By Daniel Silliman
Clayton County Police swept the Flint River Road and Pointe South Parkway corridor on Saturday night, arresting 45 people in six hours of targeting a high-crime area.
Police Chief Jeff Turner said the department set up a mobile command post in the parking lot behind St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church and put up a road check in the middle of the three-mile stretch.
About 60 officers worked from 6 p.m. to midnight, walking through the surrounding neighborhoods on foot and executing un-served criminal warrants.
"The purpose, here again, was to respond to the increase in burglaries in the area," Turner said.
The corridor, between Tara Boulevard and Ga. Highway 85, including Thomas Road and Webb Road, has consistently ranked among the areas in the county with the most burglaries, robberies and automobile break-ins, according to police department statistics. The area also has a high rate of gang and drug activity, police said.
A similarly high profile and multi-front operation in October lead to 39 arrests. Turner calls the sweeps Operation 3-Rs: "repelling crime, restoring order and resurrecting the quality of life."
On Saturday, police from the department's Special Operations unit, traffic unit, Special Weapons and Tactics team, Drug Interdiction unit and evening watch patrol hit the area, arresting men and women for traffic violations and outstanding warrants.
The police found 15 wanted people in their homes at their listed addresses Saturday night, nine who are wanted for offenses in Clayton County. Such warrants are normally served by the sheriff's office.
Turner said a simple check of the county's computer system shows there are 124 people wanted on 194 warrants in the Flint River Road corridor.
"We're talking about a three-mile stretch here," the police chief said. "These people have no business walking on the streets of Clayton County."
Turner said the outstanding backlog of warrants is a critique of Victor Hill's Sheriff's Office, which is constitutionally responsible for serving the county's warrants.
"He is capable of cutting the burglary rate in half, if he'd just serve the warrants," Turner said. The police department and the sheriff's office have recently ended a conflict which started with the sheriff's office seeking burglary statistics and talking about starting a burglary suppression unit, similar to the one the police run currently.
Between December 5, and March 1, county police arrested 464 people with outstanding warrants, Turner said. About 176 of those were Clayton County warrants. Those people, Turner said, wouldn't have been on the street to offend if the sheriff's department had already arrested them.
"One of our biggest problems has been the number of people we run up on who've got warrants out," the police chief said. "[Hill] is always talking about how he wants to help us, he can help us by removing these people who are wanted in Clayton County. That's his job... We're not trying to take his job, but we want to take these individuals who are wanted off of the streets."
Hill did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The sweep of the Flint River Road and Pointe South Parkway corridor was considered a success, according to police, and an effort that will continue.