Representatives from a Sandy Springs neighborhood asked City Council on March 18 to consider expediting its request to install security cameras.

“During the past few years [our neighborhood has] experienced a spike in daytime burglaries,” Vicky Jefson, vice president of the River Shore Estates homeowners association, told the council.

After consulting with the Sandy Springs Police Department, residents of the neighborhood, located near I-285 and Riverside Drive, took it upon themselves to create a neighborhood watch and raised $21,000 for security cameras.

However, for a camera to be effective in recording license plate numbers of vehicles coming and going, it would need to be placed near the neighborhood’s entrance on a public right of way.

“We’ve been waiting five months [on permits] with money [for the cameras] in hand,” said Karen Dabbs, secretary for the homeowners association. “There are residents who donated money whose homes have been burglarized in that time.”

Following the neighborhood’s request, the city began exploring options to create a policy for such situations.

“We really want the neighborhoods to try to put [cameras] on private property,” said City Manager John McDonough.

But if private property is not available, city staff looked at alternatives, with “abandonment” of a piece of land no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet being turned over to the neighborhood as the preferred option. Turning the land over would absolve the city of any liability issues.

The policy would also state that a neighborhood would have to approach the council for this to occur, that 60 percent of homeowners in the neighborhood must have signed a petition, and that the city could gain back right of way for widening or utility issues. The policy would also set aesthetic guidelines and height requirements for poles.

“[River Shore] has done just about everything someone sitting up here would want them to do,” said Councilman Graham McDonald, who represents the neighborhood’s district. “I think we need to do everything we can to allow them to get these cameras.”

He told the council that he’s asked the staff to try and expedite preparing a policy for it to be ready by the next council meeting.

“We need to get a policy as soon as possible,” agreed Councilman Tibby DeJulio. He said that $21,000 is not an outrageous sum for two security cameras, and that he expects once a policy is in place, other neighborhoods will follow suit. “We’ve got as good a police force as you can have, but they can’t be everywhere,” he said.

“I smell a consensus to move forward as quickly as possible,” Mayor Rusty Paul added.

Dabbs said after the work session that while she would have liked for the council to set a policy that night, she understood “the need for a greater policy.”

But she also maintained her sense of urgency, saying that burglars will knock on the door and if no one answers will go to the back of the home to break-in. “Daytime burglaries are happening as kids are coming home,” she said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.