June 23, 2005
One factor people often look at when deciding on a place to live is the safety of their new neighborhood. In Albemarle County, one apartment complex is working hard towards stamping out crime in their community.
"I feel safe. I feel really comfortable," explained Caren Barber. She can say those words and truly mean them. She lives in Park's Edge Apartments along Whitewood Road. The complex is the first in Albemarle to meet requirements giving it a zero tolerance policy against crime.
"Any kind of criminal activity, drug, gang activity, it's all incorporated in their leasing agreement and the managers and the police have a very close relationship, working relationship to dress those needs of their residents," said Officer Mike Hints, with the Albemarle Police Department.
The three-step Crime Free Multi Housing Program teaches managers how to make their buildings safer. They learn background checks and crime prevention strategies, to name a few. Their property itself must also be surveyed and meet certain standards, such as proper camera placement and lighting.
Park's Edge has been involved in the program for about two years and say crime has gone down and residents have been stepping up.
"Now they actually call us when something happens, [like] if their car got hit, vandalized, or something, or if somebody is in the parking lot or a strange car they say 'Well can you go look at the footage to see, " explained property manager, Claudette Greene.
Now Officer Hintz hopes more apartment buildings will soon follow Park's Edge, making it harder for bad apples to spoil communities, but easier for residents to simply live.
"We had some bad times but now we know [that] our children can enjoy the outside and we can enjoy a quiet night at home," said Barber.
Within the next several weeks a sign will go up, most likely right next to the Park's Edge Apartments sign, letting everybody know that this complex does in fact have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to crime.
About 15 other apartment communities in Albemarle will also soon complete the program.