NORMAN — Police are getting ready to launch a program aimed at reducing crime and improving the quality of life at apartment complexes.
The voluntary program involves public education, improvements to lighting, locks and landscaping at apartment complexes and a yearly outdoor event similar to the National Night Out neighborhood crime-fighting awareness campaign.
The “Crime Free Multi-Housing Program” is based on a project initiated in 1992 in Mesa, Ariz. It since has been adopted by other cities, including Midwest City, as well as Dallas, Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls, Kan.
Apartment complexes are really condensed residential neighborhoods, but typically generate more calls for service by police than other neighborhoods, Police Chief Keith Humphrey said.
The complexes, with their high-density populations and the often transient nature of the apartment dwellers, are prone to more crime problems than ordinary neighborhoods, he said.
The complexes are vulnerable to burglaries, vandalism, disturbances and drug-related activity, he said.
“This program is designed to improve residents' quality of life and eliminate the perception that because it is an apartment complex it is a problem. A lot of good people live in apartments,” Humphrey said.
About 5 percent of the population of any apartment complex is usually responsible for the crime or disturbance problems, he said.
Humphrey said his department has done research into the “Crime Free Multi-Housing Program,” which has been used successfully in other cities to reduce crime and calls for service.
Over a three-year time period, he said, the program typically results in a 32 to 77 percent reduction in crime.
To participate in the program, apartment owners and managers are required to attend an education course and sign agreements to meet certain conditions.
Main requirements are that deadbolt locks, peepholes and specific hardware are installed in every unit. Landscaping and lighting standards also must be met.
Tenants are required to sign leases that contain crime-free agreements, which often allows for quicker eviction when problems arise, Lt. David Teuscher said.