New police program reduces crime in community

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY - Gwinnett County police say a reduction in crime and an increase in trust are a direct result of the community policing initiative implemented to fight crime at area apartment complexes.

The department rolled out the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program -- a type of community policing that involves property managers and residents -- in April 2012.

"The program focuses on trying to reduce gangs, drugs, prostitution -- typical problems that occur in rental or apartment communities,” said officer Bert Garcia.

Police are working to improve two corridors that see more than their fair share of crime. Garcia said in early 2012, 98 percent of crime in central Gwinnett County was happening in and around apartment complexes along Satellite Boulevard and Sweetwater Road. Law enforcement needed to try something new.

Twenty-nine properties are now working with police on improved safety and security conditions. There is a full certification that comes after a three-phase program educating management and residents.

"They kind of start losing that misconception that they generally have about the police and learn about what we do. In turn, we get a lot of tips,” Garcia said.

Police said they see the results in their stats, a 16 percent decrease in crime in the area in just one year.

To become fully certified, properties go through a three-phase program with police: First, management learns about security improvement.  Then there is a property survey to improve safety conditions and finally, a meeting with residents is held.

Police hope to have three more properties fully certified by the end of the year.