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Security plan aims to spark Gwinnett Village revival

LAWRENCEVILLE - Within two years, Chuck Warbington said, people are going to look back at Gwinnett Village and wonder at how far it has come.

Warbington, the director of the community improvement district that includes parts of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Indian Trail-Lilburn Road, said the creation of a master security plan that the CID's Board of Directors approved last Thursday will be a first step to drastically decreasing crime in the area.

Research into what types of crimes are committed in the CID will cost the group between $10,000 and $15,000, Warbington said, and will allow leaders to see whether there are pockets of particular crimes or if they are evenly spread throughout the area.

In the end, the board expects to spend $60,000 to conduct research and find short- and long-term solutions to crime in the area. From vandalism to violent offenses, Warbington said, the CID must treat crime harshly.

"I think there's a lot of crime around the major corridors. ... There's the perception of crime associated with Indian Trail and Jimmy Carter," he said. "It's a domino effect. Graffiti is a lot different than murders, but it needs to be treated the same. The point is it all needs to be considered."

The master security plan will give the CID goals to reach, Warbington said, and ensure that tax dollars are being used effectively. All in all, the board expects to spend as much as $300,000 on increasing security in the area, perhaps with the addition of a code enforcement officer for the area as well. The recommendations are expected by early November, and Warbington said he hopes to begin implementing them by the end of the year.

The goal, he said, is to make people feel safe in an area that has a reputation for having a lot of crime.

"It's a foundation of American culture," he said. "If you don't feel safe, you lose business."

Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department, said there is more crime along Interstate 85, in part, because of the access to other counties.

"If you're a bad guy, you do bad things, it's easier to scoot out," he said. "You jump on I-85 and boom, you're in another jurisdiction."

Moloney would not say whether violent crimes were higher in the Gwinnett Village area without doing more research into the numbers, but said primarily residential areas tend to have fewer violent crimes because people have more pride in their homes.

Warbington said the precinct that covers Gwinnett Village has seen a spike in armed robberies lately, but he is confident the CID's efforts will be fruitful in turning the neighborhood around.

But the results won't come quickly. It took more than 15 years for the area to disintegrate, he said, and the turnaround may not be evident for more than a year.

"I don't know if there's a full moon, but it's almost been a war zone this week," he said. "We're going to solve it. It's disheartening a little bit, but not discouraging."