Clayton County police Chief Gregory Porter shows off the new Sector 4 building to Hampton residents Carl and Frances Swain. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — Carl and Frances Swain travel Tara Boulevard quite a bit as they venture out from their quiet Hampton neighborhood.
The retired couple, married 53 years, told Clayton County police Chief Gregory Porter Monday morning they are comforted by the sight of patrol cars and thrilled to see a new precinct open in the Jonesboro Kroger parking lot.
“We’re out every Wednesday,” said Carl Swain. “That’s senior day for most businesses. We like seeing your boys out in their cars. We just love seeing a police presence.”
Porter gave the Swains a tour of the Sector 4 building after he and other dignitaries cut a blue ribbon officially opening it up for business.
Porter’s deputy chiefs Gina Hawkins and Mike Register, Clayton County Chief Operating Officer Arrelle Anderson, Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson, Clayton County fire Chief Landry Merkison, Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day, Jonesboro police Chief Franklin Allen, Sector 4 Capt. Stefan Schindler and other members of the police command staff participated in the ceremony.
A handful of residents, including the Swains, toured the newly-created offices. Porter said the building will be manned “24/7.”
“We’re a working police department,” he said. “In locating here, we’re thinking about addressing issues on Tara. We want to be proactive, not reactive. We want to create visibility and accessibility, and do things together with the community.”
The declaration was good news to Frances Swain, who said she is concerned that the economy is generating crime.
“This building is very nice,” she said. “We are happy to see it open. There are people out of work and they just don’t care. They are robbing and stealing and you have to be safe.”
“Safety is paramount,” he said. “Safety for our families, businesses and churches.”
Porter said the opening is the first milestone in the department’s commitment to serving Clayton County residents.
“Today, we make a new start for Clayton County residents but more importantly for the citizens of Sector 4,” he said. “We want to commit to Sector 4 residents the understanding that they are the customers. This location is symbolic, it increases our visibility and accessibility. We’re working for a better quality of life.”
Edmondson said the precinct is a tangible response to the concerns of Clayton County residents.
“The recurring answer to the question I put forth to residents — ‘what can your government do for you?’ — is overwhelmingly, ‘keep us safe,’” he said. “We’ve added new officers, we’re expanding Code Enforcement and giving a pay raise. This is all about being in the right place at the right time. Response time is very important.”