More than 30 homeowners filed into the Hanarry Swim and Racquet Clubhouse Tuesday night for a meeting with Gwinnett Police to discuss neighborhood safety.
Residents of Hanarry Estates and Shadow Ridge subdivisions listened to crime stats and safety tips from Major Dan Branch of the Gwinnett County Police Department. The meeting was held in response to recent burglaries, both home and automobile, that have taken place in the area.
Branch opened the meeting by sharing with homeowners that the effects of the economy have significantly reduced the police department’s resources. Due to budgetary limits Branch stressed the importance of community awareness.
“It takes people like you in this room, who want to get involved, to make these neighborhoods safer,” said Branch. “It is imperative that we get back to the community policing foundation.”
There are 15 incorporated cities within Gwinnett County; each of those cities is broken down into five districts. Each district has a corresponding team of officers (there are 800 in Gwinnett) who are led by a precinct commander. Branch is the commander for the South Precinct that comprises District 2, which includes Snellville, Lawrenceville and Grayson. District 2 has 80 C.O.P.S neighborhoods.
In recent months the top two complaints in District 2 have been cars speeding through neighborhoods, and automobile and home break-ins. Speeding complaints have continued to increase while Gwinnett County cities, including Lilburn, wait for a resolution in the Service Delivery Strategy dispute. Since January police have been unable to use radar or laser detection for speeding, making it especially challenging for officers to cut down on violations.
According to statistics provided by the Gwinnett County Police Department, there have been 1,751 criminal arrests since January; there were 3,603 criminal arrests in 2010. Since January there have been 15 burglaries in the surrounding area of Hanarry Estates and Shadow Ridge. Three of the 15 burglaries were unsuccessful attempts, 10 were forced entries and 2 were non-force, meaning homes were left unlocked and burglars did not have to force entry. In addition to these home break-ins there have been four automobile thefts.
One frustrated homeowner, Taylor Jensen expressed difficulties community residents are having in the wake of increasing home foreclosures.
"Homeowners in our neighborhoods want potential home buyers who are looking to buy into the community,” said Jensen, who is the C.O.P.S. coordinator for Hanarry Estates. “They don’t want transient neighbors.”
In response to these concerns Maj. Branch urged homeowners to invest in an alarm system, lock their doors, remove valuables from their vehicles and to keep their eyes open for both themselves and their neighbors. The South Precinct commander also expressed a greater need for police transparency with residents in order to create a useful exchange of information.
“Our chief has expressed that the community needs to know what we’re doing,” said Maj. Branch. “ If you have concerns about something happening in your neighborhood give us a call.”
The remainder of the meeting was dedicated to answering questions. Residents inquired about proper permits for solicitors, ways to increase police visibility and how to report suspicious activity occurring within the neighborhood.