Officials from the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program are working with apartment managers in Joplin, Missouri, to improve building safety and lower crime in the area, KOAM-TV reports. A class was held last week to train landlords and building managers on how to provide safer complexes to tenants. Goals included discovering ways to better document issues and deploy more effective tenant background screening
. One suggestion, from corporal Brian Henderson of the Joplin Police Department, was to change the mulch around buildings from cedar to rock. "When someone is walking around your house or somebody is around you can hear them and actually hear the footsteps behind you, rather (than the footsteps) being ... silent in the mulch," he said, as quoted by the news source. He also recommended using natural shrubbery that has thorns, as this actually creates a more obtrusive barrier than fences. KSPR-TV reports that the Crime Free program - developed by the Mesa, Arizona, police department in 1992 - is a three-phase system that ends in certification for property managers who complete the course. Its overall goals are to establish better communication with property owners, create a cohesive working relationship with landlords and identify criminal activity in complexes.