Following a meeting in July with business owners, city leaders and officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), GBI Gang Unit, Douglas Police Department, Douglas Marshal’s Office, Douglas Fire Department, Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, and Coffee County Board of Education Police are working together with the managers from various apartment complexes and rental properties to find solutions to crime and gang related activities in Douglas and Coffee County. On Thursday, August 5, 2021, city officials, public safety officials, and property managers gathered at the Youth Center for a meeting to discuss issues and possible remedies to assist in alleviating crime and other public safety concerns at properties throughout Douglas.
“My number one job as an elected official is public safety,” said Mayor Tony Paulk. “Our agencies and property managers have to work together to help combat crime issues before they escalate into dangerous incidents. These managers and officials that are here today, prove that they want to be a part of the solution.”
Much concern was raised over reporting incidents and follow through once an incident has been reported. Each property manager was given the name and contact information of their Police and Citizens Together (P.A.C.T.) officer. After some discussion, it was determined that sometimes police officers do not have enough information or probable cause in many cases to make arrests or secure arrest warrants. One recommended solution was for property managers to give a point of contact name, location, and detailed description of the complaint when calling 9-1-1. It was also suggested for police officers to include specific information in incident notes or reports, such as apartment numbers or apartment complex numbers so that managers can document information to begin the eviction process with problem tenants. Managers and officers will use this information to maximize resources and track incidences with individuals.
“We are here to work with you,” said Douglas Police Chief Shane Edmisten. “You are our eyes and ears at your properties because we do not have the resources to be everywhere in the city or county.”
Specialized crime suppression units with the Douglas Police Department are in the process of formation to help gather intel and combat gang-related activity and crimes. According to GBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Pro and GBI Gang Specialist Steven Tucker, “The Georgia Gang Statute will allow historical data to help prosecute an individual’s gang-related activities since often gangs intermingle and change their names in South Georgia.”
To allow police officers to enforce loitering or trespassing ordinances on properties, some property managers completed a Private Property Enforcement Agreement (PPEA). The city will also assess apartment properties and assist in the installation or updating of security lighting on properties and look at creating new city ordinances to bring all properties up to the same security level. All agencies agreed to work more closely with apartment complex staff members to document criminal and suspicious activities in an attempt to develop intelligence and prevent crime.
To report suspicious crime activities anonymously, call the See Something, Say Something Crime Tips line at (912) 260-3600. To report criminal activity in progress, dial 9-1-1.