MID-AMERICA CRIME FREE, INC.
Police officers from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska have formed this corporation to present the Crime Free Multi-Housing (CFMH) program. The program is under the auspices of the various local police departments in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. The goal of the program is crime prevention in rental housing. The CFMH program is a three-phase program consisting of one day of classroom activities, a physical inspection of the property, and a social program for the tenants.
The Phase I class is a full day seminar. The first hour of the class is taught by the police and deals with “CPTED” or “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.” This instructs the landlords on issues of physical security for the property such as “lights, locks, and landscaping.” We teach the property owner how he can make the property less susceptible to crime and still maintain curb appeal.
The next hour of the class deals with tenant screening. Landlords can no longer rely simply on credit issues but should also screen the applicant for issues of safety and identity. We teach property owners how to determine if identification documents are genuine and have books available which describe (with photographs) driver’s licenses from every state along with passport and other immigration documents. We teach the property owner how to truly verify an applicant’s background, employment, residence history, and criminal history. We alert the property owners to the techniques used by drug dealers and terrorists to obtain housing by fraudulent means.
The class then turns to the issues of leases. It is important for a landlord to have the best lease possible. The best way to evict a troublesome tenant is to prove he has violated the lease. It is therefore important to have lease provisions that afford the most protection to the landlord and the property. Current law and approved lease provisions are helpful in removing drug users and violent individuals.
Eviction procedures are an important part of the class. The most common reason for eviction is simply nonpayment of rent which is addressed in a “rent and possession” suit. If a tenant is in violation of the lease he can be evicted in a suit for “unlawful detainer.” Finally, if the tenant’s presence on the property constitutes a physical threat to the landlord, or another tenant, or to the property, or if the tenant is involved in drug activity, an expedited eviction procedure is available.
Another important part of the program is drug recognition. The police will demonstrate what a methamphetamine lab actually looks like and what to do if there is evidence of a meth lab on the rental property. Other items of drug paraphernalia are also demonstrated to the class along with a discussion of the warning signs of drugs on the property. An important part of this program is teaching the property owners how to keep drugs and drug activity off their property. The program stresses the importance of education of the property owner and his office staff and communication between the management, police, and the tenants. The owner/manager learns how to recognize drug activity, how to work with police to alleviate the problem, and how to use the landlord-tenant laws to keep the rental property as drug-free and crime-free as reasonably possible.
The landlords will learn which issues are best handled by the police and which by the eviction system.
We intend that there will be at least one class per month somewhere in our region. Classes have generally been conducted in locations where we can obtain free meeting rooms, such as libraries, meetings halls of fraternal groups (such as the Masons, Knights of Columbus, etc.), meeting rooms in apartment communities, churches, or other interested groups who will provide adequate facilities as no charge. The programs are conducted by the local police officers who are teaching the class.
Phase II of the CFMH program is an actual physical inspection of the apartment community in accord with CPTED standards. There are minimum guidelines pertaining to locks, lighting, and landscaping with which the property must comply in order to be a certified member of the CFMH. The inspection is performed by police officers who are part of our association and who have been trained to conduct this phase of the program. In addition to the minimum requirements, the owner/manager of the property is also given suggestions for additional security and crime prevention measures if appropriate.
Our association does not sell any security or anti-crime product so the security inspections are absolutely objective. We will see no profit (or loss) dependent on the outcome of the inspection.
Phase III of the program is a “safety social.” This is a program aimed at the tenants of the certified property and is conducted with the owners and managers of the rental property. A social event, such as a pizza party, barbecue, pool opening/closing, etc. is given at the expense of the rental property owner. The local police appear to speak briefly about safety and crime prevention on the property.
The Crime Free Multi-Housing program has achieved remarkable results. Even in high-crime areas, properties participating in the program have decreased police calls for service by 65% to 85%. This is a nationwide program in about 2500 cities in the U.S. and Canada. One remarkable achievement is that not one certified property has ever been successfully sued in a premises liability case.
The net effect of the program is lower crime and fewer people being injured or victimized on the rental properties.
In the entire country, there are only seven trainers who have been certified by the national CFMH program to train other trainers in this 3-phase program. We are fortunate in having two of the seven in our association.
Our Crime Free team of trainers is available to present the program anywhere in the Midwest.
ROBERT J. WISE
Executive Director, MACF, Inc.
P. O. Box 480187
Kansas City, MO. 64148-0187