Southaven Police Chief Tom Long says that the department discovered that one of the biggest problems in apartment crime situations was a lack of communication. The trouble was that many of the apartment complexes had no lines of communication with one another. For instance, if an especially bad tenant were removed by police and evicted for some misbehavior, the person would just collect their belongings and move across the street to a new complex. The new apartment complex was likely totally unaware of previous problems with the tenant. The lack of communication created a situation where crime moved cyclically, shifting between several big apartment complexes.
The Southaven Police Department’s new Street Crimes Unit has changed all that. The two officers that make up the unit visit with apartment managers on a regular basis. Their goal is to help prevent crime before it happens. The Department realized that 1/3 of Southaven residents live in apartments with only a handful representing real criminal hotspots. The officers then targeted these apartment complexes, asking that management take a more active role in monitoring and enforcing rules on tenants. The two officers set a goal of meeting with 15 property managers on a weekly basis, updating them about police concerns and gathering information about tenant trouble.
The officers say their efforts have paid off and that more complexes are enforcing their rules and quickly acting in the face of trouble. Now the complexes that used to be seen as the city’s worst are cleaned up and have significantly fewer reports of crime. In the case of one complex, Oak Ridge Apartments, the difference has been dramatic. The property manager says that since the launch of the street crimes unit, the complex has not had to hire a courtesy officer and that local pizza companies will now deliver to the complex. This represents a big change from the situation in 2008 when the same complex was the site of a double murder.