, I think, Da Vinci court, maybe. That could be 200 plus units. There’s some other ones being looked at. I think I just saw in the agenda this past. I don’t know if that was the first read or second read. 75 townhouses. Yeah.

Brian Johnson 0:39:03

That’s off of engineering, Engineering drive. Right. Nine plus acres.

Rico Figliolini 0:39:09

And they’re looking to put 75 units there. Right.

Brian Johnson 0:39:13

But, Rico, that’s an important. I’m glad you bring that up. That’s a great example of what mayor and council are doing in that parcel, which is basically at the corner of 141 in engineering, on the west side of the road, across from the liquor store.

Rico Figliolini 0:39:32

Correct.

Brian Johnson 0:39:34

It’s one parcel in, so you can’t really see it from 141 because there’s trees right there, and then there’s an open surface parking lot, literally at the corner. It’s the very next lot. But anyway, they came before mayor and. Council last year with a product that had apartments, and city council denied that, and then they came back and worked. With staff, and now they’re coming back with an equity product and less density. It went from like 150 or 75. Apartment units and got denied. And then they came back and they’ve got about 75 townhome units. So mayor and council are still. While we may have a lot of these coming in front of us, they by no means are like, oh, sure, sounds good.

Rico Figliolini 0:40:33

No.

Brian Johnson 0:40:34

Very strategic in location use type of. Housing unit, all that kind of stuff. So we’ll have more of these to follow. It’s the way things go. But we’ll be very dutiful in our assessment of each and every one on. A case by case basis.

Rico Figliolini 0:40:57

Good to see that. Good to see. Yeah. I’ve even heard maybe possible condos versus. Apartments, which would be, I think, better. Right. Equity owned is always better.

Brian Johnson 0:41:08

Yeah. You want to have diverse housing stock, but you don’t want to have too. Much of any one thing. And that goes for apartments. That even goes for single family detached residential. Not everybody can afford houses in Peachtree Corners right now or wants to do it so you have to be careful. Though, about what type of housing units you allow to go where. And that’s the challenge.

Rico Figliolini 0:41:36

Yeah, we’ve discussed that before, even affordable housing. We talked a little bit about that, that the city, the council, planning department. Are looking at affordable housing programs. We’re truly affordable how that would work. Yeah.

Brian Johnson 0:41:51

And when we say affordable, we’re just talking about putting some mechanism in there. That takes an equity product and doesn’t. Allow the market to just jack the prices way up. It’s kind of capped to a point where it makes it affordable for somebody who wants to own, just like maybe. Some of the people in the education. Profession or public safety, police and fire. Those are ones that, unfortunately, those professions don’t necessarily make a ton of money, but great to have more of them be able to live in the city. And so that’s our focus as we’re assessing what our options are, for sure.

Rico Figliolini 0:42:36

I mean, living an hour away from somewhere is always a difficult part for. Them, their family and those they serve. We’ve been close to 40 minutes. Appreciate the time, Brian, that you give me every month to talk about these things.

Brian Johnson 0:42:52

Absolutely.

Rico Figliolini 0:42:54

This is always a good conversation. There’s always stuff I don’t know. I mean, it’s good to do this. And to meet you all at different. Times also, and having city council people sometimes on these podcasts also talking about what they’re seeing and doing. You all just had the swearing in. Too, this past Tuesday. I think we did.

Brian Johnson 0:43:16

We had four council members sworn in. Most notable is we have our first african american female council member, Laura Douglas, who was sworn in. And so. We have a new council member. She took Lori Christopher’s old seat after Lori retired. And so we’re excited about bringing her on board. And then we had three other incumbents that ran and they got sworn in. So back to the business of the people, definitely.

Rico Figliolini 0:43:55

Thank you, Brian. I appreciate you being with us and talking through this stuff. Everyone, thank you for joining us. Till next time, Peachtree Corners Life. Visit us at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com the website, to find out more information on a regular basis. And pick up the latest issue of Peachtree Corners magazine and Southwest Gwinnett magazine. We’re actually working on the next issue. International Foods and Flavors is the cover story for our next issue of Peachtree Corners magazine. You would be surprised maybe, about the different types of food and venues we have here, from west african to cuban. To venezuelan to just a ton of different type of variety of restaurants and foods here. So check it out and appreciate you being with us. Bye.

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Podcast

Garrett McCurrach: Envisioning the Future of Urban Logistics and Delivery

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How does an autonomous underground logistics system revolutionize city delivery? What makes Pipedream’s approach fast, reliable, affordable, and remarkably emission-less? Join our live simulcast podcast of UrbanEBB, with Garrett McCurrach, CEO of Pipedream, and dive into the world of hyper-logistics.

Garrett shares his journey from mechanical engineering to developing an invisible network that could change the urban landscape. Discover how Pipedream makes deliveries seamless and efficient, transforming how we receive everything from food to daily essentials.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore a future where city deliveries are streamlined and sustainable. Tune in for an eye-opening discussion on the next wave of urban innovation with your host, Rico Figliolini.

Timestamp:

0:00:00 – Introduction and welcome.
0:01:00 – Introduction to Pipedream as a startup.
0:01:20 – Garrett McCurrach’s entrepreneurial background and role as VP of Business Development at Martin Bionics
0:04:19 – Focus on logistics and the importance of access to delivery services.
0:06:33 – Introduction to the hub and spoke model used by Pipedream.
0:10:40 – The goal is to make delivery more efficient and cost-effective.
0:12:16 – Pipedream system working in Peachtree Corners.
0:15:40 – Challenges faced during the testing phase.
0:16:01 – How technology has evolved over the years.
0:17:52 – The evolution of Pipedream’s business over the past three years.
0:21:16 – Hiring individuals based on curiosity rather than age.
0:24:09 – Potential expansions into other industries and markets.
0:28:23 – Teaser about a new business collaboration with a test site for instant pickup in Peachtree Corners.
0:29:06 – Closing remarks

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of UrbanEbb, a brand new podcast from Peachtree Corners Life magazine and from Southwest Gwinnett magazine, I have today a special guest with me, the CEO of Pipedream, Garrett McCurrach. Thank you, Garrett, for being with.

Garrett McCurrach 0:00:58

Absolutely. Super excited.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:00

Yeah, this is a good way for UrbanEbb to discover a bit more about what’s going on in our small cities here in Peachtree Corners. You’re a startup, actually, that’s been around for about three and a half years, and you’re based out of Oklahoma, if I got that correct.

Garrett McCurrach 0:01:15

Originally we were based out of Oklahoma City, and then I’ve moved to Austin in the last year.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:20

Oh, wow. Okay, cool. Great place, Austin, Texas. So you’ve been. You’re an entrepreneur. I’ve seen online a few things that some startups that you were involved with, you were a VP of business development at Martin Bionics. So you have a terrific entrepreneurial background, if you will, for a young person coming into this business, in a logistics business, actually, which is what pipe dream is about. Right? Hyper logistics, if you will. But tell us, before you dive into that, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background.

Garrett McCurrach 0:01:55

So I’m a mechanical engineer. That’s what I went to school for. And realized that there’s so many things just not on. Not just the engineering side, but on the business side that goes into changing how things are done. So after I got done with engineering school, I decided not to take a job right away, and I figured I needed to learn business, and so just started building apps to make rent and learned to code. Just started building things for small businesses, things that help them with their day to day and use that. Everything I learned from there, and

I was VP of Bizdev at modern bionics. I’ve always wanted to do prosthetics. It’s really what I went to engineering school for. And after that, just really kind of used that time to think about, okay, what is the one big thing that could spend the next decade of my life on something that is. I wanted to find something that was so important that even if I spend a decade on it and it doesn’t work, but something we learn helps someone else make it work, that’s ten years of my life well spent so around. And there’s not a lot of things that you can do that with. You have payment. Apps are great, but they’re not really changing the way we live. They’re not making people’s lives better. And logistics is just that thing that is so core to how we live. And it’s the thing that separates whether someone has access to something or not, just the cost of delivery. I don’t quite make enough to access some delivery things, but I can get medication delivered and groceries delivered. And if we all had access to that, if everyone had access to laundry and grocery and medication, and then even new product lines like tools and clothes and closed rental, if we can make delivery really cheap, we can just provide that access to more people. And that was just something that we were really passionate about and is going to take a lot of work over the next decade to get there and really locked into that industry as being the thing that we could really make an impact on.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:19

Interesting. I was listening to something on TikTok. You could get lost on there, right? So it was an interview with Bezo, and he was saying the reason he got into, what he got into was that he saw growth, e commerce, and he went out, he picked out categories, and he said the biggest category was books. A million books at any given time. Right? So you probably have seen the same video about. So, finding the right category, the right product. I can appreciate what you’re saying, because startups, people think, come out of the blue sometimes, and they go, they look at Shark tank and they think, wow, it’s like they’re going to be millionaires within a year. They don’t understand the suffering and the blood, sweat and tears that entrepreneurs have to go through. And years, like you said, it could be a decade, you might end up somewhere else, right? Because Instagram started as one thing, ended up as something else. Twitter started as a service to find the right podcast, ended up what it was. So different companies evolve. And I look at yours and I’ve done some work on it, and I just see, even if I don’t think about the tunnel part, everyone likes a tunnel. Elon Musk loves tunnels, I guess. But I could see where this can go, especially when you talk about delivery at restaurants or within certain areas where you have a point, because I think one of your interviews, and we’ll get into that talked about this is not going from just one single point to another point. This is going from a hub property to another hub. Because this way you have a place like Wendy’s, which you guys are working with, the point of delivery right outside the store, but also being part of this, where it’s going through a system, heading into a campus of office buildings where someone doesn’t have to leave their office building because that lunch, that whatever starts out as lunch, but I could see it being products and other things being delivered within that. So tell us, I’m talking too much, but tell us a bit about how that works exactly and where you are with.

Garrett McCurrach 0:06:33

So, you know, when you get something delivered today, we’ll use food as an example. I think food is really interesting because what Amazon did with back then, it know, three to five day delivery, they saw books as this really interesting way to start that industry because a bookstore can’t contain all the books in the world. And so you really need this big catalog of a bunch of books that you can send to people. And that was the perfect, they call it a beachhead for Amazon. And then they expanded into other categories. And then we see food as kind of being that same thing where there’s so much customer demand for having food delivered and that customer demand is already there. It doesn’t have to be created. We all love getting food delivered, and we all hate how expensive it is and how much it just seems to just add up and add up and add up as you’re adding things. And then by the time you get to your delivery, you’re like, oh, how did it get to be $50 to get my $10 cheeseburger delivered? And so it’s a great beach ad for us. So I’ll use that example. But you have a doordash driver who is dispatched. They go to a restaurant and there is 15 to 20 other orders sitting on a shelf. And they go through the orders, they grab the one that they’re going to deliver, they go all the way to your house, they drop it off, and then they go out to another restaurant that is another three, 4 miles away, pick up one other order, drive it to another house. And if you think about if we did nationwide delivery that way, delivery would be impossible. There’s no way know going back to thinking about Amazon, if you had one delivery driver go and pick up a book, travel across the country and drop it off with me, that would be impossible. And so we use this hub and spoke model where there’s a delivery driver who goes to a warehouse, picks up all the books that are being delivered that day. They drive to a hub, they drop it off, all those books disperse out to the hub that’s nearest to me, and a delivery driver goes and picks up all the books that need to be delivered that day. And then they go and they do what is called the milk run and drop it off at a bunch of different houses. And so it’s really interesting. Logistics has always kind of mirrored each other on the different scales. So global logistics has always worked how national logistics has worked, and national logistics has always worked the same way that last mile works, and they all kind of use the same truths, and the hub and spoke model being kind of that main one, but with instant delivery, like doordash and Uber eats, they’ve not followed that model. And it’s because that infrastructure doesn’t exist. And so what Pipedream is doing is creating that hub and spoke model for within cities so that they can take advantage of the same efficiencies of being able to deliver things from hub to hub while not foregoing their fast delivery time. So you need a hub and spoke model that is very fast. You can still get things delivered in under 15 minutes, but with more efficiency. Instead of. I think our children will look at food delivery today and they’ll see six pack of chicken nuggets driving in a 2000 pound car be like, that’s kind of funny that we’re using a car that huge to deliver something so small and just make everything more efficient. I think sometimes people look at us and other autonomous modalities as well and say, you’re replacing delivery drivers. And I think for a really long time, over the next decade at least, it’s just going to make them more efficient. So instead of delivering one delivery at a time, they can deliver five, six, seven deliveries at a time. And so that’s really for us, is we just want to make that delivery to you more efficient. We want to keep it on the same time schedule. We still want it dropped off at your door, but we want to make that cart. When you get to order your delivery, we want you to go, oh no, that’s really cheap. We’ll do that all the time because it’s just as cheap as going to get the food myself.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:40

Yeah, I can see that. I mean, I have a family of five in the house, right? So three of them, because of COVID and stuff, they’re all living home. And we have a Doordash subscription, right? Because otherwise too expensive if you just do it off one at a time. And I love the example that someone gave is like, the lunch you order. If it’s just for one person, you’re paying double that cost because of delivery. Now, if you’re doing five people, it’s a little different, maybe, and you also have a subscription, but it is what it is. There’s different services that also want to get into this space, right? You have drone deliveries, you have other things going on. Robotics delivery, like the autonomous mini vehicle that comes up. And I’ve seen experimented on college campuses. And of course, you leave people that have too much time on their hands, they’ll pick up that robot and they’ll put it somewhere else, maybe, or other things that can happen to that. But you’re talking about closed end system food coming from one place to another in a closed system until it gets to where it’s going. During COVID we all had issues about deliveries and problems like that. This is one reason why there are safety seals on lunch bags and items had to be done, because people are people sometimes, and things could go badly fast. The US is a closed end system. Going from like, Wendy’s or a hub, let’s say there going straight to, let’s say. I think the way this is being an experiment to going right to curiosity lab in the city of peace for corners. Right about a mile away, I think, or so.

Garrett McCurrach 0:12:16

Yeah, about a. Yeah.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:18

And you guys are all done with that’s at work now, I believe.

Garrett McCurrach 0:12:21

Yes, sir. Yeah, it’s been working for a couple of months. We’ve been working on it.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:25

Okay, so you’ve learned a lot in this process. This is the first city that you’ve done like this, I think.

Garrett McCurrach 0:12:30

Oh, yeah, we’ve learned a ton. And that was the goal. We have fallen in love with Petrie corners. It’s such an amazing city filled with just really kind people. And what I love about Petrie corners is, and the reason that we picked it was, one, it’s a tech forward city. The region that we’re doing the system in has a lot of other things as well. You have the self driving cars. You have some of those delivery. Those small delivery sidewalk robots.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:02

Right.

Garrett McCurrach 0:13:03

And that’s one and then two. It’s a really interesting environment as well. You drive around petro corners all the time, as I have too. It gets a little hilly and it’s a little windy and you all have these big, giant, gorgeous trees. And the first time I went, I was like, man, I don’t know how on earth do they grow trees that big and that green? And it’s because it rains ton. And so it’s a great water environment too, to make sure that we have the procedures and the reliability to handle extreme water conditions, the windy roads, the soil conditions. It was just a really good testing ground for us to kind of learn the hard way. We could have done a flat, very dry climate and it would have been really easy, but we wanted to really pressure test the system.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:55

Yeah, I don’t blame you see that. Because one of the thoughts that came across me was, it’s underground. How is it going to be sealed? Is it going to be healthy, if you will, safe that way? So a bunch of questions in my mind would come up like that. And also, like you said, the city has helped you with red tape and stuff as far as permitting because God knows utilities and everything else that’s involved when you’re digging into ground, because there’s been times where people have cut the power lines or cut a line they shouldn’t be cutting. So I’m sure you learned a lot. By doing that here with that and going across, because you had to go across the intersection on the street to be able to cut it. So you’re cutting through sidewalks, through land, through property. Most of it, I think right of way maybe, but still to cutting through permissions, you have to get a lot of challenges, right?

Garrett McCurrach 0:14:50

Oh, yeah, definitely. The city has been really great to work with, but I think the people, especially who work on that road and live on the road have been really patient with us too, which we really appreciate and hopefully have done right by them. But they were kind of there with us in the challenges that we faced and we’ll always appreciate that. And I think anyone who drives along that we were able to go under all roads, which is just a benefit we get from not doing this in the 60s, take advantage of the utility technology, but still by nature of it being our first one, there are definitely some challenges and really appreciate the people at Petrie corners for being patient with us through that. And I just testament to your city.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:40

So in the three years that you’ve been doing this, over three years, I guess, has the business evolved a little bit from what you started out as? How have you seen a change from day one to, let’s say, where you are now?

Garrett McCurrach 0:15:53

Great question. I wouldn’t say that it’s changed that much. We try to stay really mission focused.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:00

Right.

Garrett McCurrach 0:16:01

Our goal is to decrease the cost of delivery and expand the access that people have to getting things delivered and expanding the amount of things that can be delivered. And so that’s really been the focus. And we kind of make sure that we never fall in love with any technology or anything that we build. We really want to fall in love with the problem and solve that problem. That being said, the tech has changed a little bit. It has always been pipe based, but we’ve changed how it interacts with the pipe. And a lot of it has been the first time, the very first prototype we built was it worked and it went through, but there were a lot of smaller details that didn’t exist that exist today. So stuff like you were saying, like food safety, we want to make sure that we have higher food safety standards than even like, a doordash driver or any other way that food, we get to someone. So we make sure that the food is sealed. It is sealed within a container, and then that container is put into the robot, which then seals the container, and then the pipe that that is being sealed in is kept really clean and is sealed off from the outside world. So a lot of things like that, little details, customer experience, things have definitely evolved. I don’t know if anything has changed that dramatically. We have expanded. There were product lines that we didn’t know about when we started. We knew that they existed somewhere out there. But just by talking to customers, just understanding, okay, what are the biggest pain points? There’s some, like instant pickup and then some other products that we’re working on that take advantage of the same core system. I can solve some of those smaller pain points for customers.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:52

I can see the expansion of what. I can see college campuses, new college campuses, or even maybe the existing college campuses where you have hubs and pickup points. I can see apartment buildings taking. I could see townhome communities at 300 units. I can see active living communities that are where some of them, let’s say, in Florida right now, they have dumb waiters in the garage because they need to get the stuff upstairs, I guess. But I can see something like this in those communities doing really well if you’re working with the developer directly to build it right into rather than doing it later. So making deals with communities, with developers like that, I can even see the logistics aspect of it where this may morph and evolve into different things, like you’re doing with Wendy’s, though. But even Amazon deliveries, because they even have hub stations where there might be 20 bins with combo locks and stuff where they deliver to forget what they’re called. But it doesn’t have to be just food, right? It could be anything, really. It could be almost anything. There’s probably too many things it could be, but yeah, I can see that happening that way. Do you have those types of sessions with your team as you’re going through this, looking into the future to see what else there is out there, that not only the product that you’re developing currently today, but looking forward to say, okay, how can this evolve if we need to in a year or two? Because your mission is to reduce the cost of delivery, to work logistics in the right way so it’s not stuck in just a product like you said. Do you do that? Do you do that brainstorming?

Garrett McCurrach 0:19:48

Oh yeah. We have a long list of products that we think would be really useful, but we don’t know anything. Right. I think any company within our four walls, we could come up with anything and it may or may not be useful. And I think that is sometimes the frustration with startups is you make this thing, it’s like, okay, but who’s that for? I know that you love it, but I don’t think it’s actually going to be useful to anyone else. And so before we even ever start to make anything, we always make sure that we have at least two customers who are putting money down to buy it. And so a lot of our work with instant pickup started that way. Some other product lines, we always make sure that both it is something, it is a product that has a lot of pull from the industry. And then two, we make sure that we have partners who can help us develop it, people who really want it, and will help us find the pitfalls that otherwise we would have found down the road. But they just know their industry so much better than we could ever research our way into. And they know the problems and they know the landmines to watch out for. And so we always make sure that we have the list, but we’re validating the list with real customers, and I think it’s just a much better way. It saves you from accidentally making something that just ends up in the landfill of useless products.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:16

Yeah, totally. You don’t know what you don’t know. So having expertise of that industry, it makes sense. And also, if they’re able to even help you pre fund the development of what you’re doing, that’s even better, having a contract with them. So Wendy’s is one restaurant. Obviously you’d probably be looking at other places. I would think as see I think at one point there was something I read or something I heard where you talked about hiring experts and they said they couldn’t do it and then you decided, you know what, let’s get some young engineers to figure it out. I think that was you and one of your interviews. But do you find young people, younger people being able to brainstorm these things better to a degree because they don’t have a bias already set?

Garrett McCurrach 0:22:07

I think I know what you’re talking about. I think we try to younger me maybe, said young people as a proxy but I really don’t think it’s an age thing. You’re going to find people with biases who are 1617. You’re going to find the most curious people at 70. And I think it’s really the curiosity and it’s people who look at the problem instead of the solution and say that’s a problem worth solving. So we’re going to figure out a way to do it rather than looking at something. And you know, I think people who lack curiosity look at a problem, they fall into two buckets. They go, well that’s not really a problem worth know. Do we really need things delivered faster? Do we need it delivered cheaper? I think status quo is probably fine. A lot of people said that with Amazon they’re like things are getting delivered in a week, two weeks, really need it faster. That’s totally fine for me. I can go down to the store and buy the thing that I need and then it changed our world. That’s one bucket people fall into is like do we even need it? The second one is like okay, that’s really cool. But if it was possible someone would have already done it. And that’s kind of the second lack of curiosity trap that people fall into. And once you get stuck there it’s really hard to get out. We just really look for people who have a high degree of curiosity and you can usually find those people who, we usually look for people who have a big portfolio of just personal projects, just little things that they’ve done themselves. And the best electrical engineer we’ve ever hired was in his seventy? S and he was more curious and interested in things than any of us. So I don’t think it’s really an age thing. I think sometimes younger people have more time to be curious. Two year old, they definitely understand that. But it’s not really about age. It’s more we’re looking for that curiosity if anything, we tend to look a little older. That balance of curiosity plus the wisdom of being there is like a killer combo that you can’t find anywhere else.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:09

Fair enough. Thinking about the last three years, because we’ve all lived through Covid. The future. When I think of your system and stuff, and I think of the way we’ve changed after Covid, I say after still, people are still masking up in Europe a lot more now than they used to, actually. So it’s not like it’s gone. And there may be variations of it, but I see where people, I mean, even we. I do shopping, but I’ll use Instacart. Sometimes I’ll use doordash or grubhub or something. Some ordering in versus going out to get it, let’s say. And part of that, I think it’s just that we were trained to some degree. Now people are going out. I mean, we go to restaurants still and stuff. But do you see the future? To some degree, we may end up in another pandemic. We may end up in other things that a system like this, or logistics of this sort, where it’s bringing the cost down of delivery and touchless delivery to a degree. Right. Because that’s what this is. It’s touchless delivery. Right. I mean, granted, someone’s touching it on one end, but they’re not coming to you delivering it right to you. You’re getting a robot or an autonomous vehicle delivering it to you. Do you see your company taking advantage of that as well? Just even thinking about it? Even hospital systems could probably use a similar function where you’re delivering to hubs and stuff from a central pharmacy place or pharmacy supply place within a hub like that. Do you see yourself working into other industries, other markets that way as well?

Garrett McCurrach 0:25:48

Oh, yeah. We really see ourselves as kind of this fiber optic network. When you hop on the Internet, you don’t really know. I don’t know how my face is getting to your face by way of a whole bunch of crazy infrastructure, a bunch of different methods. I’m over wifi, and then it goes into fiber optic, then goes to a server, and then more fiber, and then up into your home. And it’s just crazy. There’s no way to tell. We’re just getting Internet. And I think we think about the same way. We just want to be part of the infrastructure that makes things faster, but it’s going to take a lot of different things, and I think that’s just an inevitable. Regardless of COVID I think people are going to look back at grocery stores. I think our grandkids are going to look at grocery stores and they’re going to be like, they used to make you work in the warehouse to get your own thing. And it’s like, yeah, I guess that kind of is what it is we’re going through and doing pick and pack ourselves, and they’re going to use their brain computer to order a carrot, and it’ll be delivered or whatever they have. But I think we should want to go to things in public, and I think that is super important. And coffee shops and restaurants, they’re amazing. It’s great to be around people and be around people in community, and restaurants are really this community asset, just like a park is. But I think you should want to go to be in community, you shouldn’t have to go because it’s the only way that you can access things. And what we want to do is make it to where you go if you want to, but you don’t have to go to these places to make your daily life work. And oftentimes, the way our cities are set up now, if you can’t get around, if you don’t have a car, if you have trouble moving, the city is not set up to get you the things that you need. And so that’s really, we need to get to a place where, regardless of where you are or who you are, you can get the things that you need. And then going out in public and being part of the community is something that you can do if you want and you have the ability to, but you don’t have to in order to just survive.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:56

Makes a lot of sense. Europe is different than here. I mean, you’re right. We’re a car society. So this is why evs and autonomous vehicles want to make it easier for us. This way we can multitask, multi screen, and do everything we want in the moment. So I can appreciate all that. Do you want to share anything else that maybe we’ve missed that I didn’t touch upon yet or that we haven’t touched upon?

Garrett McCurrach 0:28:23

I can’t think of anything. Yeah, you have a big listenership in one of our favorite cities, Peachtree Corners. And so I just want to say another thank you to anyone who lives there. We have really fallen in love with your city, and we’ll always look for ways to thank you for being location number one. There is a business that we are working with that we were actually going out to look at a test site for. I don’t think it’s not public yet, but to put an instant pickup system in Peachtree Corners just because we want to keep giving back to you all and make sure we do things there.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:06

Is it a food place?

Garrett McCurrach 0:29:09

Yeah, there’s probably about as much as we can say right now. There’s probably too much. But just because we love Peachtree Corners, I wanted to give you guys the little hint.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:21

Fair enough. I won’t push it any more than that. We’ve been speaking to Garrett, CEO of Piped Dream. Where can people find out more information about piped dream?

Garrett McCurrach 0:29:31

Yeah, like you said, we have a TikTok. It’s Garrett underscore Scott. It’s a great place if you want to just keep up with videos, and then our website is a great place to go for more information. So we have Priestreamlabs Co. And then we have a YouTube labs for other videos.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:50

Excellent. So we’ve learned a little bit more about how UrbanEbb cities are looking into hyperlocal delivery here with Garrett and how his company is moving forward to doing this in the city of Peachtree Corners. A smart city. It’s forward looking city that we are. Lots of opportunities for this type of company to come in and God knows I think we’ve seen forget how many countries we represent actually here now that have companies and startups in representation here in the city of Peachtree Corners from all over the world, from Switzerland to other cities, other countries. But thank you, Garrett. Appreciate you being with me. Hang in there for a second while I close this out. Thank you, everyone, for listening to us again. If you want to find out more about Pipedream, I’ll have links in the show notes, so check that out. There’ll be a video link as well, I think, of what the system looks like through this, and we might be able to put this within our interview on the video or video podcast version. So you might be seeing it during this time. But thank you again for being with us.

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Peachtree Corners Life

Chief City Marshal Edward Restrepo: Explore the Future of Community Policing

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Get ready for our insightful podcast featuring Chief Marshal Edward Restrepo of the newly formed Peachtree Corners City Marshal Office. With your host Rico Figliolini

Discover the innovative approach of the Peachtree Corners City Marshal Office, acting as a dynamic “force multiplier” in law enforcement.

What’s more, gain exclusive insights into the cutting-edge law enforcement technologies they’re implementing—tools that are setting new standards beyond traditional police methods. Find out how community involvement and business support play a vital role in creating safer communities.

Information on the City Marshals: https://peachtreecornersga.gov/389/City-Marshal

Podcast Transcript:

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi everyone, this is Rico Figliolini with our new podcast, UrbanEbb. I have a great guest today, so welcome our chief city marshal here in the city of Peachtree Corners, Restrepo. Hey, Eddie, how are you?

Edward Restrepo 0:00:22

Good morning, Rico. Thanks for having me today.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:24

I appreciate you joining us. We’re doing this in the middle between Christmas and New Year’s, so people get a little understanding when this is being recorded. And before we get into the show, though, I do want to thank our sponsors for being part of supporting us, our journalism, our podcast, and the magazines. And that’s EV Remodeling, owned by Eli who lives here in Peachtree Corners and has a great company doing a lot of remodeling here in the city of Peachtree Corners as well as the external area. So evremodelinginc.com is where you can visit them as well. Clearwave Fiber, that does a lot of Internet services for businesses. There’s over 1000 businesses, I believe, in Peachtree Corners that are serviced by them, if not more. They’re a southeast and national company handling Internet IT services for a variety of companies. So check them out. Clearwave Fiber is their company name. So now let’s get right down to it. You’ve been hired as chief city marshal for the city of Peachtree Corners. You joined roughly around November 13. So it’s been a little over six, seven weeks. How does it feel?

Edward Restrepo 0:01:33

I know you’ve been, just so people understand, you’ve been doing police work for quite a bit of time. A few decades there.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:41

Yeah.

Edward Restrepo 0:01:42

For 26 and a half years prior to coming here, I retired as a major over special operations with the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:50

I was looking at your resume. You have a variety of broad experience in theft, in homicide, in gangs, in drugs. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Eddie.

Edward Restrepo 0:02:04

Yeah, absolutely. So I am what you call one of those northern transplants. I was born in New Jersey, raised a little bit in the Yonkers. Then we came back over and kind of bounced around between the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington bridge, all on that whole side of town, whether it was west New York, Fairview, New Palisades, Park, Ridgefield, that area.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:26

Talk about.

Edward Restrepo 0:02:27

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And so I was kind of the last holdout. Majority of my family had moved down to Georgia years and I decided to go further north. So I ended up going up to Boston for a couple years and beautiful city. Great. However, during that time, it was going to be difficult to get into law enforcement without prior experience or knowing people up there, it was just the way it is in Boston. And so I remember my brother giving me a call and saying, hey, it looks like they’re doing a lot of hiring out here in Georgia. You may want to come down here, and you may have an opportunity to get on law enforcement down here. So I did. I came down, I applied with several, and Gwinnett at that time seemed to be the right fit, kind of what I was looking for. Got hired on with them, and six and a half years later, here I am.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:13

Wow. So the city interviewed quite a few people, and when they decided to do the city marshal system, there was a lot of debate about what that would entail, what responsibilities you would have and stuff, and that the officers that being hired would be post certified. So for people that don’t know, they would be there. Obviously, you’re from Gwinnett police, so you’ve had a background in police services, but even the other two marshals are post certified. That means that they’ve been certified to be police officers. In effect, you are police officers, just with a different agenda, if you will, or guideline.

Edward Restrepo 0:03:51

Yeah, absolutely. We have all the same rights. Every police officer, for you to be certified in the state of Georgia has to have at least a minimum ten week mandate. However, all of us went through 26 weeks initially with the Gwinnett County Police Department. They tend to do almost double, almost triple the amount of training than other agencies, I guess you could say. At least the metro agencies tend to run their own academies and tend to do more advanced courses and things of that nature. So they came with 26 weeks entering, and then, of course, all the training that you get along the way throughout the years, when you branch off into specialized units and things of that nature, obviously, you get into a more specific category of training.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:34

So, of the experience that you have. So, give me a rundown, like a bullet list of the type of experience you have.

Edward Restrepo 0:04:39

Yeah, absolutely. So, when I started through the academy, you graduate, you go through your field training, and that could take anywhere from two to three months, and you’re riding with a more experienced officer, and they’re kind of showing you the ropes and get what you’ve learned in the academy and then kind of the practical side of how things work on the road. So you get through that. I think I tend to be. Well, at least I was told that I caught on very quickly, because within about a year or so, I became an FTO just because of how active I was being proactive out there, stopping cars, going out on suspicious people, making arrests, doing all those things. And at that time, there wasn’t a lot of bilingual officers. I think it was me and probably two or three other, and we were abused a whole lot, obviously, because there’s a big latino population here in Gwinnett. Even back, you know, we would get called upon to do interviews and talk, talk to witnesses and suspects, and I got to really get to know a lot of the guys in major felony and robbery and gangs, and I guess they took a liking to me. And so when those positions became available, I had built those relationships, kind of showed my fortitude for going after criminals. And so I was fortunate that pretty early on, I was selected to go to the gang unit, and then from there, robbery homicide, and then kind of everything kind of went through there. There’s kind of like a progression. You say as you go through your career, you get promoted. Sometimes you get to stay. Sometimes they want you to go back to the road and get that supervisor experience on the road. And then when positions open up back in those specialized units, because you have that experience, they call you back. And so you can see kind of through my bio that I would go be there for a short period of time in uniform and then go back and be selected to a specialized unit. And that was kind of my career path. Let’s say I was that go to guy when there was flare ups with serious crime issues. I was the guy that they would come to to try to resolve those things. And so I prided myself in and grabbed it and surrounded myself with a good group of people and went after the criminal is kind of why the whole reason we became police officers, right?

Rico Figliolini 0:06:48

Yeah. It takes a certain type of person to do that consistently and, well, certainly my respect goes out to you and your team. Latina. What, specific italian by heritage. Yeah.

Edward Restrepo 0:07:02

So both my parents are from Columbia, South America.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:05

Okay, so you’re first generation american.

Edward Restrepo 0:07:09

Yeah, I was born stateside. Yes, that’s correct.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:12

You’re joined by two other marshals, two other officers, same typical background.

Edward Restrepo 0:07:18

So everybody’s having a little bit different. I mean, we could start off with our deputy chief, Johnny Bing. Johnny Bing did 17 years with Gwinnett county. He did his post instructor. He was in detectives. So he has a lot of that investigative experience, and he also has that post instructor training, which is very important, especially for us, since all the training and everything we go through, we have to have someone in the bullpen that’s able to do all that, because there’s requirements when we take our training and how that has to be. And that’s all monitored and oversaw by post. And so to have him on the team is really good. A lot of his experience was in the realm of special victims, so elderly, child abuse, all those kind of not so great things. I helped out, but I kind of stayed away from that side of the house when it came to it. He did a great job at it, so he brings that level of experience. Henry Mesa did about seven, eight years. He started, like me, when he was 21, I believe. And he has a lot of background when it comes to community oriented policing, the community engagement. He also spent a fair amount of time, both at the precinct and in detectives doing a multitude of property crimes and persons crimes. So a lot of us have a lot of investigative experience, which with us just being three of us, it’s very important that we have that skill set.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:53

Yeah, for sure. Especially with the technology now that you guys are going to be working with or that you’ve actually been working with.

Edward Restrepo 0:09:01

Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the reasons that was here. Having the opportunity and getting the offer here in the city was just that when I was here as the major for two and a half years, that was one of the big things that I worked with. Brian and everyone else here at the staff was really promoting the flock and all the other technologies we’ve had and integrating them and really creating that ecosystem to where we have these tools that not only prevent, but in the event that a crime does have to be able to efficiently develop leads and get to catching the criminal and stopping the repetitious crime.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:40

I’ve heard from Brian that we’ve discussed it a few times on and off the podcast, that you all have been drawn into things sometimes where Gwinnett police might have had an incident happen, saying, we want you guys to be on the lookout for a particular car, might have a bullet hole in its windshield. Can you guys keep an eye out? And you guys have been tracking the real time tracking in some cases?

Edward Restrepo 0:10:03

Yeah, absolutely.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:04

Can you tell me a little bit about how that helps?

Edward Restrepo 0:10:07

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we have over 50 odd license plate readers in the city, and those were strategically placed in areas where we thought criminals would come in and out of the city. And so when there’s an incident, we’re able to go back to those look in those areas. If we have some nearby surveillance or witnesses that would be able to say, hey, this is what the car would look like, or this is what we believe, match it up, and then going back and looking at there and starting there with getting a vehicle.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:41

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:10:41

And then you can hot list those vehicles. And that means anytime that vehicle is moving, we would get alerts. And then that’s helpful for us to be pretty strategic and purposeful when we want to stop that vehicle, who’s in it, and kind of just continue the investigation there.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:56

Correct.

Edward Restrepo 0:10:56

So a lot of really good things there. So there’s that portion of it, and then there’s just other different softwares and databases that we’re able to access that help us develop leads. It’s very hard to stay off the grid nowadays. Everybody one way or another, unless you just pay straight cash every day, you could go down, drive down the road and get on your own ring camera, your neighbor’s ring camera, whatever. Right. I mean, it’s very hard today to be off the grid, I guess you could say, in the metro Atlanta area.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:32

I think if you’re out in Calhoun, Georgia, or somewhere, it might be a little easier. But even.

Edward Restrepo 0:11:37

Yeah, no, they’re starting to put up license plate readers. I mean, when you really look at mean, we’re all struggling when it comes to manpower, especially the bigger agencies. And so it’s one of those equalizers.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:47

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:11:47

The technology cameras don’t get burnt out. They don’t call in sick. They’re always up and running. They don’t complain more that you can put those things out. Money eyes out there at all hours of the night. And then when something does happen, really do have something you could tap into and really move forward with generating a very.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:07

So how challenging is it? I know, for example, the form has added cameras. Form has had some issues a little bit with Lululemon. It’s been a national thing just because of the brand name robbery at the jewelry store there a few months ago, I think it was. So there’s more cameras being added, there’s more technology being added. So how do you filter that out? Because at some point there’s just a lot to work through.

Edward Restrepo 0:12:39

I’m sure you’re familiar, but one of the big things, there are certain priorities that I think we want to move forward and pretty aggressively with starting up the Marshall’s office and we have the Connect Peace Street Corners program.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:51

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:12:52

And so we’re really urging both the business community majority for now and then residential at a minimum, to register their cameras with us.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:02

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:13:03

The registering is, hey, I’m just going to let you know that I have a camera here. If something happens, here’s my information, you come knock on my door and I’ll provide it. And then where we say integration is they’re providing those exterior forward facing cameras on them to us for us to see and use those in our crime preventative. And as far as utilizing us to develop leads.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:26

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:13:26

And so those are very big. That’s one thing that us coming on that we’re going to work really closely with the businesses, apartment complexes, hotels, extended stays, especially those areas where we have those flare ups where we just have more calls for service and repetitive things happen. So we want to kind of stay ahead of that. And so that’s where I think the Connect Peachtree Corners program is going to be.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:52

And I’ve noticed through conversations with Brian Johnson and some other people with the city and even some other local business people, like you mentioned some of the hotels, long stay hotels, where crime tends to happen, there may be some apartment complexes where there’s more crime than other places, they are beginning to add cameras to those locations. So more and more, with the cameras being added, not just licensed plate readers, but facial recognition to some degree. Right. Although the data is not kept.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:26

But there is a journey towards safety and towards solving crime. So when you’re dealing, when you were originally a police officer, now you’re a city marshal, there’s very different way that you have to operate. Do you still solve crimes, or are you part of the team that solves the crime with Gwinnett police?

Edward Restrepo 0:14:53

I think we’re a Complimentary.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:55

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:14:56

Necessarily, you have to know Gwinnett is a very big agency.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:00

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:00

And so maybe a priority for us and them may differ.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:05

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:06

Because they’re worrying about the whole county.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:07

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:07

As far as the city, let’s just say three entering autos in a subdivision overnight may not be a big priority for the Gwinnett County Police Department if they’ve been dealing with a robbery and a shooting and whatnot. So for us, that is a big priority.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:22

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:23

So today I just literally got a text message from business owner of one of the apartment complexes where there was someone trying to break into the mailboxes. And that was something that we helped out, and we identified a suspect. And so, literally, before we got on podcast here, I got that, sent it to my marshals, and the first thing that he’s going to go do is head over there, get the video talk, go through all those things, start pulling the surveillance, start looking at the flock cameras to see if we can’t develop a suspect.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:49

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:49

Because if we don’t stop them, they’re going to continue to do it. Right.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:53

In fact, it was one that just happened before a few weeks ago, I guess.

Edward Restrepo 0:15:57

Yes, that’s correct. Yes. It’s just that time of year. You have people’s taxes, things coming in, gifts, packages. This is tis the season, I guess you could say, for those bad actors. So, yeah, the quicker we’re able to identify that person and put them under arrest and we kind of stop their crime spree.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:18

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:16:19

And so that may not necessarily be a big priority for the Gwinnett County Police Department because they have other things, but for us, we’re able to be more calculated, more purposeful, and is a priority for the city.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:31

Do you, with the city, with companies like flock that does provide the cameras or like fuses that does the crime center in the cloud, do you all also participate or do you foresee yourselves participating in creating solutions to some of the crimes that happen?

Edward Restrepo 0:16:50

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m in the process of finishing up my dissertation on policing technologies, and so I don’t want to take anything more on bigger, but my plan, or my tentative plan is to try to put something together. Now you have a national real time crime center association, but I wanted to kind of do it on a more metro Atlanta because we all look, one of the biggest kind of tragic events that really highlighted not sharing information would have been obviously September 11, right? There was red flags that were up and things that weren’t being shared. And so we’d be foolish not to look at that in this realm where we have all this technology. And one, we could have some criminals committing some violent crimes to cab and then an investigator there knowing that they’re creeping into Gwinnett or Peachtree corners while they’re trying to develop their case. Why not have an experienced set of people stop the car here, find out what they’re doing, see if there’s anything that works into their way into the car, develop evidence and take them out before something else happens.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:59

Right?

Edward Restrepo 0:17:59

So the old school way was, I’m going to protect the integrity of my case. I’m not going to tell anybody. And now you violent people running around and you want to kind of keep your fingers crossed, hoping hopefully I’ll be able to build my case and take them out before something happens or utilize this technology to the benefit of where you’re bringing in other law enforcement professionals to help you stop that as soon as you can. Because we could build our case. If we stop a car and we find some stolen property, they go from there. But then there’s all the other things that you can do to place them at the scenes of other crimes. There’s different ways that you could approach cases, and especially those violent ones.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:35

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:18:36

You want to be able to try, you want to build a case, but you also want to take them out as soon as you can, because the next thing could be very tragic.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:43

Not being in police work, I didn’t even think about that. I think I’m fairly knowledgeable in things. I don’t know everything, obviously. That’s why I love doing these podcasts. I get to learn a lot more. I see the other perspective of things. But like anyone else, I mean, I didn’t realize that people assume you arrest someone, they get out on bail. Usually you work in a case on it, but that doesn’t stop them. Right, because it’s a job to them, essentially, they have to make a living. They’re going to commit other crimes because they’re doing a risk reward type set up. What’s my risk? What’s my reward? They’re smart. If they’re not, if they have other issues, then that’s different. So they continue on. How is that? Because I know working between agencies like Atlanta police, maybe Fulton county police, or Sandy Springs, which borders us in a little part of what we do. Roswell, how is that? In John’s creek? That’s another.

Edward Restrepo 0:19:41

In an ideal scenario, we would all be kind of on the same. And I think, you know, fuses is doing a really good job at getting a lot of the different cities and counties on the same board. I will tell you, there was a grant that was provided by Uwasi, which they’re part of, kind of the Atlanta regional. And so where they were giving either the first year or first two years of fuses to all the metro counties.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:11

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:20:11

Because in the event of a large natural disaster, a man made incident or whatever, it may be the case for them to all operate together on the same radio channel, have the same training, a lot of the same equipment, and so they saw that that was vital. There was a lot of blind spots. If everybody has different, separate systems, then we’re not seeing the criminals don’t respect those lines. And so we shouldn’t either. We should be one step ahead of them. It’s vitally important for us to be all on that same sheet of music, and everybody’s going to have different likes of certain equipment, certain technologies. But if the big basis that we’re working off of is when a criminal comes out of Atlanta or South Atlanta and comes up to Peachtree corners, if, let’s say, Dunwoody or Dorville knows that they’re entering auto suspect? Well, they could hotlist that vehicle for us to see, to be able to say, hey, there’s a 03:00 in the morning, and a vehicle that’s known to be tied to entering autos is coming into the city. Well, they’re probably not. There’s not a lot of things open at 03:00 in the morning in the city. So that would probably be a good traffic stop, a good conversation to find out who’s in their car, what they’re doing. They may find some tools, possession tools to commit burglary or entering autos, and we can kind of go from there. You can start with loitering and Crowley and get into the car. They may have warrants. There might be stolen cars. So it’s just a big snowball effect. But we would never know that if we’re not sharing that information.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:43

Right. So is it in an urban environment? This is what Urbanebb is about. Talking about small cities, really, not the largest cities, but small cities like ours, 40,000 to 100,000 people. Police work is one thing, martial work, because you’re only allowed to do certain things because of the nature of what the martial system is now. That may change over the next decade. Who knows, as the city grows, as things happen. But do you find that the parameters that you have to work in, is that a good thing?

Edward Restrepo 0:22:22

No. I think so. I think it allows us, I guess you could say, unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it, when it. County contractually has to respond to all the 911 calls, right. And that could be just a thing where call after call after call comes in. So all they’re being is reactive.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:40

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:22:41

Where we, as the marshals, we get to pick and choose what a priority or what we want to dig our teeth into, right? So if it’s an entering auto issue, if it’s a quality of life issue, if we’ve had a spree of violent crimes here, all three of us could literally go, all right, for the next week or so, this is what we’re concentrating on our efforts on, right. And we can develop those leads. Once we develop a suspect, we can give Gwinnett a call and say, hey, look, this is going good. We’re probably going to need some more assets, some more people. But this is what we’ve gotten up to this point, and then work the rest of it on through and taking out the bad actors.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:17

So, with police work, it’s interesting in what I do sometimes. I get to go to different trade shows. I do marketing for different companies. I’ve been to the international trade show. I’ve been to the toy and amusement industry show. It’s kind of interesting to be able to go to some of those. I have not yet been to the consumer electronics show, but I’m sure that there is a trade show for security, police, city work. There’s an industry out there. Fuses is part of that. So what other technologies are you seeing that an urban center like ours could be using?

Edward Restrepo 0:23:51

Yeah, absolutely. So one of the two things that we’re really moving forward with is obviously the use of drones. That’s going to be very big here in the city, both on the law enforcement side, but also on the civilian side.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:02

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:24:02

With the city being so well known for its being a well renowned, smart city with all the different technologies that they have here, we’re going to carry that on on the drone level, both on the civilian business industry side, but also on the law enforcement side. And part of that, as well as us moving forward with having, I guess, not a real time crime center, because I think a lot of people think, like, it’s going to be monitored all the time. But we will have, and we’ll be in the process of. We’re bidding now, but to build out a center where all the different camera feeds will go into a room eventually. We would like to. Where we would get to no line of sight with the drones.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:44

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:24:44

Like Brookhaven, our neighboring jurisdiction down here, they’re flying drones off the rooftops of buildings and responding to calls.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:52

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:24:52

Giving you that really good situational awareness. And so they’re right down the road. I actually talked to Brian yesterday, and we’re going out to a big drone conference. It’s kind of big international in April. All of us are going to go out there to see, but then we’ve carved out a day where we’re going to meet with Chula Vista Police department, and they’re kind of the big innovators in the drone space and law enforcement. So hopefully, we’ll be able to spend half a day or a day out there and see from where they went conceptually to where they’re known, know they get visitors from all around the world that want to model the program that they got going on over there. So I’m a firm believer there’s no sense to reinvent the wheel. If there’s somebody that’s done it out there, time tested, then it’s probably for you not to commit a lot of errors. You’re better off going to see who’s done it, who’s done it well and kind of borrow things from them.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:45

Right. That makes sense. Sure. With AI being part of what’s out there now, we’re actually through the magazine, through the publication, and in the podcast, we’re going to be talking more about AI in business and how AI works with how different companies in the city of pastry corners, for example, are using AI, whether it’s just to create a bot to do a simple thing, or they’re using it to do sales, or maybe they’re creating their own original use of that. Do you see city police work using AI at some point?

Edward Restrepo 0:26:20

The AI portion, for sure. I think a lot of the things and the cameras we move forward with, we want them to either have AI built into it or if there be AI being able somewhere where that feed is being channeled to incorporate AI. And I’ll give you an example. Let’s say we’re having some overnight burglaries of gas stations because that happens, or of some of the super Mercalos that are in the city and things of that nature. And I say that because it’s happened.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:51

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:26:52

But we could set up an AI on those cameras between, let’s say, midnight to 530 in the morning. Right. And if a vehicle, a person or anybody goes into that geofence that’s on the AI camera, we would get an immediate alert.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:07

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:27:07

And that’s the biggest thing. A lot of the problems that you have with in progress crimes is the alarm goes off, it goes to the call center. The call center holds onto it. Then it goes over to trying to figure out what police department, who they need to call, and that several minutes pass, they’re already in, out on their way, unless the officer just happens to be driving by and sees it and is right on top of it. So that is huge in mind when we’re able to do these geofences and also, like, let’s say town center, right. If we have an AI component, I think you may have learned that we had some issues with people loitering and hanging out on the top deck and doing some things that they shouldn’t be doing. But you could set up a geofence once. You can do it with cars or people, and then time. So if there’s going to be times where people are just going to go to have dinner at one of the restaurants, they’re getting together and they’re going. But you set it up for ten minutes, ten people or more, they start going to that space and you go, probably brewing something bad is about to happen. And then be able to get that live feed. That’s definitely one thing. And then obviously there’s another technology where you can talk through the cameras. Hey, this is such and such with the marshal’s office. I don’t know what you’re up to, but we’re heading that way. And if you have bad intentions, it’s probably best you leave now and then. You’d be surprised how many people get into their cars. They’re watching us. It’s time to go. Right. So all those different things.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:31

Right?

Edward Restrepo 0:28:31

So AI is a tremendous tool. It’s just how much time does one have? Problems one wants to tackle? Those are the things. That’s the great thing of all these different crime fighting technologies.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:46

Do you find, Eddie, that when you go, I don’t know if you’re like me a little, when I go to different cities, based on my interest, things will pique my interest. So, I mean, when you go to other cities and visit other places, do you notice what other police force are driving, how they’re handling situations? I’m sure you’re seeing how other security, police security forces handle situations.

Edward Restrepo 0:29:11

Is that helpful?

Rico Figliolini 0:29:12

I mean, do you look at that stuff?

Edward Restrepo 0:29:14

Oh, no, most definitely. I think with part of my dissertation and me just being a life learner and then just wanting to learn more about technologies and things of that nature, I have gone around to numerous cities, I mean, even in the local area. I’ve been to Duluth. Duluth has a very impressive RTCC center there that they monitor. Been to Atlanta, Cobb, Orlando. I’ve been everywhere. Just because I want to kind of get a good feel on what the latest and greatest stuff is out there and what’s working right again. I go back to time tested know. Unfortunately, some people in law know. The shiniest object comes up and they go, oh, this is the greatest thing we’re going to go with. They commit to something and then it doesn’t turn out to be as great as it was. Right to where you could look at a neighboring large agency that goes, you know what? They’ve been doing it, right. They have a lot of cameras. They’ve been able to solve a lot of serious crime, improve quality of life for their residents and visitors. Maybe this is the direction we want to go, or at least give it some really strong consideration, I guess you.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:14

Could say, are there things that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?

Edward Restrepo 0:30:19

It’s know to know the opportunity to come here and really showcase the know. I say this to Brian. I say this to know, we want to serve as the ambassadors for technology, because we’re small, we’re able to be agile and nimble.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:39

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:30:39

We don’t have to go through all these huge processes that a big county government has to go through to procure certain things.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:46

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:30:48

We have, I would gather to say, probably the most amount of less lethal options that you could have here in the city. Between the bola wraps, between the burna pepper ball, OC, kinetic ball things, you name it, we want to explore. We have, actually, our training set for the Taser tens, which just are literally coming out.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:13

What are those?

Edward Restrepo 0:31:15

Taser ten. So, for tasers, it’s basically the electronic weapons that you would shoot into someone that has probes that would lock up their neurological system, I guess you could say. So, for the longest time, it’s always been kind of two probes, but with that, if you’re running after somebody, they’re moving around. The probes don’t always hit Taser has done is they’ve kind of through their progression. Now they have a Taser ten. And so the Taser ten is just what the name says. There’s ten probes. And so if I’m running after someone, I could shoot the first probe. You have to at least have two good contact probes. So for some reason, I’m scaling a fence. They’re running, they zig, I’m zagging at the time. Whatever PP, I’m able to shoot enough times until I get a good connection, and then they go down, and then I’m able to affect the arrest. So just those type of things. But, no, there’s just so much stuff that’s out here, and we’ve already hosted other agencies coming over here that have been wanting to try these things out. So that’s always a big thing, right, for them to come to us and be like, hey, can you host this? And, yeah, we’d love to have you come. This is us. Grab the data, kind of put it out there for people, show them the good or the bad, and if it doesn’t work out, then we scrap it and we move on and we look for other stuff. But if it’s good, we keep it in our arsenal and deploy it and make it safe on us, the people that we’re interacting with and all those things.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:40

Yeah, that’s cool. And I would imagine there are companies constantly coming out here, probably pitching, showing the technology, even.

Edward Restrepo 0:32:47

Yeah, no, actually, I have a really good relationship with Chris from Fusys, and so he comes across, he partners with a lot of great agencies. And so that’s kind of the byproduct of them being in the city and me having good relationships with them. When they say, hey, we just met with this company, you may want to give them a try.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:05

Right?

Edward Restrepo 0:33:05

And that’s happened on multiple occasions throughout my time as the major and now as the chief marshal here in the city.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:14

Do you see in a city like ours, or even, I mean, it’s happening all over the place, the increase of retail robbery. I think there was one stat that said 30% of robberies, retail robbery. I don’t know if there’s any big solution.

Edward Restrepo 0:33:31

So you touched on something that sometimes can be taboo, which was facial recognition.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:37

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:33:37

And so I will say we’re starting to see the pendulum swing the other way. And I say that in, when you have a state like New York, where you’re from and where, you know, a small portion of my life earlier on is these retail stores just can’t absorb these losses. And so there is a big chain supermarket store up there that has literally put facial recognition in their stores. So when they have an individual that they’ve criminally trespassed or they’ve identified as a person, that person comes back into any of their supermarkets where they’ve been trespassed, an alert goes off, staff comes over there, they call the police. There has to be consequences if there’s not consequences. This is why we’re seeing the problem that we’re seeing, right? And so as long as you have those things in place, and I say, like, who would have thought today that we would be okay with going through a checkpoint and taking our shoes off our belts, our watches, and all that other stuff? But that’s what needed to happen, prevent something, right? So we’re able to, or at least we decide, hey, you know what? I’m willing to do that because there’s a greater cause or safety.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:47

Right?

Edward Restrepo 0:34:48

And so kind of the same thing here with facial recognition. And I try to tell people, facial recognition, it’s one of those things that, how do I explain this? No police officer or anybody that would get an alert on facial recognition is going to act on that information alone. It’s just a small portion of a puzzle. Like, let’s say I ran facial recognition and I got hit back and it said, it’s 98%. This is the person. I would never go get a warrant based on a computer telling me that they think that I’m still going to do all my due diligence and doing all the things that my investigation would be my first priority is, okay, if they’re saying that person, where was that person? Was that person, could they have been in the state? Could they have been in the city? Is there car tied to them? Were they working that day? Am I going to go check to see if they were at work at that day? All those things, I’m either going to dispel that or I’m going to prove that they were and you move on. But I think people think that this thing generates potential individual and that we’re just going to go, all right, put them on the list. Let’s get a warrant, let’s get them locked up. That does not happen. And I think that’s where I think a lot of people with facial recognition have been. But if you look at airports, if you look at Border patrol, they’ve been using facial recognition.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:03

Oh, yeah.

Edward Restrepo 0:36:04

You go to another country, you know damn well you’re going through there and they’re going to face recognition. That’s how those people stay.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:13

Those very violent countries for sure, in Europe and Interpol definitely use that because of terrorist activity. And we’re not even talking about profiling anymore. Profiling is a thing of the past to something. But you’re correct. I’ve seen and heard the same thing. It’s a tool, one of many things being used. But I’m glad the city is working towards are. We promote ourselves as a smart city with lots of technology, so this makes sense for us to be doing that. We’ve been talking with Eddie Restrepa, chief marshal for the city of peaceful corners. So I appreciate you being with us. If anyone out there listening has questions, Eddie can be reached through the city’s website. Certainly they can reach. Is there a place particular email or something you want to give?

Edward Restrepo 0:37:04

So do the Marshall’s office. I don’t have it in front of me. But if they just go to the city of Peachtree Corners and they’ll go to the marshall’s office, that’ll take them to two of our vehicles. If they see them out and about, there’s a QR code they can scan and that’ll take directly to our website. When we’re out and about, we’ll have the connect peace Tree Corners banners readily available. All those things. Again, we really want to heavily promote that. It’s one of those things where help those that are helping you.

Rico Figliolini 0:37:33

Right.

Edward Restrepo 0:37:33

We as the marshals and the police, the more eyes we could have out there. And it’s just simple, right. If you have a camera that you’re willing to share with us and hopefully that could be the difference between us solving and preventing crime. Why wouldn’t you want to be involved? I think anybody with a good heart and wants good things for their community would want to be able to provide those things to the crime fighter so we can keep you as safe as possible.

Rico Figliolini 0:37:56

I mean, it’s interesting. The ring camera, I have that too. And if you’re part of that community, you get dinged every once in a while about besides lost pets. It’s a bit of like, did you see these guys? They’ve been like in my driveway checking the locks on my doors or the door handles. So things are happening out.

Edward Restrepo 0:38:15

Know as we get the website and we get a little bit more active on social media, which you’ll see that I’m working with Lewis, our communications director, to kind of really put together what we’ve been doing behind the scenes and moving that forward. We’ll be able to be putting more of that information out through, you know, when we have those instances where, like you said, a series of entering autos, we could put that to the community. Hey, can you help us identify these people? Or, hey, we’ve had a spree in this area. Lock up your valuables. Be a little bit more vigilant in those areas. Contact any suspicious activity. All those good things.

Rico Figliolini 0:38:48

Cool. Well, thank you, Eddie. I appreciate you being on. Hang in there with me for a minute as we sign off. Appreciate everyone listening to this new podcast, UrbanEbb with our guest here, Eddie Restrepo, chief marshal at City of Peachtree Corners. Any questions, put in the comments below. Whether you’re watching on YouTube or on Facebook, we’d love to hear from you. Thank you all.

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