News

New Program Aims to Clean Up Dekalb County

2/13/2012

JCS is delving into new territory once again. This time JCS has entered the world of code enforcement. DeKalb County Georgia Probation Manager, Matt Smith explains the motives of this program, "JCS and code enforcement are building a strong working relationship that will clean up the areas that have been in disrepair for some time. This will help make our community a more beautiful place to live and will hopefully increase the property value in this bad economy."

Code enforcement has been shown over time to promote safety as well as beautification throughout the United States. Many county codes ensure safety by managing out-of-control plant life and removing large, unkempt items that can harbor rats and other pets. They also protect creative children who may see structures like abandoned appliances, vehicles, and piles of scrap as a great place to play. Much of this refuse can include harmful chemicals, sharp edges, and sometimes the ability to be trap children and pets. Research supporting the "Broken Windows" theory of criminology also suggests that consistent code enforcement can assist in increasing social order and decreasing crime within a community.

This program, which was requested by DeKalb County's Chief Judge, Nelly Withers, covers both civil and criminal code enforcement for the entire county. Compliance Officers will answer complaints filed by neighbors as well as survey for unreported violations. The officers will visit sites of code violation, observe them, and record the progress as long as it takes to ensure that the site comes into compliance with what the court has ordered. This will be no small task. According to the 2010 US Census, DeKalb County contains 270 square miles and almost 200,000 single family homes to consider.

After many meetings, brain storming sessions, personnel arrangements, and countless hours of computer programming, the Code Enforcement Program is taking off and welcoming its first challenges. Smith was quick to credit the JCS IT department with making the vastness of the program technologically possible, "We look forward to the growth and seeing all of our hard work pay off. I have a new found respect for all that goes into Probation Tracker on the programming side," he stated. He continued on to thank those that had worked closely with him on the project so far including Chief Judge Nelly Withers and JCS employees Steve Pelts, Jack Belshe, Tim Myers, Mario Gonzales, Anika Inman, and Chanique Merritt.

The DeKalb County Court and JCS have a long relationship of laying the groundwork for progressive programs that are later adopted by other jurisdictions. Hopefully, news of the Code Enforcement Program's success will positively affect even more communities that are looking to increase property values, safety, and beauty for their residents.