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.