Prospect Park apartment manager Paul Scheurer has seen the benefits of having a police officer live nearby. Immediately after he started renting to an officer, he said a notorious troublemaker moved out.
Scheurer said with an increase in large luxury apartment complexes in Stadium Village, the small amount of officers in the area is concerning. He wants more landlords to follow his lead and offer subsidized housing to police.
Scheurer offered the cop a 50 percent subsidy off regular rent to motivate him to live in the building.
The officer, who’s won a medal of valor from the Minneapolis Police Department, has lived in Prospect Park since March 2011. According to Scheurer, the officer has had a positive influence on the neighborhood.
Other apartment complexes are using different security methods, like private security guards or technology — cameras and secured entry — to ensure the safety of their residents.
Doran Companies, which owns Dinkydome, Sydney Hall and 412 Lofts, has decided to use guards to secure their buildings.
412 Lofts manager Raychel Volker said the building has a regular desk worker during daytime hours who helps answer questions for residents, but a security guard works from 10 p.m. until early morning. The responsibilities of the guards, Volker said, are to monitor the building and control parties.
Kelly Doran, owner of Doran Companies, said strategies for security differ from building to building.
In April 2011, Doran told Scheurer the properties wouldn’t be participating in his plan to rent to police at a subsidized rate, but the company does use off-duty police during bigger events on campus like Spring Jam and Homecoming at the 412 Lofts.
Volker said the police presence has worked well during these events. She’s spoken with a few residents who were indifferent about police or security in the building.
Stadium Village Flats, a luxury complex expected to be finished this fall, is still deciding how it will address security. The building will have a concierge, according to manager Paolo De Jesus, but he’s not sure if the concierge will be a student worker or a security guard. Like at Doran Companies, corporate executives make the security decisions for the flats.
Does it really work?
Scheurer has supporters of his idea to increase the number of police living near campus. Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association President Richard Poppele wrote in a letter of support that the “benefits of police living in campus neighborhoods are too obvious to list.”
Prospect Park resident Rebekah Lorence has lived in a Prospect Park house for 45 years and said “there is a certain degree of comfort knowing there is an officer living in the area.” She said there have been times she’s been concerned about her safety. Her house has been burglarized twice. The second time even led her to borrow her brother’s shotgun for protection.
Jesse Wozniak, a University of Minnesota sociology graduate student, said the biggest effect of police presence is peace of mind for residents — not necessarily lower crime rates.
Wozniak referenced a Police Foundation study that reported “while foot patrol may not reduce crime, it reduces citizen fear of crime.”
But a more recent Philadelphia study concluded that increasing police foot patrol in targeted areas significantly decreased violent crime rates. The study, done by Temple University in the summer of 2009, found that the areas with increased foot patrol showed a 23 percent decrease in violent crimes over a three-month period.
Wozniak said there could be ethical issues with offering police a subsidized rate of housing because the differences in legal rights between police and citizens are less than expected.
“The only difference is that police have many, many more protections in the case they’re wrong,” Wozniak said.
While he doesn’t recommend citizen’s arrests, Wozniak said “any of us can even use force to detain a suspect and take them to jail.”
The value of off-duty police is more about presence than impact, Wozniak said.
“It’s real unlikely an officer would take the garbage out and stumble upon a crime,” he said.
Scheurer said the response from the neighbors has been positive, but few of the major landlords in the area have been willing to subsidize their rent to police.
“If I can afford it,” Scheurer said, “they sure as hell can.”
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