Housing complexes not always a place of solitude for students

 

Tallahassee Police Department has reported hundreds of calls each month to apartment complexes where college students reside. Photo by Shardae Ray
Photo by Shardae Ray

By Shardae Ray 

Outlook Writer 

The pool was enticing. So was the fitness center. The study room was especially appealing to Maya Jean-Charles, a college student.

She just didn’t know that the housing complex she decided was the ideal place to live would at times become a little too uneasy. 

Jean-Charles has heard gun shots and some of her neighbors have reported having their vehicles broken into.

What Jean-Charles experienced isn’t just at her apartment complex. Hundreds of other students have been victimized in ways they didn’t expect at other complexes around town. Tallahassee Police Department disclosed a lengthy log of calls to many apartment complexes that are the primary housing for students.

From December 2017 to the end of May, there were 143 calls to the 3000 block of Adams Street. Over the same time, TPD responded to 144 calls to the 2800 Block of Adams Street.

They’ve responded to domestic violence, residential robberies, auto theft, suspicious persons, trespassing and other incidents.

However, despite TPD’s records of the countless incidents at students’ residents, several property managers have declined to comment on the reported activities that make some residents feel uneasy.

“Police are always here,” said Jean-Charles, a 21-year-old who lives in a Southside complex. “I always hear gunshots. I don’t feel safe at all (and) that’s why I’m moving.” 

The calls that TPD receives from the Southside apartments that primarily houses college students aren’t isolated to that area. Police have regularly responded to other places along Tharpe and West Tennessee streets. 

“There’s always something going on,” said Alyssa King, adding that she “Hates living here.”

King lives at a Tharpe Street complex, where her roommate’s car was broken into. 

“The next day she moved out and I have not seen her since,” said King, who doesn’t plan to renew her lease.

Some apartments have courtesy officers who live at the property or are there as patrols. However, that seldom deters perpetrators.

But even with security, residents like a 20-year-old who gives her name only at Abani R, consider themselves being in a sort of catch-22.

“I feel as though it (the complex) has as much security as it can,” she said. “(But) Residents don’t want to feel watched and controlled.” 

Perpetrators, especially in stolen car incidents, are methodical, said Miller. Usually, they break the small window on the side of a vehicle to gain entry. Sometimes they steal the entire car. 

Once the vehicle is unlocked, the perpetrator uses a valet key, which Millers said most people don’t know is in their glove compartment, to drive off with the vehicle

Miller added that victims sometimes make it easy for the perpetrator when they leave their vehicles unlocked.

Fights are also common at some apartment complexes, often during a party being hosted by a resident.  Some have resulted in an altercation with gunfire, something that Abani has witnessed.

“I was in my room laying down when I heard gunshots that sounded too close,” she said.

She recalled a time when her roommate rushed to the front door and while they discussed what had happened, someone that they didn’t know burst inside looking for a place to hide while gunshots rang out. 

“It was the person being shot at,” Abani said, adding that the person ran off after they said they’ll call law enforcement. “It was pretty crazy.”


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