Police set to return precinct to Macon Mall

Macon City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday authorized a contract that would enable the police department to move back into Macon Mall, essentially for free.

According to the contract, which still must be approved by the full council and signed by the mayor, the city would pay no rent for nearly 3,000 square feet on the lower level near Sears for the police department’s 4th Precinct. The city also would pay no rent for 2,000 square feet on the upper level near Sears to house the department’s STRIKE Team. Currently, Macon pays The Medical Center of Central Georgia about $1,200 a month for 4,287 square feet of space off Eisenhower Parkway near the mall, where the hospital used to house an urgent care facility. The STRIKE Team works out of the basement of the detectives’ bureau next to City Hall.

Until a few years ago, police had kept a precinct at the mall since it opened in 1974. They moved to The Medical Center property in 2003 in search of more space.

Deputy Police Chief Mike Carswell said that in addition to the savings on rent, moving back to the mall will give the department greater visibility and more operating room for the STRIKE Team.

“I think it will help perception of safety at the mall, for sure,” he said.

Carswell said he isn’t sure how long it would take to complete the move once it’s finally approved. The space will require some preparations ahead of time.

Councilman Virgil Watkins, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said the new precinct will save money and intensify police presence there, which in turn will help combat perceptions that the mall is unsafe.

“That’s a good move,” he said.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.