By Laura Ann Sills - email
HARRIS COUNTY, GA (WTVM) - The Harris County Sheriff's Office is thinking outside the box to stop criminal activity in one neighborhood.
A double-wide trailer in Pine Mountain on Nelson Road used to be a local hang out for criminals, now it's a hangout for Sheriff's deputies.
Sheriff Mike Jolley is renting the building from the owner for a dollar a year.
Although the Sheriff's Office isn't actually living in the house, as renters, they have certain rights they wouldn't have as officials. For example, they don't need a search warrant to go in and can arrest anyone that comes on their property.
Investigator Glenn Presley said, "We can turn around and use it as a place to write reports, we can use it as a meeting place, a place to store things, a command post for that area, it kind of takes it away from them [criminals] and use it for the good."
Sheriff's offices and other law enforcement usually seize or condemn criminal properties to keep the bad guys away.
Sheriff Jolley said, "Because the owner has worked hard all his life to own that property and I don't want to see the Sheriff's Office or county to take it away from him when we might be able to solve his problem and our problem through thinking outside the box."
The property owner complained to Sheriff Jolley that his son and other criminals kept using the trailer as a drug hang out and a place to store stolen property.
"He's tried to rent it out and no one wants to rent it cause its reputation," but it's that reputation that drew Sheriff Jolley to the trailer.
While cleaning it out on the first day they rented it deputies recovered a stolen car, stolen tires, rims, amps, and TVs as well as marijuana and cocaine.
Sheriff Jolley says, "This is a way of returning a neighborhood that has gotten a little out of control back to the people that live there and making it safe for their kids to play and a safe place for them to live."
The Sheriff hopes the problem will be solved within two to three months and the Sheriff's office will no longer need to be renting the property.
He says if Harris County residents are having trouble in their neighborhood with a home where they know drugs are being dealt, or stolen property is being housed, they should call the Sheriff's Office at 706-628-4211.