Crime statistics down in Gwinnett Village

NORCROSS - Three months after more patrols were added to the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, crime has gone down in the area.

At a town hall meeting centered on security, CID leaders reported that overall crime decreased more than 11 percent.

"I'm here to tell you a lot of positive things are happening in this area," CID director Chuck Warbington said. "People are safe here. The message is finally getting out."

About 150 people came to the meeting to discuss crime and perceptions in the CID, where they had the opportunity to submit questions for Gwinnett's police chief and leaders in the local Westside Precinct and Quality of Life Unit.

Hildegard Tiller, who lives at Rockbridge Road and Jimmy Carter Boulevard, said her husband had been making quality of life complaints about litter and other nuisances for more than two years.

She said the efforts have already made a difference.

"I think we should all be involved," Tiller said. "The police can't do everything."

Warbington urged residents to be the eyes and ears of their communities, calling the police if they see gang activity or unmowed lawns.

Annette Gelbrich, who also lives in the Village, said she sees crime statistics heading in the right direction.

Chief Charles Walters told the crowd that a recent focus on armed robberies in the county has brought a 35 percent reduction in the crimes in three weeks. He addressed concerns about immigration issues by saying that the county checks the immigration status of everyone arrested, but needs to create an atmosphere where people aren't afraid to report crimes.

Walters said in every community, there is a certain portion of the population that simply belongs in jail.

"We're trying our best to make this a safe community, and I hope you're seeing some results," he said. "It's like turning a big ship, there are a lot of things to turn around."

For Ernest and Cynthia DeTallo, the changes are already visible. Cynthia DeTallo said she has noticed fewer people loitering around South Norcross Tucker Road and commended the district on its work to hire additional police officers in a targeted enforcement zone and increase its presence in the area.

Ernest DeTallo said he's glad improvements have started to come more quickly than when the couple first moved to the district 15 years ago.

"I always knew the area had great possibilities," he said. "I absolutely love this community. That's why we're here."

SideBar: At a glance

Since June 2007:

' Commercial robberies decreased 37 percent

' Entering autos decreased 20 percent

' Motor vehicle thefts decreased 11 percent

Officers in the targeted enforcement zone have:

' Made two felony arrests

' Made 38 misdemeanor arrests

' Issued more than 100 traffic citations