Landlord turned crime fighter honored - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Landlord turned crime fighter honored

May 29, 2007

Albany--A Dougherty County landlord turned into a civilian crime fighter to help make his community safer. Police say he's been such a help, they're about to honor him for his dedicated work.

"How's everything going?" says Danny Gonzalez to one of his tenants.

You'll rarely find him sitting behind his office desk at Paradise Village. Instead, you'll probably find him socializing with the many people who call his mobile park community home.

"I believe in the community. To be a community, everyone has to be in touch with what's going on," he says.

Since Gonzalez took over the community two years ago, he's made it a much safer place to live.

"This is my neighborhood. So if I'm going to feel safe, I've got to do something about it," he says.

"Mr. Gonzalez approached us, and volunteered his services," says Chief Don Cheek.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek and Gonzalez have worked closely to rid his community of crime.

"He's done an awful lot to cleanup the image of that area. He's got rid of people that weren't willing to abide by the rules," says Chief Don Cheek."

For quite some time, armed robberies plagued Paradise Village. In fact, the park had two in the past four months--all targeting Hispanics who make up 35 percent of the population there.

"They're naturally reaction because they're not fluent in English, is to take the loss," says Gonzalez.

Every time, the victims turned to Gonzalez for help.

"The residents called me right away on my cell phone. We responded right away. DCP showed up immediately. The robbers were identified and arrested," he says.

About 600 people live in the East Albany community. All seem to have nothing but kind words for Gonzalez.

"He cares about us. He cares about the community," says Geunoia Carter.

She's lived at Paradise Village for a little more than a year now.

"I feel real safe. Our landlord, he'll drive you down. He'll have the lights on you and everything, make you think he's the police," she says.

But Gonzalez has a perfectly good reason for his actions.

"If individuals don't step up and do something, then the community is only going to go down hill," he says.

And that's the last thing he wants to happen--especially since his tenants are more like friends.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek will present Gonzalez with a plaque of appreciation Wednesday morning at the Government center in downtown Albany.

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