January 2, 2011; Source: Macon.com | One of the ways to deter crime and make residents feel safe is police officers walking a beat. Having law enforcement officials live in the same cities they police also helps. But in many places, housing costs make it too costly for police officers to live in the cities they work.

To remedy that concern in Atlanta, where only 22 percent of its police officers live, the Atlanta Police Foundation is offering a package of incentives to encourage more people in law enforcement to make the city their home. The foundation, which previously helped police cover their down payments for homes, is now offering additional assistance with housing.

According to the Associated Press, the program, which is funded by community donations, will offer $1,000 bonuses to officers who relocate to the city. Other options, according to the Associated Press, include: “short-term city housing for recruits while they’re in training; rent-free and rent-discounted apartments in exchange for officers providing security while off duty; discounts on home purchases; and reduced interest rates on home loans.”

The Atlanta Police Foundation says it is working with landlords, community groups, developers, and banks to help implement the program. Among those specifically targeted will be recruits to the Atlanta police department. “The goal is to engage and cultivate a housing relationship from the very beginning of the application process,” said Stephanie Cruse, the foundation’s housing manager. The foundation will have plenty of chances to test out the idea. Over the next three years, Atlanta hopes to hire 900 new police officers.—Bruce Trachtenberg