More cops to patrol southwest corridor

LAWRENCEVILLE - An extra layer of police enforcement will come to the southwest portion of Gwinnett County under a plan approved Tuesday.

Between five and 10 additional officers will begin patrolling the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District next month under a project known as a targeted enforcement zone.

In approving the agreement with the CID, Chairman Charles Bannister and Commissioner Lorraine Green, whose district includes some of the zone, said it would benefit the entire county.

"Any time you can add extra security forces in an area, it will make a difference," Green said.

The CID has a violent crime rate six times higher than that of the rest of Gwinnett. While the county police that already patrol the area through the West Side Precinct will remain intact, the zone will function like an overlay district for development, adding officers on top of those that are already there.

Chuck Warbington, the CID's executive director, said the move is just one of several intended to improve the perception and reality of crime in the area. The West Side Precinct is adding more officers, he said, and the county's quality-of-life unit will be headquartered in the CID.

The officers will be paid $45 an hour by the CID, but will not be considered off-duty. They will receive overtime pay and a contribution to their pension from the district, while the county will remain liable while they are working.

The extra patrols are set to start next month. Warbington said he is still determining when the officers will work and how many will patrol each day.

"I really want to have a targeted plan," he said. "The specific tasks have not been worked out yet."

Green said the creation of an intergovernmental agreement would allow other cities and CIDs to make use of additional county officers if they wanted. She said the Evermore CID on U.S. Highway 78 has expressed interest in participating in the agreement.

Brett Harrell, that district's director, said he had used off-duty officers since 2003. The CID spends about $75,000 a year to pay between six and eight officers $35 an hour, he said. Gwinnett Village has a $475,000 budget for the project.

If the project is successful, Warbington said, he hopes to include Norcross officers in the force as well. A quarter of the CID - which is the largest in the country - is located in the city. Warbington said people in the community have been eager for the extra enforcement to begin.

"I've had several calls on it already," he said Wednesday. "People want it to happen sooner, rather than later."