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Code enforcement sweep nets arrests, citations

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Multiple law and code enforcement agencies converged on Roxbury Drive in Riverdale Thursday morning during a code enforcement sweep.

In the Apple Valley and River Forest subdivisions, 207 homes were cited for code and zoning violations, including illegal dumping and unkempt lawns, according to police. Some were cited as illegal boarding houses and personal-care homes, police said.

Through the use of roadblocks, Clayton County Police also made 10 arrests. Some arrests were for vehicle tag and license violations. One person was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana, one for giving a false name and date of birth to authorities, and one for an outstanding warrant in Douglas County, police said.

Around 10 a.m., a combined force consisting of Clayton County Police, Code Enforcement, Animal Control, Refuse Control, Special Operations, Transportation and Development, and Planning and Zoning officials fanned out into the neighborhoods on Roxbury Drive.

According to the operation's commander, Clayton County Police Maj. Doug Jewett, officers posted violations on "40 to 50" houses by 12 p.m.

"We usually refer to it as a blitz," Jewett said. "We send everybody out. We are addressing issues that would have taken longer if it was a single officer roaming through the neighborhood."

With Special Operations officers nearby for backup, Code Enforcement officers went door to door, documenting violations and informing violators of ways to stay in compliance. According to Jewett, offenders have five days to answer the violations.

In addition to answering code violations, the Clayton County Animal Control department visited pet owners whose neighbors had lodged complaints, the Refuse Control department collected curbside trash, and the Transportation and Development department located public rights-of-way which could be mowed immediately.

Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said complaints from local residents spurred the police department to take action. He said many residents of the Roxbury Drive area "are coming out and applauding our efforts."

"We're out there quite often," Turner said. "We're concentrating our effort to not only address the crime, but the code enforcement issues. The people who live in that neighborhood, they are tired of the problems they feel on a daily basis. We are definitely working hand-in-hand with the citizens in that community."

"It's good to see the county departments coming together as a team to help clean up Clayton County," the chief added.

According to Jewett, the last major code enforcement sweep was six months ago along Holiday Boulevard. Other previous sweeps took place a year ago on Maddox Road in Morrow, and two years ago on Willow Drive in Riverdale.

Jewett said the sweeps don't always lead to arrests, but the police presence goes a long way toward preventing future crimes.

"A lot of times, it is an education issue, when people don't know what is required of them as property owners," Jewett said. "It helps the quality of life, better than if we were to just let things go.

"As neighborhoods get seedy from an eyesore standpoint, it also brings in the criminal elements," he added. "We like to think it's pretty effective when [potential criminals] see this much presence in the area. If they were going to rob a house, they might go back."