By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Dave Emanuel

Snellville - a leader in citizen safety
By Dave Emanuel

Snellville - Viewed from 10,000 feet above, Snellville appears to be no different than the thousands of other towns that punctuate the surface of the United States of America. At ground level, it appears much the same. The view encompasses houses, businesses, streets, highways, parks, shopping centers, and depending on the time of day, slow moving traffic. Although the individual character and physical attributes change from town to town, the base elements are the same. 

Yet, Snellville is unique. The town's character isn't forged by buildings and roadways, but by the people who make them come alive. From what was once little more than an intersection of two major thoroughfares, (Highways 124 and 78) a vibrant city has emerged. A city that is widely recognized as a leader in civic accomplishments.

Those accomplishments are a result of the people who live and work in Snellville. Future columns will provide some insight into Snellville as a city, the aforementioned civic accomplishments, future plans and some of the organizations, both public and private, that make Snellville unique and proud. 

One organization that stands out as a special source of pride is the Snellville Police Department (SPD). Under Police Chief Roy Whitehead's leadership, SPD has made Snellville one of the safest cities in the state. That may seem to fly in the face of the city being ranked 23rd in a recent survey of Georgia's safest cities. However, the survey data is misleading because it includes areas that are outside the city limits. 

Snellville falls within two Zip codes, 30078 and 30039. However, both codes also include sections of unincorporated Gwinnett County that are outside the city limits. While that may seem to be splitting hairs, the two "Snellville" Zip codes encompass a large area that stretches from Stone Mountain to Loganville and from Lawrenceville to Lithonia. Within that area, criminals (at least the smarter ones) are well aware of the difference between being inside or outside of Snellville city limits. It's commonly known by people associated with, or subject to, law enforcement, that police response times are considerably longer in county areas than within the city limits. It's also a fact that many of the conditions that foster criminal activity are much more prevalent in some areas outside Snellville city limits than within its boundaries. 

Crime within Snellville is largely a result of opportunity, much of which is provided by the city's extensive retail operations. With more shopping options than are afforded by many malls, criminals view Snellville as a source of more shoplifting opportunities than other cities of similar size. The city's expansive residential neighborhoods, with numerous open garage doors and unlocked vehicles, also present the type of environment that burglars find attractive. As such, criminal activity within Snellville is largely confined to property crimes, many of which can be easily prevented.

With regard to violent crime, Snellville is extremely safe. According to police statistics, in the first six months of 2014, within Snellville's corporate limits, there have been no murders (only 5 in the entire history of the city), no rapes, 5 robberies and 4 aggravated assaults (an assault with a deadly weapon or attempt to kill). All of the aggravated assaults were committed by people known to the victims, no life threatening injuries resulted, and all the perpetrators were arrested.

During the same six-month period, one arson, 19 burglaries, 9 auto thefts and 342 other thefts were reported. (The theft classification includes shoplifting and entering autos.) A total of 371 property crimes for the period points to the biggest challenge faced by both police and citizens.

According to Chief Whitehead, the best crime prevention options are locking vehicles, securing valuables and keeping garage doors closed when a family member is not close by. In the event a theft occurs, having photographs of personal property and serial numbers on file is helpful in solving crimes and apprehending criminals.  

Snellville's Citizens Police Academy and neighborhood crime awareness programs, such as SNAP (Snellville Neighborhood Alert Program) are excellent means of learning about and employing crime prevention techniques. Information on both programs is available from the police department. 

Although neither police nor private citizens can prevent criminals, they can prevent crime. And as you might expect, in Snellville, the police department is very active on its own, and also works with neighborhood groups to maintain Snellville's leadership role in minimizing crime and keeping citizens safe.

Dave Emanuel is Vice President of Random Technologies, a manufacturing company in Loganville, and a Snellville City Councilman. To read more from Dave Emanuel visit http://www.cuttothe-chase.net