Source: Make it Mesquite
You can have all the material things in the world but for most folks, what they really want is just a safe place to lay their heads at the end of a long, hard day. A safe, quiet place to call home.
While safe and quiet could be somewhat easier to accomplish in a single-family residential neighborhood, the compact density of apartments can make achieving that goal just a little more difficult.
That’s where a relatively new program administered by the Mesquite Police Department is hoping to make a difference for residents living in apartment complexes.
The Secure Apartments For Everyone program, according to Lt. Stephen Biggs, is a partnership between the department and 35 apartment communities to address criminal activity and situations of disorder with tenants and their guests. Biggs, MPD’s public information officer, said the department’s crime prevention unit liaisons with apartment managers and provides them with crime prevention tools as well as email communications about what is going on in their respective communities in regard to crimes or calls for service.
“The SAFE program began as a means for MPD to be able to communicate directly with the management teams in each community,” Biggs said. “In return, the management teams have a specific officer they can contact to assist them with police and non-police concerns. The program aims to reduce crime, expand information sharing and let our citizens feel safe in the communities they call home.”
Biggs said that in addition to the 35 communities currently participating, MPD has done in-person presentations to 14 other apartment communities in Mesquite and the department hopes to ultimately achieve 100 percent participation by the city’s 63 complexes.
Councilman Kenny Green, who represents District 2, is the lone member of the city council who lives in an apartment – having resided at the Villas at Vanston Park since January of 2017.
“I think it’s great when apartment management and ownership is committed to keeping their properties as safe as possible,” Green said. “Although not a fix-all solution, the SAFE program establishes some known standards to act as crime deterrents. Apartments do present their own unique challenges with so many different families and personalities living within close proximity of each other so a program like this is crucial to keeping people safe. I would love to see all complexes in our city become part of the SAFE program.”
Biggs said there is no cost for the program and it’s voluntary. The management team is asked to abide by 10 SAFE program stipulations that closely mirror a standard lease agreement already used by the management teams. He added that one of the most important components of the SAFE program is the information sharing between the police department and the community managers.
“This helps both identify issues on the property that are concerning to police, management and most importantly, the residents who live in these communities,” Biggs said. “The problems can range from nuisance issues such as loud noise calls to narcotics complaints. Also, if it is a non-police matter we can assist in getting that complaint to the correct city department (code enforcement, building services, etc.).”
Biggs said that while mainly dealing with the management of the apartment communities, crime prevention officers have met with patrol units at specific apartment units to address issues of concern and another MPD effort – the 13M Patrol program – directly benefits SAFE apartment communities. The 13M Patrol program directs officers to specific locations within their beats to be visible for 13-minute increments. During that time, officers talk with neighbors, interact with kids out in the neighborhood or simply complete reports in their patrol car.
So far, Biggs said, the program has been impactful and beneficial to the city’s apartment communities.
“We listen to all concerns of our community partners and provide crime prevention measures (camera trailer, skywatch, etc.) to address those concerns,” he said. “We provide calls for service to the apartment personnel to help identify problem areas in their community as well as documentation to assist in the eviction process should that be necessary. We have also criminally trespassed non-residents who have caused concern to residents and/or management.”
Biggs said the crime prevention unit is working its way toward making in-person contacts with every apartment community in the city and that any who have not been contacted and want to participate should contact Officer Greg McMillen at 972-329-8757.
He added that the SAFE program is meant to send a clear message to apartment dwellers.
“We want to convey that it is important to the police department and city government that residents feel safe working and living in their community,” Biggs said. “Residents of these apartment communities communicate with their managers about issues and these apartment managers have direct access to the police to convey these concerns. Once we know there is an issue, then we get to work to try to find a solution.”
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