Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
(From left) Clayton County police Officer Glen King, Sgt. Eric Arroyo and Officer Timothy Cook conduct a road safety check on Southampton Road Thursday afternoon. The check is a useful tool to help officers find wanted fugitives and drivers under the influence, said Sgt. Otis Willis III.
COLLEGE PARK — When the residents living in the northwest corner of Clayton County speak, apparently a lot of law enforcement agencies listen.
Neighborhoods near Norman Boulevard and Godby Road, adjacent to College Park and Fulton County, have been blanketed with police and deputies all month in response to complaints from residents about crime.
The Clayton County Police Department set up a road safety check at Southampton Road and Jones Circle Thursday afternoon — just one approach to beating the bad guys at their own game. Chief Greg Porter said his officers have an important goal.
“We need to uplift the quality of life in this county,” he said. “Your community is your home. Everyone needs to get involved in watching out for each other. If more people took it more seriously, there would be big changes. I appreciate the support of residents already involved.”
Lt. Chris Windley said Operation Summer Safe Streets began July 7.
“This is an effort to aggressively address criminal activity throughout Clayton County,” he said. “We are confronting issues such as apprehending people with outstanding warrants, prostitution, burglaries, armed robberies, loitering and traffic infractions.”
Clayton joined forces with the Fulton County and College Park police departments for an even stronger presence.
“We are communicating with the citizens, Fulton County Police Department and College Park Police Department in order to reach a common goal of lowering criminal activity in the area,” said Windley.
Sgt. Otis Willis III was in the area Thursday as officers set up a road safety check near Hampton Place Townhomes. Willis said residents need to take crime seriously and make more of an effort to help police.
“People have got to stop turning a blind eye to crime,” he said. “You’ve got to get involved. Once we pick up operations from here and go somewhere else, the residents here have got to pick up the phone when they see suspicious activity.”
Windley said efforts have paid off.
“Based on our statistical data, Operation Summer Safe Streets has produced over 100 citations and 10 arrests,” he said.
Willis said one of those arrested was a juvenile wanted in Fulton County for armed robbery.
“That’s another thing that is helping us out here,” he said. “We’re swapping information with Fulton County and College Park. We’re helping each other.”
The department’s mobile command unit has been parked at the intersection of Norman Boulevard and Godby Road for days. Occasionally, drivers pull in beside it, get out and thank officers for their presence.
“People appreciate our efforts,” said Willis. “You can see there isn’t as much activity with prostitutes walking around or drug dealers hanging out.”
Willis, who has wanted to be a police officer since kindergarten, believes in the goodness of people and the willingness of residents to want the best for themselves and their neighbors.
“I know we have more positive people out there than negative,” he said. “If more positive people would get involved, things could be different. Get involved and call police when you see something suspicious. We’ll come in and do our job. Problem solved.”