MARTA opens police precinct in Clayton

When Clayton County residents were debating whether to pay a one-percent sales tax for MARTA in 2014, some opponents of the transit expansion cited fears of a crime surge.

A crime surge hasn’t been seen — at least not in MARTA Police statistics for Clayton County that the transit agency provided Thursday. The statistics showed only two major crimes occurred on MARTA property: the theft of an iPhone and a passenger who threatened a bus operator with a knife. No one was physically harmed in either of the encounters. Countywide crime statistics for 2015 were not immediately available from Clayton County Police Department.

However, one promise that MARTA officials made to locals to address their security concerns was to open a MARTA Police precinct in Clayton. That promise was fulfilled Friday.

The new precinct - MARTA’s first in the county - is across the street from Southlake Mall at 1115 Mt. Zion Rd in Morrow. It occupies more than 4,000-square feet. MARTA officials say it will further enhance the police department’s presence in the county, where MARTA began offering bus service for the first time last year.

Officials from the city of Morrow, including its new mayor Jeff DeTar, along with Clayton Commission Chair Jeff Turner and commissioners Gail Hambrick and Shana Rooks attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday . MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham and Clayton Police Chief Michael Register also were also in attendance.

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“The precinct helps establish a greater presence not only within the Southlake Mall area but all of Clayton,”Chairman Jeff Turner said Friday. “MARTA has worked closely with Clayton law enforcement officials to help keep Clayton’s crime rate down.”

Staff writer Tammy Joyner contributed to this article.

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