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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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Elections and Politics

What to know about voter registration and municipal elections in Peachtree Corners

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On this episode of Peachtree Corners Life, Diane Fisher, a representative from the League of Women Voters Gwinnett chapter, delves into the world of voter registration and municipal elections in Georgia. With the implementation of automatic voter registration and the upcoming municipal elections in Peachtree Corners, Fisher sheds light on the importance of informed voting and active participation. From understanding address updates to exploring the power of thoughtful voting, listeners will gain valuable insights on enhancing voter engagement in their community. This podcast serves as a guide for residents to make their voices heard and shape the future of Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

Diane’s Email: Fisher@lwvga.org League of Women Voters
Website: https://www.lwv.org/local-leagues/lwv-gwinnett-county
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lwvgwinnettcounty/

“Being a prepared voter means being an informed voter. It’s not just about the presidential election, but about all the congressional seats, the House and Senate seats, and county positions. So, there will be an awful lot on that ballot. Knowing when and who is on the ballot is crucial for an informed vote.”

Diane Fisher

Time Stamp

0:00:00 – Introduction
0:01:54 – Voter registration process and information for new residents in Georgia
0:05:13 – Voter maintenance and the importance of updating voter registration
0:08:34 – Absentee voting process and how to request an absentee ballot
0:10:52 – Municipal elections in Peachtree Corners, Georgia
0:17:18 – Being a prepared voter for the 2024 elections
0:20:37 – The need to know who’s on the ballot
0:21:31 – Sharing personal experience about involvement in politics
0:23:02 – Misleading information and the importance of understanding the ballot
0:23:45 – Lesser-known positions on the ballot and the impact of voters’ knowledge
0:25:42 – Thoughtful voting and participation in local elections
0:28:04 – Encouraging voters to engage with candidates and attend events
0:29:39 – The process for third-party and write-in candidates in Georgia for the 2024 elections
0:31:25 – Seeking additional information that Georgia voters should know
0:33:28 – Advising voters to verify their voting location due to possible changes
0:34:17 – Closing

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. Appreciate everyone joining us. We have a special guest today from the League of Women Voters, Diane Fisher. Hey, Diane, thanks for joining me.

Diane Fisher 0:00:11

Nice to be here.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:13

Yeah, this is going to be a good educational podcast. We’re going to be discussing how to be a prepared voter and everything that comes with that for 2024 and municipal elections. But before we get to that, I just want to thank our sponsors, Clearwave Fiber, our corporate sponsor. They’re an internet providing business here in Peachtree Corners, serving over a thousand businesses. Peachtree Corners Life, they’re actually based in the Southeast, and they provide better than what you would expect from a cable provider. Fast Internet connection, great support, especially to businesses and residents. So check them out. Clearwave Fiber also check out EV Remodeling, Inc. Eli, who is the owner of the company. Him and his family live here in Peachtree Corners. It’s a great business. They do design to build renovation work. Lots of good activity out there, lots of good references for them. So check them out, Evremodelinginc.com, and you’ll be able to find out a little bit more about our two supporters that way. So let’s get right into the show. Diane, I appreciate you joining us. League of Women Voters, it’s been around for quite a while. You are the Gwinnett chapter of the organization, correct?

Diane Fisher 0:01:28

We are the Gwinnett chapter. The national organization has been around since 1920, founded out of the movement for women’s suffrage. And we in Gwinnett in this iteration, have been around since 2019. Comes and goes. And so it is relatively new coming back. And so that’s where we are now.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:54

Excellent. So I saw you, I met you at the Peachtree Corners Festival, which is part of what you all do, outreach to the community. And you were out there, I think, at the time when I passed, you were registering a new voter that came on and she was asking questions so similar to what we’re going to do here. We want to know a little bit about how if you’re a new voter and you haven’t voted yet, or if you just moved to the state of Georgia and you have to register here to vote. Because obviously, from where someone comes from, you have to register in the state that you’re going to be voting in at the residence that you’re going to be voting in. So tell us a little bit about what would be needed for someone to register new here in the state of Georgia and Gwinnett County.

Diane Fisher 0:02:40

Sure. So in Georgia, we have automatic voter registration through the DDS, through driver services. And so when anyone gets a new license or changes an address on a license or does anything with DDS, they actually are automatically registered to vote. So we actually have very high voter registration in Georgia because of that. What doesn’t happen, though, is sometimes people you know move down the street, sometimes they move across town, sometimes they move within a county, sometimes they move out of the county. And you do, as you mentioned, need to be registered to vote at your current address. And so it’s important for everyone to make sure that they take care of making sure that that happens. Because sometimes people don’t always update a license in a timely fashion, but they actually move. And the reason why it’s linked to where you live is because who you vote for is determined by where you live, what precincts, and so it is important that you are registered your current address so you can always check. One of the best resources for checking the status of your registration is the Secretary of State has their website which is MVP, SOS ga gov and if you put in your name and birth date and county you can find out where you’re registered to, if you’re registered, where you’re registered, what precincts you vote for, where you vote. All of that information is available on that site. And so we encourage every voter before every election to check the status of their registration, to make sure that everything is above board, that it’s where you need it to be and that nothing happened. Because there is a list maintenance that happens as a regular part of the process and sometimes people are put moved to inactive status if they miss a notice or something like that. So we just always want to make sure that everybody checks their status, which makes sense.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:55

I just did that for two of my kids, I showed them how to do it because they hadn’t voted since they hadn’t voted. So I think one of them, in a decade maybe voted once and I said there’s maintenance, they could purge you from the list and they were still on the list, right?

Diane Fisher 0:05:13

So if you don’t vote in two federal election cycles, then you are moved to inactive status and that starts a process of eventually dropping you off the roll. So you’re not obligated to vote in elections. But obviously we encourage everyone to vote, but it is important to respond to those kinds of requests that you get because they probably did get some kind of notice in the mail indicating that, questioning if they are still at address, that they live, that they were registered, right, no doubt.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:48

And I think younger people have a bit more of a problem following that up because it’s not on their to do list, obviously. I think the demographics show that older people more regularly, younger people less regularly, unless it’s a presidential race and even still sometimes it just depends. And COVID hasn’t helped either, people moving back home with their parents, whether they moved in from out of state, maybe they still wanted to vote for if they were living in New York, maybe they still wanted to do an absentee ballot back up there, and that’s possible, but they wouldn’t be able to vote down, right, right.

Diane Fisher 0:06:26

You can only be registered to vote in one location. And quite honestly, one thing that people don’t know is that if you register so say you move I’ll use your example from New York and you move to Georgia and you register to vote in Georgia. There is not a process like an automatic unregistering. You from New York, you actually have to request that. My daughter, when she moved out of state, it took us a long time to get her off of the voter rolls, know, because you actually have to request that to happen. Most people do not think that that’s something that they have to do. And that’s why sometimes the roles are not updated or updated. You might show up on a place where you have no intention of voting and never voted because you’ve moved and you just didn’t think that you need to do anything about it.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:17

Sure, I think you’re right. Most of my friends would not even think about, oh, I need to know if someone know. Technically, you could end up doing a mail in ballot to New York, let’s say, and vote here, and no one would know the difference, apparently. Obviously we don’t want that happening.

Diane Fisher 0:07:39

There have been cases before the state election board that come, people being caught doing that, and it is not situation. So yes, that is illegal.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:50

It’s a federal offense.

Diane Fisher 0:07:51

It is a federal offense. That is certainly not something that we encourage. And most people who register, they move someplace, they register, they have no intention of voting elsewhere. But young people particularly, or people who are transient, it does mean that you have to pay a little bit more attention and make a plan to vote. I think it’s also important to think about not just being registered, it’s then knowing when elections are, knowing what your plan will be. Will you vote absentee, will you vote early advanced voting, will you vote on election day? What’s that plan? To make sure that you’re actually being able to vote.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:34

So in the state of Georgia, if I’m going on vacation or even an absentee, you don’t need an excuse for an absentee ballot. You can ask for that.

Diane Fisher 0:08:44

Right.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:45

So you could go online to one of the sites or which site to go to to get an absentee ballot.

Diane Fisher 0:08:51

Yes. So that depends on the election. And I will say, and I only raise that because we’re coming up on municipal elections here in Gwinnett County, actually statewide, but also specifically here in Peachtree Corners and in Gwinnett, the county does not run the municipal elections. Every city runs their own municipal election. So the answer for coming up for the November 7 election, which will be the municipal election here in Peachtree Corners, is that you need to request the absentee ballot from the county clerk in Peachtree Corners. And if you go to the website, you can get that information. There’s a form there that you can request the absentee ballot for the Peachtree Corners election. Typically for every other election, you would go to the county. Well, actually either the Secretary of state’s website or the county Board of elections office, and you can get the form there. One of the changes that happened in election forms is that you can’t register just on an online portal anymore. You have to print out the application because it has to have a wet signature. It has to actually have an actual signature on it. So you have to print off the form, fill it out, sign it, and then you can send it back digitally. But you can’t just I think there was a time when there was a portal where you could just go on and put in your information and request it. So now you have to print out the form and then return it to the county election office.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:29

But you can scan that form, return.

Diane Fisher 0:10:31

It digitally, scan it, or take a photo of it, and then email it back to the elections office and do it.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:40

So they’re just forcing you to print it out to do that website, which.

Diane Fisher 0:10:45

Means that you now have to have access to a printer, right?

Rico Figliolini 0:10:49

How many people do know?

Diane Fisher 0:10:52

And so that is the process now and where you go. And again, because Gwinnett is unusual, Gwinnett’s one of the few counties in Georgia that the municipalities run their own elections. Most other counties in the area, Fulton, Jacab, the counties run the municipal elections as well. And so what that means for us here in Gwinnett and in Peachtree Corners is that when you go to vote on election day for the municipal elections, you will not go to your regular location where you normally would are used to voting. So at Simpson elementary or at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church or any of the different locations where you always go to your regular precinct location, everybody in Peachtree Corners for the municipal election will vote at City Hall, down around in the room, around the bottom, the community trust room, around the left side of the building. That’s where elections are held for the county, for the city, I’m sorry, for the city.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:02

And there’s one open seat, one open contested seat, I should say.

Diane Fisher 0:12:09

Every other election cycle we would have. So in this case, on the ballot is the mayor, post one, post three, and post five. So the only contested seat is the post five. And post five is an at large seat. And so that means that everybody, Peachtree Corners will vote for that seat. Post one and three are geographically defined, so the first three posts are based on geography. So post one, I think, is the southern section. And then three is the sort of the northern part of Peachtree Corners. So Alex Wright, Is and Phil Sod are in those seats, and those are uncontested seats. And then, of course, the mayor’s race is also citywide, and that is uncontested as well.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:07

So people understand this, come November, you’re going to have to go to two different places to do this.

Diane Fisher 0:13:15

No, the only election in 2020, right. The only election in 2023 is the municipal election.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:23

That’s right.

Diane Fisher 0:13:23

There have been times when you’ve had to go to two places because there were simultaneous elections, but that is not the case now. So November 7 and actually early voting and early voting does start for the municipal election on Monday, October 16. So Monday through Friday from October 16 through November 3 and then October 21 and October 20 Eighth, which are Saturdays from nine to five, is early voting. So you can go for three weeks early voting, including two Saturdays. And then, of course, on Election Day is seven to 07:00 a.m. To 07:00 P.m., election Day, November 7, and that will be just at the City Hall. If you go to your regular polling location, there won’t be anything going on there other than school or church or whatever might be happening.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:19

So people should also be aware, I think, when they send in the absentee ballot, how long do they have? How does it get date stamped if it arrives three days later? I mean, how is that process explain?

Diane Fisher 0:14:32

So, legally, your absentee ballot needs to arrive, in this case, City Hall by 07:00 P.m. On Election day. If it gets there the next day, it’s not going to count. It has to arrive. So if you’re going to be voting with an absentee ballot, you need to make sure that you’ve planned ahead to request it. And I would say request it like today. When you hear this, make sure you request it, and then as soon as it comes, fill it out. And you can actually I mean, if you are local and you’re just going to be out of town, you can actually just bring it down to City Hall. Worry about the postal service. Obviously, if you’re a student who lives out of the area, needs to mail it again, do all of that life ASAP, because the time is a very limited window.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:31

Okay. And just because I’m thinking along this line, if someone was going to drop it off, like if I was going to drop off my son’s ballot, I could drop that off at City Hall. That’s okay.

Diane Fisher 0:15:42

Yes, you can drop off a ballot for immediate family, relatives, so your wife, your kids, a parent. You can’t, though, start collecting from people in your neighborhood and bringing those in, but for close family.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:00

Okay. All right, that sounds good. So the League of Women Voters is known for providing good nonpartisan information to get people to do to vote, to fulfill their civic responsibilities and all. And we talked a little bit about what it means to be a prepared voter before we started. So tell us a little bit, Diane, what does it mean to be a prepared voter going to 2024 into the presidential race, election year, where there’s going to be a lot on the ballot, I’m sure in a variety of states, but even here in Georgia, sure, because.

Diane Fisher 0:17:59

It’s not just about the presidential election. There will be all the congressional seats, there will be all of the House, the Georgia House seats and the Georgia Senate seats. There will be county positions, all of the county constitutional positions will be on the ballot. So there will be an awful lot on that ballot. And so being prepared voter means being an informed voter. So obviously, the first is to know when you need to be voting. And there are lots of elections in 2024, starting in March. The presidential preferential primary will be in March. Then we’ve got the regular primaries in May, and then we’ve got November elections and then any runoffs that may need to happen as well. So there will be a lot of elections. So it’s not just go in and vote once and be done with it. So that’s one thing knowing when all those different elections are. The second is knowing who’s on the ballot. And through that MVP site that I mentioned earlier, the MVP. SOS Ga gov, you can pull up it’s not available right now, but it will be available for 2024. All of who is on your ballot, you can pull up sample ballots. And so that will be really helpful to know ahead of time because I hear people all the time saying, like, I got into the polling booth and I had no idea that there were all of those things on the ballot. I wasn’t prepared. And so you can be prepared by pulling up the sample ballot and actually marking, doing your research. And there are lots of different ways to get information. There are candidate forums. Certainly the candidates themselves are out there putting information out. Will. The league is known for doing candidate information forums as well, and we likely will be doing particularly for our county races. The state may be doing some larger scale ones, but here in Gwinnett, the Gwinnett League focuses very much on what’s happening here in so, you know, doing your research in terms of getting information about not only what’s on the ballot, but then being able to check out the candidates so that you know who aligns with your values and with the things that are important to you. And so that becomes part of the conversation it’s important to have.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:37

Yeah. Coming from New York, I was involved quite a bit in political politics when I was younger, 1820. You see the things that go on, the amount of so doing it for such a long period of time to hear people say, I’m not prepared, or I don’t know who’s on the ballot. It gets really frustrating when there is a lot of information out there between news outlets. Granted, there’s a variety of news outlets, so some agendas on some of these outlets, but for the most part, you’ll be able to get the information out there. Candidates are especially local candidates are doing more door to door campaigning. You will get it inundated with mail, right? I mean, last year or the year before was just ridiculous. The amount of mail that was going out, literally three or four postcards a day coming in.

Diane Fisher 0:21:31

And you have to be careful about that mail because it’s not just the candidates who are sending out mail now. It’s all kinds of organizations, and some of the information is not always accurate or it’s political spin. And so I think if you’re looking to find out candidates positions on things, that’s where it’s important to look at various sorts. So the league does run nationally, a website called Vote Four One One, where we reach out to candidates to get their input so that you can hear from them what they believe about certain things. So we ask questions. There are other sort of neutral, if you will, sites. Alopecia has sort of a candidate profile site. So there are ways that you can get sort of just factual information candidates, as opposed to sort of the political spin that can sometimes make noise. And so we do encourage, but at the very least, pull up that ballot to say, this is what’s going to be on there. So you don’t get in and say, I didn’t know county, the clerk of the court, I don’t even know what that is. Those are the things that sort of sneak up on people.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:02

I mean, they’re lesser known positions. They get less exposure. People either tend to skip over them or they tend to, depending on the politics, tend to either vote for the incumbent because there’s an eye next to it, because that seems safer, or if they want to stir the pot, they’re voting for the other candidate to come in. It’s a variety of reasons, right, that people vote.

Diane Fisher 0:23:24

Right.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:24

And then there’s referendums on the ballot, and because they’re written in such legalese, sometimes you may be reading it in that moment at the ballot box and not realize really what it’s saying, because some of it’s written in such a way, you would think, oh, that’s easy, that’s what that means. And then you find out later, no, that’s not what that meant.

Diane Fisher 0:23:45

Right. If I vote yes, it’s actually voting against. That’s right, because of the way that it’s written. Right. And so I think that those referendum and those also those are available, you’ll be able to pull those up on your sample ballot at the MVP site so that you can actually see it and read it and do your research. I mean, I know that I sit down when my kids were first voting, we would sit down and literally go through the ballot and research candidates together. And the referendum questions, even life, talk about what they mean and what the pros and cons, and if we didn’t have an answer, we disagreed or whatever, we talk about it. Sometimes we disagreed and they would vote one way and I would vote a different way. But point being that having that conversation and being informed because that is how we citizens are being able to make sure that what we want is actually happening. I mean, you hear so often people saying like, it doesn’t really matter who I vote for if I vote, because it just doesn’t matter, my voice doesn’t matter. Well, it matters if you do it thoughtfully. And if everybody were to participate, then we’re all in a better place. Here in Peachtree Corners, just going back, we have 27,000 registered voters, and in the last six municipal elections, the most we’ve ever had is a 10% turnout. So like 2700 voters. So when people complaining about whatever they might be complaining about, about the city, you need to actually vote to have your perspective put forward.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:42

It’s the frustrating part. Yeah. When I read things on nextdoor and people say, these people, they have an agenda, this is what they want to do, and it’s like it doesn’t take much. You’re right. Sometimes there’s more than 2700 votes. Right. There’s more than that, depending on the year now, really.

Diane Fisher 0:26:05

More than 10% of the voting. I think that when we first became a city that was a higher turnout, but since then, yeah, it’s a very small and we know there are elections that have been won by 15 votes, there are elections that have been won by one vote. And so especially in these smaller elections, makes it more important to get out there and have your voice heard.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:39

Yeah, especially because, I mean, in small elections like this, it depends on how many friends you have. You’re right. There was one election, I think was the last election that we had, where it was a 14 vote difference or something along those lines. If you want to make change. You have to be involved. You have to knock doors. You can’t just send postcards. You have to meet your neighbors, your voters, and figure it out.

Diane Fisher 0:27:10

I will say, I think candidates these days are very open to certainly the local candidates, the county positions, the state House representatives, and so mean you can go onto their websites, know, ask for a meeting. They will meet with you. And I think that that is important. And it’s important to meet with not just the people who you think you might agree with, but also the other side to hear what they stand for and what they plan on doing. And I think that we are in a time when it is easy to access your candidates, particularly at the more local levels, and go to events that they’re having or send an email and say, I’d love to talk to you. Will you have coffee with me?

Rico Figliolini 0:28:04

Right. Yeah. Some of them will put out their cell phone numbers, and you can literally call them and talk to them because how many people in their district, how many people actually can actually call their representatives? And I think people should be aware that their representative is they’re there to be able to expedite things. The constituent service, if they have a problem with government that rep, that represents you, is there to help make things easier or to at least guide you into what you need to do. They’re there for a reason. They work for you. I know that’s, like everyone says, they work for me. But they do work for you, and you’re the one that votes them in, and you should be able to they’re there to represent you. So to fill a purpose that way.

Diane Fisher 0:28:52

Yeah. You have resources and access that we don’t have, and they’re happy to facilitate things for us. Yes.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:00

So let me ask you. I’m a bit of a political junkie, but you don’t know about Georgia politics as much as I probably should after being here since 95. But now that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. For example, decides he’s going to run as an independent candidate because the Democratic Party, according to him, has not given him the right for a debate or to run properly, they’ve changed the rules a bit, I guess. What happens with a third party candidate in 2024 when you live in the state of Georgia? Can you do a write in on a candidate like that?

Diane Fisher 0:29:39

So, two different things. There is a process for being put on the ballot as a third party candidate. And my presumption, I mean, we’ll often find a Green Party candidate on the ballot or things. So there is a process for that. Write ins are a whole nother story in Georgia. So I know a lot of people know, I’m going to write it in my husband, I’m going to write my neighbor, or I’m going to write in whatever you actually have to register to be a write in candidate. So only, the only write in votes that will count are people who have gone through the process of actually registering to be a writing candidate. If you don’t write in one of those people, it’s not going to count. So they don’t do a tally of all of those. Rico you couldn’t get 100 votes as a write in because unless you obviously go, yeah, so that notion of sort, I’m just going to write somebody in, in Georgia, it’s not possible. The different part, you do not have to be just a Republican or a Democrat to show up on ballot. There are processes for being a registered candidate from whatever party it happens to be.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:11

What should a Georgia voter know that we haven’t covered that may be trivial or not trivial, but detail that most people know that we should mean? Is there anything gone over?

Diane Fisher 0:31:25

So I will say that one of the things that I always say about voters is voters are creatures of habit. So if the last election I showed up and voted in this location, and I voted in that location for the past three elections or ten elections or 20 elections, don’t always presume that things stay the same. We know that we just had so, for example, we know that we just had redistricting with the census and numbers have shifted. And so there is a shifting of precincts and so on. And most of the time you’re going to stay in the same place, but always, again, check to make sure that you know where you’re voting. And just because you always voted at Simpson or New Age building or wherever it might be, don’t presume that that’s where you voted last time, that’s where you’re going to vote this time. Because sometimes because of the ways that the numbers have shifted, they shift. So again, I think it’s really important to always check, even if you think I’m pretty involved, and I check my voter page periodically and certainly before every election, just to make sure that, first of all, my precincts, not just the precinct is the same, but that I know who I’m voting for. Because we know that there were changes in congressional seats and House and Senate races and even County Commission seats. We have a new County Commission situation now from a couple of years ago. And so just knowing where the lines are, because the lines do sometimes change. So I think that that’s something that particularly coming right off of the redistricting situation that we had. If you haven’t voted recently since the last election, you may find that things have changed a little bit.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:28

Makes sense. I know that state House and Senate seats have changed. People have disappeared, or they’ve been drawn out of a district that they were in.

Diane Fisher 0:33:40

They may be running, and the lines have just changed. The numbers have changed. The lines have changed. Yeah, it’s.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:46

Amazing. So it really should go to that website that they have mentioned, MVP.

Diane Fisher 0:33:50

SOS ga gov, if you just remember MVP, if you start typing in MVP and in Georgia it’ll show up. And that really is if you remember one thing from this conversation, I would say remember that. And then the other piece is remember that for the upcoming election in Peachtree Corners, you’re going to be voting at City Hall right.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:17

For 2023. All right, cool. I think we covered quite a bit. We’ve given places that people can go. Is there anything else that you want to share, Diane?

Diane Fisher 0:34:31

I don’t think just I think if we want our government and our society to work for us and we need to be actively engaged with the process and the League of Women Voters is always happy to give information. I get calls all the time, emails from friends, neighbors, people across the county asking questions. So you can always call the county election office. But if you I’m a local Peachtree Corners gal, people are welcome to reach out to me. It’s Fisher@lwvga.org and I’m happy to answer any questions that you have.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:13

Cool. If anyone wants to volunteer for the League of Women Voters, they can reach out to you.

Diane Fisher 0:35:18

Absolutely. We are always looking for new members. As I said, we are relatively new in this iteration and we started right in 2019 and just as we got our feet wet and going COVID happened. And so we are eager to engage people who want to do voter education, voter registration work, helping people. We are nonpartisan. We do not support candidates or parties. So we really are just wanting to make sure that people have the information that they need to be able to exercise their rights.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:54

Excellent. Doing great work. I mean, that’s the biggest battle, getting people educated because walking into that booth, not knowing three quarters of that ballot would be the worst thing to be doing. So I appreciate, Diane, your time with us. We had a little power outage before so this recording took a little later than it was and there was not even a storm cloud in the sky and yet we had a power outage. So go figure. But appreciate you helping with educating our listeners on this. Thank you everyone for being with us. All these links will be in the show notes as well. But do remember MVP, I think if you put MVP elections, it’ll probably pop right up as the first thing on that page. But thanks again, Diane, and appreciate your time.

Diane Fisher 0:36:41

Thanks for having me.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:42

Sure.

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