For years, River Glen Apartments has been known for being crime-ridden, but police said steps taken by the community and management are slowly helping to make it safer for residents.
“We’re not hearing as many gunshots,” Ginger Arthurs said as she walked her dog, Spirit, through the complex on East Telfair Street on Wednesday. “We used to hear them on a daily basis.”
Arthurs said she didn’t feel safe when she moved in a year ago, but now she’s more at ease.
The apartments were thrown into the spotlight in February after a third homicide on the property in nine months.
After the Feb. 5 homicide of Truemaine Jones, 27, PK Management released a statement expressing sympathy and promising to seek “additional strategies to ensure our residents’ safety.”
Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said he’s seeing a change. Law enforcement officials have said the problem at River Glen is not the residents but male visitors to the apartments, which primarily house women and children.
“We see improvements, but the problems are coming from the outside in,” Gay said.
The management group has fixed a broken rear fence that allowed outsiders easy access to the complex. However, it has not followed the sheriff’s office’s recommendation that it install a fence that encircles the apartments.
Gay said the management team is cracking down on “visitor issues” to keep men off the property who are living there without approval or frequently hanging around.
Angela Harden, a pastor at New Destiny Triumph Ministries, was already ministering at River Glen when Jones was killed. Since then, Harden and members of her congregation descend on River Glen every third Friday for a Praise Train Live, where they speak blessings and have games and goody bags for children.
“When they hear me on the mic, it’s on,” Harden said. “They literally come running.”
Harden was personally affected by crime in the neighborhood when her nephew, 23-year-old Angelo Daggett, was fatally shot behind a River Glen Apartments building in May 2011. The case remains unsolved.
She tries to visit the neighborhood several times a week with a goal of reaching the adults. So far, she said, she’s been successful.
“There has been a great impact on the community,” Harden said. “The violence is down and the management shared with us (Monday) how our presence is making such a difference.”
In 2011, deputies responded to 869 calls to River Glen. As of Sept. 30, deputies have responded to 655 calls this year, 14 more than in the same period in 2011.
Although the numbers don’t reflect improvement, authorities said there is less violent crime. The calls also include those from residents for law enforcement to check the area for suspicious activity.
Gay said it’s still too early to be comparing numbers.
Tarika Wilson, who has lived at River Glen for about a year, said she’s definitely seen a difference.
“It has changed. Things have gotten calmer,” she said.
She said police are constantly patrolling the area, dispersing large crowds and talking to people in the streets.
“If they (PK Management) keep doing what they’re doing and we keep doing what we’re doing, we will keep seeing improvements,” Gay said.