Dalton Police Begin New Code Enforcement Initiative

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Dalton Police Department is beginning a new approach to the enforcement of municipal codes to improve the appearance and safety of property throughout the city of Dalton.  The new effort includes the full-time assignment of an officer to code enforcement duties and the establishment of a website where citizens can submit complaints about code violations.  This effort is important not just for the maintenance of property values and community pride; DPD leaders believe the effort can also have a positive impact on crime prevention. 

While code enforcement has been a part of the Dalton Police Department’s strategic plans every year (since January 2011, the DPD has filed more than 330 incident reports on code violations) the formation of a new code enforcement officer position and the development of a new “Quality of Life” program represents a new focus on an issue that is about more than just having things “look nice”.  Chief Jason Parker said, “Our goal is the safety and improvement of the community.  There are several enforcement and abatement remedies within the city’s ordinances, but we would prefer property owners to proactively work with us to correct problems.”

Research suggests that areas where codes governing the appearance of residential and business property are enforced experience less crime than areas where property is neglected.  The so-called “Broken Windows Theory” states that areas where buildings are allowed to fall into disrepair experience more crime because criminals feel there is less order and residents are less vigilant.  The theory was first put forth by researchers George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in a 1982 article in “The Atlantic Monthly.” In 2005, researchers from Harvard and Suffolk Universities found that when issues such as broken street lamps, litter, building codes were focused on in crime “hot spots” in Lowell Massachusetts, calls for service in those areas fell by 20 percent.  Chief Jason Parker stated, “Simple things like picking up trash and junk send a strong message to criminals that people care and are keeping an eye out in their neighborhood.”

The city of Dalton’s municipal code contains standards for the maintenance of residential and business properties. Among the different types of violations the police department will be working to correct are issues such as graffiti, illegal signage, maintenance of existing structures, overgrown lots or yards, public nuisances, and unregistered or inoperable vehicles left on property within the city.  The code enforcement unit will also work with owners or lien holders to ensure that abandoned or foreclosed properties stay in compliance with the municipal code. The Police Department will be using the guidelines of the International Property and Maintenance Code (IPMC), which was adopted as a city ordinance in 2009.  The IPMC is maintained and amended from time-to-time by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The Dalton Police Department has created a position within the Patrol Division for a Code Enforcement Officer.  Officer Chris Cochran has been assigned to this post.  He will work with other patrol officers to identify problem areas and also systematically inspect all property within the city limits.  The DPD will also work to make the code enforcement function more effective through proactive enforcement and also researching how other jurisdictions have combated code problems.  Chief Jason Parker stated, “We are fortunate to have the opportunity and the resources to make an overall improvement in our community.  Some areas will improve quickly, but other will require a more intensive, collaborative approach with other departments and organizations.”  The code enforcement function will work with Dalton’s city government to develop innovative codes and strategies to combat difficult problems.  Officer Cochran will also be working to increase interaction with the community through media coverage and community meetings. 

While Officer Cochran is the only officer assigned specifically to code enforcement duties, all Dalton officers will be able to assist with code enforcement functions.  One advantage to having a sworn law enforcement officer working in the position is that Cochran will have the full investigative skills necessary to follow up on cases that require particular expertise, and may continue for weeks.

A code violation complaint form has been set up at www.safedalton.com which citizens can use to alert the police department about potential code violations which need inspection, and Officer Cochran can be reached at code@cityofdalton-ga.gov.


Black Art In America Founder Visits Chattanooga Saturday

Collectors, art lovers and Chattanooga visual art enthusiasts are invited to attend an exhibition of fine African American Art presented by Najee Dorsey, founder of Black Art In America.  The exhibit includes Mr. Dorsey's work, along with other works by African-American artists.  Works on paper by John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett and other 20th Century masters will be available ... (click for more)

2 New Officers Join Dalton Police Department

The Dalton Police Department’s two newest hands are now officially officers within the ranks thanks to their unanimous confirmation Tuesday by the Public Safety Commission. Officers Evan Driskill and Paul Ledford both graduated from the police academy in Cherokee County, Ga., earlier this month. Officer Ledford is a new officer but not a new employee of the city of Dalton. Since ... (click for more)

Blakemore, Corbett, Rachels Charged In Red Bank Heroin Death

Three Chattanooga residents have been charged with distribution of heroin that led to the death of an individual in Red Bank in February. Authorities have cited a recent rise in heroin abuse in the Chattanooga area, causing several overdose deaths, including three in one recent weekend.   A federal grand jury on Tuesday returned a superseding indictment charging ... (click for more)

Teen Shot Multiple Times On 4th Avenue; 2nd Youth Shot Twice On Pinewood Avenue; Woman Shot Twice On 25th Street

A teen was shot multiple times on 4th Avenue on Monday night. The victim was 19-year-old JaMarcus Davis. A second teen, 18-year-old Jaylain Ballard, was shot twice early Tuesday morning on Pinewood Avenue. Marion Heard, 45, was shot twice early Tuesday morning on 25th Street. In the first incident, Chattanooga Police responded at 7:20 p.m. to the area of the 2600 block ... (click for more)

General Bell: Chattanooga Needs The Coolidge Medal Of Honor Heritage Center - And Response (7)

I'm pleased and indeed compelled to let you know a bit more about the exciting and most honorable "Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center" planned for Coolidge Park.     Here's what the Heritage Center will be:  It will be a fitting capstone for Chattanooga's Coolidge Park on Northshore in downtown Chattanooga.  While this exceptional Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Pat Summitt’s Dash

In 1996 a woman named Linda Ellis wrote one of life’s most beautiful poems. Called “The Dash,” its first two verses read like this: “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end. “He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what ... (click for more)