Like many towns Sandersville has areas that attract a lot of criminal activity. Within those neighborhoods are a lot of fantastic people that you'd really like to help. We go out and run the bad guy off the street corner, but it didn't change much. You go back to the same corner and the only thing that changed was the bad guy.
The Sandersville Police Department started a neighborhood assistance program in 2002, hiring the National Guard at a cut rate. The Guard provided the equipment, and its engineering units received valuable on-the-job training. Sandersville provided housing and meals for the troops.
The project was funded in part by seized drug money.And in little more than two weeks the troops obliterated 40 abandoned structures, including some known drug houses and criminal hangouts.
The project was purely voluntary, all done with the property owners' permission, and free of charge to them. The neighborhood was left with 40 clean, empty lots, where reinvestiment is beginning to blossom.
The police chief said, "It's like de-thatching your lawn - it grows back better.