How often are you and your apartment staff in communication with your local police department? If and when something undesirable happens on your property, how involved are you and your staff with the police afterwards? Is your Police Department overwhelmed so with calls, that it takes time to make it to your property, and sometimes not at all? If the only communication your property staff has with the police is at your mandatory crime watch meetings, consider the statistics on how crime-free programs have positively impacted many cities around the country.

Most property managers and owners have probably at least heard of the Crime Free Multi-Housing Association, started in Mesa Arizona, by the Mesa Police Department in 1992. This program was specifically designed to reduce crime, drugs, and gangs on apartment properties. What you may not be aware of is the overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests that while training is a commitment, the results and positive impact to your community are extremely rewarding.

"The City of Champlin in Minnesota has been running the program since 1997. The program has worked for our city with a population of 23,000. The training we received from the Mesa Police Department was the spark we needed to get our program off and running. We had our program evaluated by Mankato State University and the results were an overall reduction to calls for service and crimes by over 36%." - Police Officer Kevin Wagman, Champlin, Minnesota.

"The Crime Free Programs ARE the most successful crime prevention education programs currently available in the world. In Kansas City, MO the pilot program we started has had a great impact on our crime rate and on the perception of the police within those communities. The programs do involve commitment from the PD and the city, but isn't that our purpose?" - Police Officer Chris Sicoli, Kansas City, MO Police Department, Crime Free Coordinator North Patrol Division.

The Crime Free Program consists of three-phases that are completed under the supervision of the local police department. The development of the Crime Free Lease Addendum was put in place as a deterrent against on-property crime. The addendum specifies that criminal activity committed on the property will result in immediate termination of the lease. The program achieved almost instant success, with properties certified in the program showing an average 75% reduction in crime and/or police calls to participating properties, and in some cases as much as a 90% reduction in crime.

Another step in the right direction, if your owner is not ready to complete the certification, is the implementation of a criminal trespass affidavit. This documentation is typically available at Crime Watch Meetings and on police department websites. Managers can sign these affidavits to allow police officers to remove or arrest persons found on the property when they are not authorized. The property owner / manager will technically be the person filing the criminal complaint against the violators. This is something that can easily be signed and read through in a few minutes time, but it does need to be updated with each new manager.

Instead of going to Crime Watch Meetings simply because they are mandated, consider how following all of the guidelines, or at least looking into different safety options can change the reputation of your community, raise property value, protect residents and staff, and create a channel of communication with your local police department.

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