Photo by Eric Goodwin / Assistant News Editor
Officials from the City of Murfreesboro, officials from MTSU and owners and managers of private apartment complexes met on Thursday after the City and MTSU introduced strategies to fight crime in Murfreesboro.
The officials who met on Thursday included Mayor Shane McFarland, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, City Manager Rob Lyons, MTSU Police Chief Buddy Peaster, Murfreesboro Police Deputy Chief Mike Bowen, Assistant Chief Eric Cook and Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris, according to a City of Murfreesboro press release.
“We are pleased with the level of cooperation and support from the apartment complex managers and owners,” said City Manager Rob Lyons in the press release. “The City, MTSU and privately-owned apartment complexes are united in implementing strategies, sharing data and increasing shared police-apartment approaches to ensure the safety of residents and students who live in off-campus housing.”
The meeting came several days after a new strategy was introduced by the City and MTSU, which is meant to provide MTSU Police with more authority in assisting the Murfreesboro Police in crime-related matters outside of the MTSU campus.
“The MTSU Police — they are all state-certified officers,” McFarland told Sidelines. “(The strategy) is something that we are excited about, to be able to continue our partnership with MTSU. It allows them to patrol in the areas that are closer to MTSU and have a greater presence in those neighborhoods.”
Currently, MTSU Police Department employs 44 full-time officers. Each MTSU officer must go through the same training and employment requirements as every other law enforcement representative in Tennessee.
McFarland stated that he hopes to have the strategy in place within the next month and that the multiple shootings that occurred recently in Murfreesboro are what started the conversation to begin implementing the new strategies.
According to the City press release, City representatives and MTSU officials met directly before the meeting with the apartment complex owners to further discuss the MTSU Police strategy.
Another idea currently being developed by City officials is the safety inspection program for apartment complexes, which would allow police to assess security measures that are in place at the complexes, according to the City press release. The apartment complexes that meet the criteria set by the police and the city would be eligible for an emblem that could be displayed outside of the complex for prospective tenants to see.
“If you want to take the crime and shots fired that are directly in the MTSU area, I don’t want to give the impression that that’s the way it is in all of Murfreesboro,” McFarland said. “If you take the data that we have on shots fired, it has been around a sort of circle where you’ve got the MTSU student apartments. If you were to take those out, you don’t have virtually any shots fired in the rest of the city. Our goal is to ramp up police police presence in those areas.”
The City is also planning to share law enforcement data on service calls at local apartment complexes through a “public awareness crime data webpage” that will be available this summer. Once the webpage is available, MTSU plans to share the data and website as part of their new student orientation.
“We must be energetic and determined in our efforts to keep our campus and community safe,” McPhee said in the City press release. “I am pleased Mayor McFarland and our city partners have long made this a top priority and are willing to explore new ideas.”
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