Clayton County officials toss dirt to ceremonially begin construction on the northeast county police precinct in Ellenwood Tuesday. Construction is expected to officially begin early next year. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
ELLENWOOD — Clayton County commission Chairman Jeff Turner can still recall the outpouring of support first responders got from Ellenwood residents after the Mother’s Day tornado hit in 2008.
The twister tore open homes and uprooted lives. However, Turner — who was the county’s police chief at the time — said the residents made sure someone took care of the police, fire fighters and paramedics who were there to take care of them in the aftermath of the storm.
“We were stationed out here for about two weeks after the storm, and they came out and brought us coffee and water,” said Turner. “They took good care of us, and that’s the show of support that we have in this area.”
The support Ellenwood residents have shown public safety officers over the years wasn’t forgotten by officials Tuesday as they broke ground on a new police precinct at the corner of Anvil Block Road and Lunsford Drive. It will be the fourth county police precinct, not counting the headquarters in Jonesboro, run by the department.
But, it will be the first precinct in northeast Clayton County and officials said its fitting that a community that has supported police as much as Ellenwood will soon have its own precinct to embrace.
“Just the whole visibility of a police precinct makes people feel safe,” said Commissioner Sonna Singleton, whose district includes the Ellenwood area. “And just knowing that officers are going to be dispatched out of this area and being able to help with the community-oriented policing, I feel like the residents are going to actually get to know the police officers better.”
“They’ll be concentrated in this area,” she added. “This will become their home.”
Construction on the 5,000-square foot facility is expected to begin in early 2014, said Theresa Sword, senior project manager from Silverman Construction. She said it is expected to take about nine months to build the precinct.
“We’re hoping to be completed by the end of 2014,” she said.
A blueprint of the precinct on display at the groundbreaking showed the facility will have a roll call room, an intox room, a break room, a criminal investigations division room, men’s and women’s shower areas, a lobby, a watch office, bathrooms, storage rooms, a work area and office space for three sergeants, three lieutenants and a captain.
Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter said the increased police presence should help the department be more “efficient and effective” in the way it responds to crime in the northeast corner of the county.
He also said it should help economic development efforts in the area, which he said is one of the communities in the county that is still growing. Therefore, he said the department wants to “fit into the fabric of that community” by working with businesses, churches and community groups in the area when the precinct opens.
“That precinct is an extension of the police department, and our hope is that it will strengthen our partnerships in that particular community,” said Porter. “Certainly, it will have a positive impact in terms of response times, accountability and visibility.”