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New police precinct overlooks Love Shack

NORCROSS - Ever since the Love Shack moved in, Herb Strickland has worried about crime coming with it.

Now, though, he knows the police will be close enough to keep an eye on the infamous shop.

On Tuesday, officials opened a substation for the Gwinnett County Police Department at a shopping center right next to the adult entertainment business.

"That drew in an unsavory crowd," Strickland said of the Love Shack, which drew protests from around the Peachtree Corners community when it opened its doors in 2001.

Despite the protests and numerous lawsuits, the store remains open.

"That's a combatant to that," Strickland said, pointing from the police station to the business. "I think it's the greatest thing that's ever happened to this shopping center."

For $2,133.95 per month or $25,607.40 annually, the county is leasing a 1,782-square-feet shop at 6135 Peachtree Parkway in the Peachtree Corners community.

Sandwiched between a Mexican restaurant and a mattress shop, the substation has a blue "POLICE" sign above the glass front.

A wall separates the glass from the small office space, where officers can fill out reports or take breaks.

While the office will house the Westside precinct's community response team, Police Chief Charlie Walters said people should still call 911.

"It'll naturally increase the police presence for the area," he said.

That's what District 2 Commissioner Bert Nasuti had in mind when he pushed the idea through the Board of Commissioners.

In the past, he said, the county had gotten away from the idea of community police presence, instead building five major precincts to serve the 725,000 residents of the county.

"As we turn more urban, it's time to try something different," he said. "I believe police visibility is very important for people to feel safe in their community."

Walters said the Peachtree Corners area has a very low crime rate, and Strickland said he hasn't seen a surge in crime as part owner of the shopping center.

"The potential is here with all the apartments around like they are," he said. "We are very thankful."

Pat Bruschini, president of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association agreed, she stood with a couple dozen homeowners to welcome the new precinct to her corner of Gwinnett.

"This is an excellent location for this police precinct," she said, her eyes wandering to the Love Shack across the parking lot. "You can tell from the turnout we've had a lot of community interest in this."

John Cornetta, proprietor of the Love Shack, said his business has not increased crime in the area.

"We're glad the police are around, too, because we don't want any unsavory people in the area either," he said. "There's nothing we have to hide, and we're glad they're here."