Violent crime does not occur in a vacuum. Violent criminals need a place where they feel they can get away with committing their heinous acts. They tend to avoid locations that are well lit, that have obvious security cameras — places with strong fences and gates that make it difficult for people who don’t belong to get in and out. Violent criminals tend to avoid locations with active security guards.
On the other hand, violent criminals are drawn to places that are dark at night, where they know they are not being recorded by security cameras. They know that gaps in a perimeter fence make it easy for them to sneak on and off property, and it helps them avoid police. Broken entry gates that never work mean criminals can come and go as they please. When there are no security guards, criminals feel that no one is paying attention to what they do.
We believe that landlords in Atlanta have a responsibility to provide adequate security measures to protect tenants and guests on their property from violent crime. We’re not the only ones who feel that way. Georgia law says that property owners and managers have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to protect people on their premises from foreseeable risks — including the risk of violent crime.
Over the first weeks of September, we tracked incidents of violent crime at a number of Atlanta-area apartment complexes. Online reviews of a few of these apartment communities show a history of crime on the property, and residents call out obvious security gaps.
Reginold Simon was killed at Point at Westside Apartments near downtown Atlanta. Online reviews reveal that residents have been outspoken about the crime in their community. One resident writes, “You pay all this money to live here, and the gate doesn’t work, there are no cameras, vehicles are constantly broken into, windows being smashed out.” Some residents used the reviews to demand landlords install security cameras and hire security officers.
A “drug-related” shooting at TownPark Crossing Apartments caused police to lock down the campus at neighboring Kennesaw State. This is not the first time the TownPark Crossing has appeared in the headlines. In 2020, the property was the site of a gang-related shoot out
Authorities discovered the body of Johnathan McWilliams at Laurel Pointe Apartments after reports of gunshots. One online review complains of “too many shootings on the basketball court” and suggests “they need to activate these gates to keep people who do not live here out.”
As some of the resident reviews suggest, fixing access gates, placing conspicuous security cameras, and hiring security officers would make these communities less vulnerable to violent criminals, and as news reports and online reviews reveal, each community has a history of violent crime on their property.
Only the survivors and the families of victims of violent crime can stand up to landlords to demand justice. We can use the civil court system to demand compensation for damages, and hopefully force property owners and managers to make the simple improvements necessary to address the known threats of violent crime and keep a similar tragedy from befalling another family in the future. If families and victims have the strength to stand up to landlords who don’t own up to their responsibilities, we can start to Make Atlanta Safe, one community at a time.