Landlords go to school to fight crime - Tucson News Now

Landlords go to school to fight crime

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Every four months, the Tucson Police Department hosts an eight hour class for landlords.

It's designed to help fight crime in multi-housing units. We call them apartment complexes mostly.

It's an incredibly popular program. The classes are filled with 65 to 85 "students".

It started in Mesa 20 years ago and has now spread to 47 states, Canada and other countries, including Nigeria.

It's run by Tucson Police officer Becky Noel.

"I can tell you that properties that participate in the crime free program do not have the violent crime as those that aren't doing the program," she says.

The complexes cut their crime which benefits the tenants, the owner, the surrounding neighborhood and the police department.

"There's so many types of crimes that we go on that we don't need to go to, like lease violations," Noel says.  "That once they are trained, we have to even need to be involved."

One of those who has benefited from the class is Marie Barajas, the manager of the Catalina Apartments near Grant and Alvernon.

The complex had a bad reputation for drug deals, drug use, illegal weapons and a host of other problems.

Police were called nearly every day.

Residents rarely ventured outside after dark.

Barajas was hired 72 days ago.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," she says.

Since her arrival, 49 tenants have been evicted.

"On the first day I as assaulted," she says. "Everything you can imagine I've been through."

While TPD applauds her efforts, likely the best testimonials come from the tenants.

"I feel safe now," says Mary, a tenant for the past three years.

Residents who were afraid to go outside at night now sit in the community area when the sun goes down.

"It's a lot better," says Kesha. "It was a lot of drugs, a lot of drug people. All gone. I love it."

There's still work to be done. ID cards are on order, locks have been put on the gates, there's the fresh smell of paint. Workers are still repairing the damage done by those who were evicted who trashed the place when they left.

"When I first got to this property, I said whoa, there's so much trafficking going on, drugs going on, you've got to put your foot down," Barajas says. "I said this place has to change."

She says the Crime Free classes help keep her updated on what she can and can't do.

Even armed with that knowledge, it can be frightening.

"If I back down from all of that, they're not going to respect the fact what we're trying to do is change" she says.

She might serve as the poster child for the landlord program.

"The crime free program doesn't specify[ that you have to turn away certain people or that you take this type of client," Noel says. We give you the tools and you can develop your own process, you can develop your own criteria."

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