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What Could Have Been Done to Stop the Senseless Murder of Rennaee Alexander at Mechanicsville Station Apartments?

A brazen carjacking at the Mechanicsville Station apartments in southwest Atlanta resulted in the shooting death of 48-year-old Rennaee Alexander. A man who rushed to her aid was also struck by bullets and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. As of today, police are still working to identify the perpetrators.

One witness to the violent crime told reporters from 11 Alive that more than a dozen cars had been broken into at the same complex just two weeks prior. Other residents of the community have left online reviews complaining about safety at the complex. One tenant said they have mace and a gun license because, “I’ve never felt this unsafe.” Another resident complained that their car and been broken into multiple times. Several residents complain about garbage in common areas and a lack of maintenance.

In a statement to the press, the property management company in charge of Mechanicsville Station, Columbia Residential, offered their “thoughts and prayers,” adding that they “will continue working closely with Atlanta Police to apprehend those responsible for this tragic loss. . .”

Kind sentiments and prayers are always appreciated, but it will require action to make the community safer for the residents. Poor security and a lack of care given to the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds makes a property an attractive target for criminal activity. In addition to cooperating with the police to catch the criminal, the management at Mechanicsville Station needs to be asking the police what steps it can take to make its apartment community less vulnerable to criminal activity. Security experts refer to this as “target hardening.”

Columbia Residential should know there is a crime problem at their Mechanicsville Station community, and they are required by Georgia law to take reasonable steps to make the complex safer. Better lighting would make it more difficult for criminals to victimize the neighborhood. Suitable access controls, like a gate, would make it harder for non-residents to get in and out. Conspicuous security cameras would let criminals know their activities were being recorded. A security patrol would send a signal that management is committed to deterring crime. All these measures are proven to make communities less attractive to criminals.

When property management companies fail to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their residents, they can be held accountable in a court of law. Attorney Chuck Clay practices negligent security law in Atlanta, and he says that when management ignores crime on their property, blames police for any crime that occurs, and doesn’t make proper investments in security, they can be taken to court by the victims of violent crimes in their community.

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We all know crime is a problem in Atlanta. Police can respond to crimes, but they can only do so much to prevent crimes from happening. Property owners and management companies, however, have the ability to make relatively modest investments in security features that could drastically reduce the likelihood of crime on their premises. When management fails to act on their own, it is up to the victims of crime and the families of those lost to violent crime to stand up and demand justice. By using the civil court system to pressure management companies into doing the right thing, we can help Make Atlanta Safe.

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