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Police Look to Apartment Property Managers to Reduce Crime

New program aims to educate apartment managers about how to do better background checks, install secure doors and improve lighting on their properties

Published Wednesday 9pm

The Novato Police Department has launched a new program aimed at educating landlords and property managers about being more diligent about who they rent to in hopes of reducing crime and calls for service to their complexes.

It’s called Crimefree Multi-Housing and began in Mesa, Arizona in the ‘90s. Since then the program has been used by police departments all over the country who swear on its effectiveness.

This month, Crimefree Multi-Housing kicked off in Novato, with ten representatives from local complexes attending an eight-hour seminar at the police department. There they learned about why it’s important to conduct a background check on new tenants and how things like additional lighting and clean landscaping can improve safety for all residents, as well as the legal problems landlords can face if a crime occurs on their property.

“A lot of people take a deposit and credit check and that’s it, and you can be putting people at risk when you do that,” said Officer Nick Conrad, who is overseeing the program for the Novato Police Department. “What a lot of people don’t understand is that apartment managers have an obligation to offer a safe place to live and that they can be held liable if something happens there.”

Upon completion of the class, property managers are given something called a crime-free lease addendum, essentially a contract between the lessee and the management company that spells out which crimes will result in immediate eviction. 

That involves things like shootings, making criminal threats, selling drugs or prostitution, creating a zero-tolerance policy for activities that make other tenants feel unsafe and attract future problems.

Crimefree Multi Housing is voluntary and there is no way the police can make a property owner participate. But Conrad says the response so far has been positive, although there are still many complexes to reach out to. 

Similar programs already exist in San Ramon, Fairfield, Riverside and many other cities and suburbs around the country. The Riverside Police Department, for example, has seen a 75 percent drop in calls since implementation and credit it with freeing officers up to do other tasks.

“I have seen first hand how a crime ridden apartment complex can be turned into a livable, virtually crime free community,” said William Rodriguez, an officer with the Riverside Police Department, in an online testament. “The managers, residents, and patrol cops all love it. The managers love managing a crime-free property. The residents love living in a safe community and the "coppers" love the decline of calls for service... It’s a win-win situation for all.”

As a final phase of the program, the apartment complex holds a party where residents are urged to be involved in reporting suspicious behavior. Landlords also receive a placard to place in a prominent location, which can assure residents that they care about what goes on there and help prospective tenants when they’re hunting for a place to live, Conrad said.

The owners also receive a monthly printout about calls for service to their property.

“We try to drive home the idea that crime is a community problem, not just a police problem,” Conrad said. “We all have an obligation to make it a better place to live.”

Are you an apartment resident? If so, we want to hear from you. Does your complex need this program and if so, why?

Have a news tip for Novato Patch? Drop Local Editor Karina Ioffee a line at karina@patch.com. You can also Like us on Facebook , Follow us on Twitter @NovatoPatch or start your own Blog.

Gram November 21, 2013 at 09:26 AM
Caution needs to be used here as some folks will feel guilty or embarrassed if they really need to call police for assistance. So Dispatch needs to be patient, especially with the older folks, and of course the Officers don't want the people they serve to feel that they are troublesome to the police.
Concerned Neighbor November 21, 2013 at 09:54 AM
I think another think managers need to focus on is the guests of tenants. I lived at wyndover and the manager didnt involve herself in the community at all, she cancelled all the neighborhood watch meeting cause she was tired of the same people complaining about the same things; however, if she attempted to correct the problem then the complaints would cease. Also, though she was notifed of issues with certain guests, loitering or drug/gang activity she didnt address them -she would sent out notices saying this and that were unaccunacceptable but never did anything to enforce the rules. Security would even argue with tenants because they had spoken to her and were advised not to address the issue. She is hardly ever there and she lives there, good thing they have a good leasing agent or nothing would get done.
Gram November 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM
So....who do we thank for this deplorable situation? Who truly is responsible in this city that you have to live this way, which is dangerous and despicable?
Karina Ioffee November 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM
That's interesting Concerned. I hear that the Wyndover management has signed up for this program so hopefully things will improve. Anyone else a current or previous resident of apartments in Novato? Could YOUR management use this course?
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr November 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Ah, maybe ask the police department and city council that enforce political correctness instead of the laws of the land, who is responsible? Ask Chief Little Barney Fife and Eric Lucan.
Sam November 21, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Talk about crime ! A Bank Got robbed on Grant ave today
Brant November 21, 2013 at 02:32 PM
But if all of the checking by property managers results in a tenant population that is inappropriately statistically skewed, does that not put them at risk of violation of Federal equality or anti-discrimination laws? Perhaps someone who understands the statistical stuff could comment?
Craig Belfor November 21, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Brant's right. We need to make sure that we don't discriminate against people who have rights, even if they are the ones committing the crimes. The Agenda 21 mandate says we have to live with everyone, regardless of their contributions to the community. I'm thinking of not working any more and going section 8. They have better cars.
Sharon Moretti November 21, 2013 at 10:22 PM
There's a group of Hispanic men - late teens, early 20's - who gather on the private path behind our building and smoke marijuana, eat, throw trash everywhere. For months we've told the security officers, but there's been no change.
Bob Wang November 21, 2013 at 11:57 PM
I think we need toss aside this sensitivity of offending someone if they commit a crime and they happen to be a minority. When was the last time you read about a white guy committing a crime, bring caught red handed and then claiming he was arrested due to his ethnic background? No matter what race or color a person is, if you commit the crime, you should held fully responsible for your actions. Look at Israel as a good example, their laws allow them to profile and it helps increase the safety of their citizens. I for one would support any changes by the TS that would allow them to they treat an 80 year old grandmother from Kansas with less scrutiny than a foreigner traveling with no luggage and a wad of cash. If it's smells like S and looks like S, the odds are that it is S. That's not racial, it's simple logic
Trailbikerbilly November 22, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Israel's profiling lets them bulldoze the homes of suspected terrorists who are actually innocent people living on land Israel wants.
Karina Ioffee November 22, 2013 at 01:34 AM
@Sharon. Which complex? If you don't want to post here, feel free to email me your concerns at karina@patch.com
Concerned Neighbor November 24, 2013 at 07:41 PM
I'm going to guess wyndover...because that sounds awfully familiar. Wyndover may have signed up for it but the manager will not enforce it or do anything about it. Her only course of action is to evict people who continually bother her with things...security issues...trashed parked out of registration vehicles...people jumping fences...etc. other problem is security and police are slow to show up unless someone is dying.
Concerned Neighbor November 24, 2013 at 07:45 PM
We called one night because of a physical altercation that started at 7-11 with a tenant and his girlfriend. The police didn't want to speak with people who witnessed it...they only spoke to the parties involved ( who obviously lied ) told the girl to not come back...she did..etc..policed had to chase through the apartments because another fight happened..same parties involved...5 police cars showed up...and not one person went to jail.
Concerned Neighbor November 24, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Drug deals happen all the time right outside the gates. Tenants get assaulted by guests of other tenants (who's apartments have been raided for drug activity) and management tell police she doesn't know who the visitor was (LIE LIE LIE) because the guy used to live there and was kicked out...not because he was selling drug but because he didn't pay rent. The manager is not working to fix the problems...she just doesn't want people to call her on not doing her job. All she wants to do is be fake by acting like she cares while she doesn't nothing to fix problem.
Craig Belfor November 24, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Notice how none of this gets into Patch's police reports? That's because the developers of AH who are making millions by making Novato the dumping ground for Marin and the bay area don't want the people of Novato to know the real truth about the effects of affordable housing on the police budget. The city council also hides the facts, as most of them are tied to the building industry. Wake up, people. Our tpwn is being sold down the river by our own city council, and the Patch is turning a blind eye.
Roger November 24, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Crime-free contract sounds nice, but it is voluntary. We should get a report on how many apartment complexes actually use the contract and the complexes' names that decide to reject it.
Craig Belfor November 24, 2013 at 11:34 PM
It's required of section 8, that no felons and no harboring of felons are allowed. All we need to do is enforce section 8 laws. The AH sites should lose their tax breaks if they don't live up to the rules of their contract. Patch needs to report the police log in it's entirety to let the public see the real cost of AH. Come on, Karina, post all of the reports. Don't listen to the council, who is under the influence of the developers of AH.

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