Kennewick program helps landlords keep properties safe

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldDecember 24, 2012 

Law enforcement officials often say they need the public's help to fight crime and keep the community safe. Staff at one Kennewick apartment complex joined the battle recently by taking steps to make sure they can provide a safe place for their residents.

The Clearwater Square Apartments, 5031 W. Clearwater Ave., became one of 15 properties in Kennewick to be certified through the police department's Crime Resistant Community Living program.

"This isn't easy to achieve. This is a lot of work," Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg told the apartment manager. "This just shows your commitment level, not only to residents here at Clearwater Square Apartments, but also to the community as a whole."

The Crime Resistance Community Living program, which Kennewick police have offered since 1999, has a three-phase certification process that begins with a landlord training seminar.

The seminar, put on each year with Richland police, provides tips to property managers on how to screen tenants, the eviction process and how to recognize and report criminal activity. Pasco police have had their own landlord training seminars and will join with Richland and Kennewick next year, officials said.

Many apartment managers or landlords participate in the training without moving on to complete the other phases of the program. Kennewick police Officer Allan Knox, who runs the program, says it still helps the city to have landlords attend the training even if they don't get fully certified.

In phase two, Knox makes a visit to the property to look for ways to improve safety. He looks for good lighting, appropriate locks on unit doors, and ways to trim shrubs and trees so they don't provide easy hiding spots for criminals.

The third phase requires the property managers to have two community safety meetings each year to give residents a chance to find out what's going on and talk to police about concerns and crimes in the area.

Knox said only 15 apartment complexes have taken the steps to complete all three phases to get certified.

"This is a very well-kept, peaceful place," he said. "The staff here is to be commended."

Jackie Harvey, manager of the Clearwater Square Apartments, said it was a team effort with her staff to get certified. It also was an easy decision to take part in the program.

"I'm really into safety," she said. "People have choices on where to live and at Clearwater Square Apartments, I think we're the best kept secret."

She said there's one way in and one way out of the 175-unit complex, which helps make it a safe place.

"When people go to bed at night, I want to make sure they know when they put their head on the pillow that they don't have to worry about their car or somebody breaking into their home," Harvey said.

Calls for service to police also have dropped since they started working on their certification, she said. In 2010, police responded to 20 disturbance calls and 35 calls about crimes. So far this year, there have been 14 disturbance calls and 11 calls about possible criminal acts, she said.

"I recommend this program to everybody," she said. "I really do."

For more information about the program, call Knox at 585-4208.

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