By Bill Johnson
So many people attended the Gwinnett County Police Department Safety meeting in the Avocet community meeting room Thursday evening that it was difficult to find seating for everyone.
The meeting, which was arranged by Peachtree Corners City Council member Jeanne Aulbach, lasted about 90 minutes and those who attended thanked Aulbach and officers Shane Kelly and Christopher Justice for the crash course in how to protect their homes and autos.
"Jeanne did a great job setting this up," said Jim Morris, a resident of Bentley Place. "It was very informative. The goal was to learn a little bit and to raise awareness of the Gwinnett County Police and their interest in what used to be an unincorportate area."
Justice passed out a map detailing crimes that had been reported in the area and Kelly cautioned those who attended not to become a "volunteer victim." He also outlined common-sense rules to avoid auto break-ins by keeping doors locked and windows up, not leaving vehicles running and unattended, removing valuables and not leaving keys in vehicles. Kelly said that while the rules were simple, crimes occur every day because victims do not follow them.
He also outlined ways to prevent home burglaries, including installing dead bolts with a one-inch throw on exterior doors, securing sliding glass doors with a comercially available bar, lock or dowel and installing sensor lights or keeping porch lights on. He warned against hiding spare keys under a doormat and encouraged everyone to report any suspicious persons or vehicles in their neighborhoods.
During a question-and-answer session, some residents said their neighborhood had set up a Community Organized Police Service (C.O.P.S.) program that had proven helpful in preventing crime.
Kelly said Gwinnett County's C.O.P.S. program had been very successful and he encouraged others to establish one in their neighborhood.
Morris, said he plans to get the program started in Bentley Place.
"We're an older subdivision. Not many houses turn over in Bentley Place, so it won't be hard. Most of the neighbors have been there 20 years plus."
To establish the program, 65 percent of all homes in the neighborhood must participate in an initial meeting. Program leaders from the neighborhood are selected and taught what their responsibilities are. Instructions are provided in many areas, including personal, home and child safety, gang awareness for teens and parents, drug awareness, sexual assault prevention and domestic abuse/family violence.
For more information on establishing a C.O.P.S. program,
Editor's note: Bill Johnson is the public information officer for the City of Peachtree Corners.