Police chief walks 5th Avenue with residents
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.
Gainesville Police Department Chief Tony Jones takes a lot of pride in being responsive to the needs of the people he serves, so when residents ask him to come and see what is going on in their neighborhood, Jones does not hesitate to do so.
Last Tuesday, with a light rain on a cool and dreary night, Jones joined members of the 5th Avenue Neighborhood Association and others during a 30-minute walk through the neighborhood, once the hub of social and economic activity for blacks in Gainesville.
The walk began at the city of Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency at 802 NW 5th Ave., then proceeded west on 5th Avenue to NW 10th Street, where it turned right and did a sort of a U-turn while going through a vacant lot and the back of the A. Quinn Jones historic house at 1013 NW 7th Ave., and back down 10th Street heading south, where it turned left on NW 4th Place. The nearly 25 residents and officials involved strolled down NW 4th Place to NW 6th Street, then turned left at 5th Avenue before heading back to the CRA.
In a brief talk with residents before the walk, Jones said he walked the area in early November with some of the officers who patrol the area, and he said the GPD Gang Intelligence Unit has deployed some resources in the area. "We've also been working with (city of Gainesville) Code Enforcement because some code enforcement issues were brought up at the last meeting I attended with you all," said Jones.
Todd Martin of the Code Enforcement Department said some residents have come in compliance with some complaints, while others have not. He said those who have not will have liens placed on their property if they don't do so by January. Martin told the residents participating in the walk to give him the addresses of any properties they think have code enforcement issues.
Martin said code enforcement looks for junk and trash on property as well as "busted windows and abandoned cars."
He also said there is a little known ordinance that prohibits indoor furniture from being outside from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
"You can't have a couch sitting on your front porch that belongs in the house," Martin said.
Also before the walk, Jones told residents to show him the problems that concern them.
"That's is why I do these walks," he said. "I want the citizens to show me where the issues are. We have people that take notes, and we follow up on them."
At the A. Quinn Jones house, Ernest Graham, a GPD crime prevention officer, used his flashlight to show several broken windows, while Jones observed that the motion lights hanging from the roof of the house were not working properly because they didn't come on when people walked near the house. The house was donated to the city and is in the process of becoming a museum to honor the late A. Quinn Jones, the pioneer of black education in Gainesville,
Also during the walk, residents and Jones alike remarked about how a lot at NW 10th Street and 5th Place had recently been cleaned up by its owner.
Dale Harris, a member of the 5th Avenue Neighborhood Association for several years, said she was glad Jones took the time out of his schedule to walk with the association.
"I felt that if it was important for the chief to want to walk around our neighborhood, that we should support the effort," said Harris, adding that Jones and GPD immediately responded to some of the association's concerns expressed at the October meeting. "We continue to hope that there will be an ongoing dialogue between the police department and our neighborhood association as we continue to improve the neighborhood."