How to make apartment living safer

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Rental communities, such as apartment complexes, are sometimes unpleasant places to live -- plagued by rowdy neighbors, frequent disturbances, sloppy management and, worst of all, crime.

Any program that can sharply curtail these invidious activities should be encouraged -- and so it is with the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, launched in Mesa, Ariz., 16 years ago and since adopted by more than 2,000 communities across the nation and around the world including, most recently, Columbia County.

According to leasing agent Rene Monfort, the program has substantially reduced disturbances at her Ridge Crossing complex. In order to work, the program calls for a coming together of local law-enforcement with apartment owners, managers and tenants in a cooperative effort to eliminate illegal and nuisance activities.

The police role is to train the principals in crime prevention techniques, such as conducting background checks on potential tenants, installing effective locks, upgrading lighting and improving visibility. Apartment managers undergo crime-fighting certification training by police and tenants work with police, landlords and one another to boost awareness of suspicious activities and develop pro-active initiatives to keep the peace.

Columbia County Sheriff's Lt. Patricia Champion agrees with Monfort on the program's success so far and she hopes other rental communities with disturbance problems will also sign up. The program, she says, can be a big plus in recruiting respectable new tenants. Who wouldn't want to live in a crime-free environment?

Aiken and Richmond counties' sheriff's departments say they don't need such a program, at least for now, but they might change their minds when their rental communities hear about Columbia County's success.

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fd1962 12/17/08 - 08:57 am
A possible crime determent

A possible crime determent might be for communities to offer one dollar per year apartment leases to deputies to live there as liasons to this program. Such a lease for exchange of passive security services could be a tax deduction for the management too. Just a thought.

KingJames 12/17/08 - 11:02 am
fd1962, you have to remember

fd1962, you have to remember that what you are suggesting is that deputies drive their patrol cars to their apartments and park them in a highly visible area to deter would-be criminals. That's great and it already happens. Sadly, there are some who complain about the gas that it takes for deputies to drive home. I support the idea, though, because it makes criminals think twice before burglarizing a home. It also reduces response time for a deputy that may be called in for an emergency. They don't have to go all the way back to the station just to get their patrol car and then go to the incident.

imdstuf 12/17/08 - 11:19 am
Sometimes though those

Sometimes though those deputies that live in the complexes are only their briefly, enough time to get some sleep so it really does little good.

Riverman1 12/17/08 - 12:32 pm
It is a fallacy that it takes

It is a fallacy that it takes greater police resources for apartments. Apartment complexes have hundreds of residents living on a few acres. Sure there is going to be crime in such places with lower income people, but those same people spread out over the country would have the same crime. In addition, to police the same number of residents in neighborhoods would require much more police work. More officers, cars and gas. Apartments get a bad rap.

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