That body voted 6-1 to start asking owners of apartment complexes that exceed the city’s average crime rate to be part of a crime-reduction program. Those owners would pay a $250 fee in exchange for suggestions by police on how to make their complexes less conducive to potential law-breakers — everything from improved lighting, trimming shrubs to putting up taller, sturdier fences.
Police also would be allowed onto those properties to search for violations of city health and safety codes.
“Our goal is not to be punitive with this and not to put anyone out of business. Our goal is just to make it safer for them,” said Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said. “We’re very much recommending this on behalf of the decent, law-abiding residents.”
His department plans to use formulas to calculate the average number of crimes per 1,000 people at each complex, then compare that number to the average crime rate at all the complexes in the city.
As originally proposed, the new program would have required such property owners to take part. But unfortunately, the council watered down the measure at the behest of Councilman Philip Goldstein, who still voted against it because he said it would give police the right to tell business owners how to do business.
“Where do we have the right to regulate day-to-day operations of a city apartment business?” Goldstein asked.
Making suggestions about safety-related issues isn’t what most Mariettans would define as “managing a business.”
Especially when many recipients of the soon-to-be-forthcoming suggestions from police haven’t exactly been “taking care of business” to start with. Even a cursory look at the crime stats in the Franklin Road corridor makes that clear.
So now it will be up to the individual property owners to decide whether to take part. One can’t but think there probably are apartment slumplex owners in the city, especially in the Franklin corridor, who will prefer to keep their $250 each month and care less about the fact their properties are little better than havens for law-breaking.
But once the program is in place, there’s nothing to stop the council from revisiting it and reinserting more muscle into it. Taking a full step in the right direction, instead of last week’s half step. For now, though, the council — well, most of it, anyway — deserves praise for being proactive to combat crime.