You asked, we answered: 34 things you probably don’t know about Atlanta

Why can private businesses hire cops to direct traffic on busy streets?

Are your customers having trouble exiting your business because of all the traffic whizzing by at rush hour? Just hire an off-duty cop! Yes, the officers we see all over town on major (and not-so-major) thoroughfares, stepping out into traffic so cars can exit parking garages (on West Peachtree) and hotels (on Ivan Allen Boulevard) and even Chick-fil-As (we see you there on Peachtree across from Piedmont hospital) are not on the city clock but rather paid by the businesses to facilitate quick exits for customers. After all, a cop in uniform is empowered with his or her authority at all times, not just when they’re working a shift.

Of course, the practice does bring up a few questions of, well, fairness. After all, why should a driver minding his own business have to stop in the middle of a street, no stop sign or traffic light in sight, just so a Mercedes-Benz S class Obsidian Black sedan can breezily pull out of a boutique hotel without so much as a tap of their adaptive brakes? And all this just because the hotel can afford to hire a cop in uniform? Come to think, why are we paying millions of dollars to synchronize traffic signals if traffic is getting artificially impeded?

We reached out to APD. Yes, they said, these are off-duty cops. But . . . “while this may seem to be simply for convenience sake, the primary goal is to ensure the safety of motorists. When drivers are waiting for extended periods of time to simply exit a parking lot, many can become frustrated to the point they are tempted to take risks that endanger themselves and other motorists. Assisting them in and out relieves that stress and ensures traffic is kept flowing without major interruptions. Officers are expected to do this with as minimal disruption as possible to traffic on the main road.”

This article appears in our November 2019 issue.