Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Clayton County police SMASH Unit Officer Angel Hidalgo escorts Terez McClarty to the mobile command vehicle to await transport to the Clayton County Jail.
By Kathy Jefcoats
ELLENWOOD — Clayton County police Officer Eddie Soto followed two other marked patrol cars through a subdivision Wednesday evening, past houses filled with families sitting down to dinner or watching television.
Ahead of him were Clayton County sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Manning and police officers Nathan Langley and Angel Hidalgo. As they approached the targeted house, Soto noticed movement in the yard.
"He's running," said Soto, jumping out of his county-issued Ford Explorer. "He's running."
All four officers gave chase, maneuvering to cut off the suspect's path to a nearby privacy fence. Within seconds, guns were drawn on the suspect and he was taken into custody. After handcuffing him, Manning and Langley escorted suspect Jeremy Allan Barnes to a Clayton County police patrol car.
In law enforcement speak, Barnes "bush-bonded."
The entire episode lasted just a few minutes. Most residents weren't even aware it happened. The cars exited the quiet neighborhood to take Barnes, 30, to the mobile command unit set up in the parking lot of a vacant shopping center near I-675.
Wednesday was day three of Operation Safe Break, held during Clayton County Schools' week-long spring holiday. The joint venture was carried out by officers and deputies from Clayton County Police Department, Clayton County Sheriff's Office and Morrow Probation Office.
Chief Greg Porter said law enforcement agencies strive to ensure a safe environment for people who live, work and travel through the county.
"We want to increase the probability of apprehending and arresting anyone involved in illegal activity," he said. "Our goal is to reduce crime and motor vehicle accidents in our county."
Clayton County police Capt. Kevin Roberts said the officers have a specific objective in mind.
"We're targeting high-crime areas, enforcing curfews with an emphasis on improving the quality of life," he said.
Officers worked high-crash areas such as Tara Boulevard and Old Dixie and Upper Riverdale roads, conducting three safety checks in two days. Roberts said officers issued 124 speeding tickets, 24 citations for equipment violations, made six misdemeanor and two felony physical arrests and nine arrests through citations.
Roberts said he and other law enforcement officials are pleased with the results of the two-day crackdown on traffic infractions.
"That was all done solely as the result of action by the Clayton County Police Department with added support of the Clayton County Sheriff's Office and Morrow Probation Office," he said. "We expect the numbers to increase."
Officers gathered Wednesday to serve warrants, knock on doors and check on probationers in Ellenwood and Rex. On Whitney Way, they picked up Terez Lammon McClarty Jr., 25, for violation of probation. McClarty was serving State Court probation for driving under the influence, according to Clayton County court records.
On Crooked Creek Drive in Rex, they arrested Jeffrie Lamont Smith, 54. Court records show Smith violated probation he was serving for failure to make an accident report, driving without a license and failure to yield the right of way while making a left turn. Police have been looking for Smith since January.
And Barnes, the "bush-bonder"?
"He violated probation he was serving for failure to maintain his yard," said Hidalgo.