Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

A tenant celebration with treats and a bounce house inside the Seawood Apartment complex Wednesday marked the completion of a program certifying it as a Crime Free Multi-Housing complex.

“The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program is a, state-of-the-art, crime prevention program designed to reduce crime, drugs, and gangs on apartment properties,” according to an information post on the sheriff’s Facebook Page.

Sheriff Erik Apperson, Deputy Dawg and other sheriff’s personnel were on hand to talk to tenants and kids about the program and what it means. Seawood is the first in the county to have completed the training and receive the certification.

Apperson explained the celebration was part of the complex’s completion of the third phase of the program. The first phase is a class conducted at the sheriff’s office. Phase two involves inspections of the property to ensure they are safe and set up in a way that prevents criminal activity.

Classes included training in crime prevention theory, security, resident screening, monitoring and responding, along with gang, drug activity and crime prevention classes. Phase two also taught prevention through environmental design, lock standards and more.

“Phase three is a celebration to let all the tenants know that they have completed that process,” Apperson said. “What’s specifically significant about today is that Seawood is the first in our CFMHP to pass the entire program.”

Apperson explained the foundation of the program is communication between property owners, managers, tenants and law enforcement personnel.

Such measures as lighting a community up at night, trimming brush for better visibility, checking locks and windows, creating strong communication with management go a long way toward reducing crime, he said.

Owner Walter Miller said new windows and security devices were installed throughout the complex to impede illegal access.

Manager Jim Sanders, Miller and Apperson said they had been discussing the plan for a couple years and Seawood will serve as the flagship property for its implementation. Apperson said the international program had been proven to reduce criminal behavior in thousands of communities. Being able to bring a property up to a certified level where it passes the crime free inspection benefits the complex, he said.

“If a potential renter is looking for a place to call home, and they Google Seawood, they’re going to see that they are a Crime Free Multi-Housing property and they’re going to see others that aren’t,” Apperson said. “It works two ways. You get the tenants that say ‘I want to be be where they work with law enforcement, I want to reside in a community that collaborates with law enforcement’ or you get the tenant that sees they collaborate with law enforcement and doesn’t want to rent there, and quite frankly, you don’t want those people to rent there.”

Apperson said the collaboration lets officers know they are welcome to patrol the community, which will result in a higher presence there. Tenants and property managers are well-connected via a private social networking that allows them to report and relay information immediately and report to authorities.

Sanders noted the property has two social networks online, one open to the public and the other restricted to tenants. He said all reports of suspicious activity in the complex are noted on the social network and many law enforcement and correctional officers already live in the complex.

Apperson noted the complex also has a lease agreement that prohibits illegal activity of any kind and is grounds for eviction if violated. He said the agreement also sends a message the complex is not interested in renting to people who might engage in criminal behavior.

Apperson said he hopes the program can expand to other housing complexes in the area.

For more information, call 707-464-4191.