CPD works with apartment complexes on crime prevention 2

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COLUMBIA - Large apartment complexes are often known as hot spots for crime, but the Columbia Police Department is working to train apartment management to combat that stereotype and those who create it.

All day Wednesday, CPD held a Crime-Free Multi Housing training open to all high density housing complex managers in the area. 

Previously, only five complexes in the city had completed the training:Aria Luxury Apartments, Midtown by Brookside, Brookside Downtown, Townhomes by Brookside and Brookside Downtown on Elm. In the last six months, only Midtown by Brookside has reported criminal activity.

Brookside spokesman Jack Cardetti said the program has been invaluable.

"It's everything from how do you put some of these measures in lease agreements, how do you screen applicants to making sure fire safety rules are followed and how to look out for drugs and other illegal activity," he said.

The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program teaches managers to combat crime by addressing three key elements: target, desire and opportunity. 

According to the manual, "To eliminate the target, we teach how to 'target harden.' To eliminate opportunity, we train residents to be the 'eyes and ears' of the community. To eliminate the desire, a concerted effort is made to keep those with criminal intent from trespassing, visiting or living at the property."

Elizabeth Johnson has lived at Brookside Downtown for one year. She said her neighbors do a good job of being those "eyes and ears" to look out for illegal activity. 

"Usually other neighbors can file noise complaints or if your neighbors aren't happy with the smell or the sounds, then they will turn you in. And I have heard of people being evicted, especially for throwing things off the balcony. That's a big issue," she said.

Johnson said she does not rembmer being screened prior to living in Brookside, but a spokesperson says each tenant goes through a credit and background check. This could keep criminals from living in the complex. There are also locked doors with keypads and security guards to deter criminals from entering. 

Cardetti said, "The most important part of this is that the program just creates a great working relationship with local police and thats what it takes to keep residents safe. Resident safety is our top priority."