For Jenifer Hayward, property manager at the North Park Apartments, becoming the first certified property in the Joplin Police Department's Crime Free Multihousing Program means a safer complex, the potential for good tenants and., by extension, a safer community.
“When you put that many people together you're going to have some conflict,” she said of the 180-unit apartment complex on Newman Road. “And we’re hoping this can bring us some new potential great residents.”
The program was established 20 years ago in Mesa, Ariz., as a way to make large apartment complexes crime free through cooperation between police and property managers. The North Park Apartments staff celebrated their certification with the Police Department on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting and sign posting, letting tenants know about the complex's new status.
Joplin police Cpl. Brian Henderson said the program reduces crime by building through a relationship between property owners, managers, tenants and the police. In addition to making apartment complexes safer for tenants, Henderson said the program should also reduce the need for service calls from officers to the area, giving them more time on the street.
According to Henderson, service calls by police to North Park Apartments have decreased by 33 percent in 2011-12 while steps toward the program implementation were being taken, and the hope is that the program will reduce calls even further.
Becoming a certified Crime Free property requires three steps. They involve an introductory class, followed by a property inspection looking for things like well-lit areas, secured doors and trimmed landscaping, minimizing places where someone could hide around the complex. The third step involves an event in which tenants interact with one another and the police. In North Park’s case, the event was a pool party.
“It's easy, especially in an apartment, to not get to know your neighbors,” Henderson said.
Vigilance on the part of residents, he said, is an important part of making an apartment complex safer, and while one of the goals of the program is to reduce the need for service calls, Henderson said tenants should never hesitate to call police to report something suspicious.
After becoming a certified property, managers involved in the program begin receiving police reports on calls to their complex, keeping them apprised of problems that might have gone unnoticed, something to which Hayward is looking forward.
Three other complexes around Joplin — Messenger Towers Apartments, 1502 Michigan Place Apartments and Springview Gardens Apartments — are in the second phase of becoming certified for the crime-reducation program.