Sandy Springs Seeks Ways to Reduce Apartment Crime, Occupancy Violations

Mayor, Council member discuss possibility of entering apartments to check number of occupants.


There were 13,141 calls for service at in 2011, but there is room for optimism.

Sandy Springs Police expect crime to decrease at 550 Abernathy. The apartment complex has had some of the highest police incidents in the city.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Deputy Chief of Police Kenneth DeSimone said students from the Art Institute of Atlanta committed much of the crime.

“The complex has severed ties with the school,” he said. “We expect calls for service and the crime rate to go down.”

The apartment community has 224 units, 89 of which were for AIA students.

A Sandy Springs Police has looked at top crime densities among older rental communities. During last week’s presented a break down of crimes per 100 apartment units in a year, which included: Highland Circle apartments on Northwood Drive with 27.61 crimes; 550 Abernathy at 24.56 crimes; and The Reserve at Ridgewood on Roswell Road at 21.64 crimes.

The Reserve is undergoing a yearlong renovation as part of a property improvement project.

In reducing apartment crime, DeSimone suggests city officials request resident lists from complexes so police can check for individuals wanted by authorities. Also increasing traffic enforcement around apartment complexes can help to reduce crime, he said. “If you commit a crime, within minutes you are usually mobile in a car. A lot of people don’t realize [nationally] most drug seizures are made on traffic stops,” he said.

Police say Sandy Springs apartments account for nearly 37 percent of emergency calls for service and more than 58 percent of violent crimes.

Occupancy Concerns

Councilwoman Karen McEnerny is in favor of apartment inspections to check the number of occupants. An apartment ordinance requires an inspector to make note if he sees too many mattresses in a bedroom, she said.

“If they’re only inspecting the vacant apartments they’ll never see evidence of occupancy that is unsafe,” she said.

added that crime is connected to too many people living in an apartment.

“Does the fire department have the authority to go in and check as to whether the alarms are functioning,” the Mayor asked.

Should officials be able to enter apartments to check the number of occupants? Tell us in the comments.

“There are limitations as to what you can do going into a dwelling,” said City Attorney Wendell Willard. “Be aware, we talked about people's living dwellings. You can’t differentiate between those living dwellings, and your living dwellings, and other living dwellings as far as the application of the Constitution of limitations.”

DeSimone added that the best way to address occupancy concerns is through code enforcement, and community police officers that are working with apartment management to improve conditions.

“For the police department [to enter the apartment] you would have a criminal search warrant,” he added.

By the Numbers

  •  71 apartment complexes in Sandy Springs
  •  19,577 apartment total units
  •  276 average units per complex
  •  13,141 calls for service in 2011
Toni Reynolds April 05, 2012 at 01:07 PM
when you come home from a hard day of work and can not find a parking space .. And you pay over a $1000 of dollars to live there and these people with three and four cars are taking up all the parking spaces...Yes i would like to see some one to go in and find out how many people are living in one apartment .... What a great idea
Brian Oravetz April 05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Could you expound upon those numbers? 71 apartment complexes, then 19,577 apartment units per complex??? Followed by 276 units per complex? I'm probably missing something; regardless, those seem a "bit" off.
Brian Oravetz April 05, 2012 at 02:21 PM
@Toni, I feel for ya. I used to live in a Post complex, and fortunately, they kept a fairly tight reign on occupancy. As to the issue of "what" a complex can do: Would it not be up to the private business to set the rules regarding occupancy checks, leaving the consumer to determine if they can live with the rule? It would seem that if the complexes are truly concerned that they would have such a rule; which would allow for working in tandem with the city.
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Brian, thanks for bringing that to my attention. It is 19,577 total apartment units in 71 apartment communities.
Stan Dubois April 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I have told the police for the last 10 years how to eliminate crime in apartments and on city streeets DAY LiGHTS criminals love the dull lights they can do their business and not be seen. Another thing wittnes cant see.
Tracey Barnes Manley October 07, 2012 at 04:10 PM
No, I don't think police and fire have the right, or the responsibility, to inspect individual apartments for occupancy levels. That is the responsibility of the property managers and owners. I do believe strict laws could be put in place to limit the numbers and fines imposed on any complex owner/managers that do not properly manage their properties.


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