Gilbert apartments keeping police busy - East Valley Tribune: News

Gilbert apartments keeping police busy

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Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2008 1:29 am | Updated: 11:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The calls come daily for San Clemente Apartments: shots fired, drugs, child abuse, burglaries.

Those were among the dozens of incidents handled in the past month by police at the Gilbert complex at Power and Germann roads. It has been one of the busiest sites for police during the past few years, requiring officers to respond more than twice a day on average.

San Clemente is one of 28 apartment complexes in Gilbert. While police officials said that apartments aren't a concern, they accounted for nearly half of the town's reported criminal incidents last year.

"I wouldn't go as far to say apartments are a problem," Gilbert police Lt. Eric Shuhandler said. "But the higher concentration of residents living in those types of circumstances can cause increased activity."

About 45 percent of crime reports came from apartments in 2007, police statistics show. They also made up 28 percent of calls for service.

Those are considerable numbers, especially since there are only about 6,000 apartment units in the town of 210,000.

But San Clemente, which opened June 2005, is by far the worst offender.

Last year, police responded to San Clemente 772 times and took nearly 150 police reports.

The next highest was the Gilbert Meadows Apartments with 391 calls, and that complex has about 100 more units.

San Clemente, a 336-unit complex, is designated as low-income housing, which means residents can't exceed a certain income.

People living there and in the surrounding Power Ranch area have complained regularly about the criminal activity associated with San Clemente since it opened.

In June 2006, several Power Ranch homeowners hired an attorney to file a lawsuit against developers after raising concerns the affordable apartments would bring crime. But a lawsuit was never filed.

Gilbert police are working to address the volume of calls and reports that stem from San Clemente.

In e-mails between police officials sent earlier this month, crime analysts were developing ways to convince San Clemente's management company to comply with a national program that helps apartments keep away drugs and other illegal activity.

Officials at Trinity Management, which oversees San Clemente, did not return phone calls.

The police department has been trying for the past two years to get San Clemente to join the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, police documents show.

The program is a partnership between police and apartment communities.

In participating complexes, the management agrees to evict people if they or their visitors are arrested on the property in connection with crimes involving drugs or violence.

Those arrested are also entered into a database and are banned from living in other Crime Free member apartments.

The program originated in Mesa in 1992 and has spread to 44 states.

Other requirements mandate that apartment complexes meet several specifications.

Those include guidelines aimed at improving safety such as peepholes that give a 180-degree sight line, strict lighting positions and landscaping that doesn't give cover to potential burglars.

The program also requires apartment residents to form watch groups.

Every East Valley municipality has apartments that participate, and seven complexes in Gilbert are part of the program.

Those apartment complexes saw about one fourth of the police calls and reports compared to San Clemente.

"It's got a very good success rate," Shuhandler said.

"The track record of the program allows us to set certain standards so that complexes can just flat out get rid of somebody and eliminate future problems," he said.

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