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Sheriff’s Office expands reach

North, South Hall precincts opened to improve service

POSTED: May 16, 2014 12:51 a.m.

Local officials said they approve of the direction the Hall County Sheriff’s Office is headed as it opens the doors to the first of two full-service precincts in the northern and southern parts of the county.

“I think that folks are really going to like this, because they won’t have to drive if they need to do an accident report, or any other kind of day-to-day report,” said District 2 County Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose constituency covers the northern part of the county, including Clermont.

“I think it also gives the sheriff’s office more of a presence, and I think for law enforcement presence is huge,” he said. “It gives people a sense of security; you never know when the deputy is going by the house. ... I think presence is one of the things that helps cut down crimes.”

The grand opening of the relocated and renovated Clermont precinct on Dean Street is at 2 p.m. today. Sheriff Gerald Couch has touted the precinct as one of the customer service-oriented moves for the office, allowing both an expansion of access for residents and a better allocation of the department’s resources.

“The North Precinct is the first visible move toward our goal of decentralizing our patrol activities, and we’re very grateful to have the kind of partnership with the city of Clermont that made this possible,” he said.

The town of Clermont helped facilitate a more cost-effective expansion by swapping buildings with the sheriff’s office. The city’s Town Hall now occupies the former base of patrol on King Street, across the park.

“By moving our base of operations out into the county, we’re in a much better position to serve the citizens,” Couch added. “These precincts will allow us to become a more integrated part of the communities that we serve and provide a sense of residency. By the same token, we hope the citizens will embrace us as their new neighbors and look forward to working with us as we transition into their communities.” 

Couch first explained his plans for North and South Hall precincts to the Hall County Board of Commissioners at an October work session, adding it was former sheriff and current board Chairman Richard Mecum who made the move to create precincts as a base for patrol when changing shifts.

“The idea was that they would come to that precinct rather than coming all the way to Gainesville and then out again,” Mecum said. “It kept officers closer to their districts at least, so you didn’t have a long time where you had a district vacant.”

Making the precincts more integrated into general operations is the logical next step for a growing county, he said.

“(Couch is) taking it a step further, and there’s another precinct we’re really looking forward to and that’s the one down south,” Mecum said.

Couch has said the South Hall precinct will be more in the vein of a satellite headquarters, featuring a criminal investigations division.

And both north and south offices will have a community service officer, a position Couch created about a year ago.

“It’s a good vision, good insight into how the department works and a good idea as far as the service is concerned,” Mecum said.


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