A typical shift for Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District security officer Tom Reilly entails driving around, looking for suspicious or illegal behavior and helping stranded motorists.

It’s not always so quiet, however. Just look at an incident that happened last year — when he encountered a stolen BMW — for example.

Reilly was scanning a check point behind the Satellite Place office building during last year’s holiday season. The CID annually step up patrols during the holiday season, and one night Reilly heard sirens in the distance. He figured it was some activity on Georgia Route 316 and then the sirens stopped.

And that’s when the activity came to Reilly.

“About 30 seconds later (after the sirens stopped), I hear these squealing brakes coming up one of the side streets here and this white BMW convertible comes flying into the back parking lot,” the security officer told the Daily Post during a ride-along Monday. “(The driver) was trying to cut through office buildings to get away from the police and he saw me with my lights on and we were like nose to nose and these three kids bail out of the car. They were still about 50 yards away in a parking lot. The car stopped automatically on its own ... about 20 feet from my patrol vehicle.”

Reilly is one of the Gwinnett Place CID-employed patrol officers who will be stepping up patrols this holiday season to ensure shoppers in the area aren’t victims of crime.

From Thanksgiving until Christmas, the CID’s security patrol officers will be more visible, driving through parking lots more often and making their presence more known to would-be criminals in an effort to deter crime from taking place in the area.

“We have patrols out seven days a week through the entire year,” Gwinnett Place CID Executive Director Joe Allen said. “This is just some added patrols because there will be more people here at the hotels, at the restaurant, doing some shopping as well.”

Reilly, who has been one of the CID’s security officers for about two years, has done a lot in his life leading up to his current job.

He has a degree in criminal psychology. He was a military police officer in the Army. He was an investigator for the Department of Defense. He’s worked as a security manager for retail companies, such as Target, and spent 30 years working in disaster recovery management as well.

And he’s an author who has written a non-fiction book about the Vietnam War as well as an espionage novel.

“I’m not the typical security officer,” Reilly said.

During the holiday season, Reilly said there is a bigger need for auto assistance — the patrol officers can help with some issues such as vehicles that need a jump start — in the CID.

“We do a lot of that stuff (throughout the year),” Reilly said. “It’s just routine for us. It increases a little bit more during the holiday season because there are more people out (and) the parking lots are more congested.”

Allen praised Reilly for his work around the district, including his friendliness with business owners, the fact that he stops to talk with them and listen to concerns they have — which he forwards on to the CID — and the fact that he also make notes of any issues, such as broken street lights, that he sees while he’s out on patrol.

Sunday marked Reilly’s 140th shift patrolling the CID.

“He is amazing (and) we’re fortunate to have him,” Allen said. “He’s very personable, has a deep background, especially in law enforcement, and he just has a great rapport with the businesses and also the people who are visiting the area.”

The experience Reilly has to draw on in his current job is a plus, too. In the case of the stolen BMW, Reilly stayed calm and called the police while the teens — who ultimately ended up being arrested — fled.

“(The teens) ran through the woods and I knew they couldn’t get too far because there’s a 20-foot drop-off on the other side of the trees that they ran into,” Reilly said. “I heard some screaming there and I called 911 and said ‘I think I’ve got a stolen vehicle here’ ... The closest officer was at one of the car dealerships because he thought they might have ducked in there so I had like 10 patrols there in about 30 seconds of me calling 911.

“That’s been the most interesting thing (encountered) on this route.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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