Some say a letter sent to tenants at Courtyard Place Apartments in South Bend discourages them from calling 911.
Earlier this year it was revealed that police were called to the Courtyard Place Apartments in South Bend 117 times in the first six weeks of 2012. (Courtyard lies south of Jefferson Boulevard in South Bend at S. 25th Street).
Since that time, there are signs that the complex has gone to great lengths to improve safety. “There’s some fencing in the back that lead to traffic down the (railroad) tracks, that was fixed, lighting overall, there was a lot of broken lights,” said South Bend Common Councilman Tim Scott, (D) 1st District. “I think they were only like 20 to 30 hours on security throughout the entire week, now they have it seven days a week.”
But there’s also one sign that Courtyard Place may have gone ‘too far.’
“I think Courtyard wants to cut down on the number of calls because it’s making them look bad by essentially threatening their residents with eviction,” said Attorney Michael Misch.
Courtyard Place management sent a letter to tenants in March to try and address the problem of 911 calls being made for non-emergency purposes.
The letter reads, “Too many calls are coming from our community for non-emergency issues.”
But the letter goes on to say, “All calls will be investigated and if need be lease violations will be sent out. After (3) three violations, you will automatically be sent to our attorneys for immediate eviction.”
“It says that the police on our premises are a nuisance, I mean every time the South Bend police is dispatched to our community it causes a nuisance, it says ‘every time,’ it doesn't say in the event of a non-emergency, ‘it’s every time,’” said Misch.
South Bend Common Councilman Tim Scott has been working with the apartment complex to address safety concerns. After he was shown the letter today, he said “Maybe this wasn’t the best verbiage, but I think what they want to do is try to reduce nuisance issues on their property, that was the ultimate goal, but I don’t think they want to discourage their tenants from calling 911 for emergency.”
Yet, according to Misch, that’s exactly what appears to have happened. “We represent an elderly woman who was injured trying to get to her apartment, when there was a domestic dispute going on. We asked her why didn’t you call the police instead of just trying to push through and she told us, ‘I didn’t want to get evicted.”
An apartment complex employee today said that the idea was to have complaints like loud stereos handled in house—by a beefed up security staff. Along those lines, tenants were given refrigerator magnets with an afterhours security telephone number.
While Councilman Scott says that police calls to the complex had slowed, he said he was not yet able to provide specific statistics.
The letter in question reads:
Effective immediately Courtyard Place Apartments will be monitoring all 911 calls dispatched to Courtyard Place Apartments. I will be receiving a log of all calls coming from what apartment and what the calls are pertaining to. Too many calls are coming from our community for non-emergency issues. All calls will be investigated and if need be lease violations will be sent out. After (3) three violations, you will automatically be sent to our attorneys for immediate eviction. However, you will still be financially responsible until the end of your lease. Every time the South Bend Police Department is dispatched to our community it causes a nuisance to and/ or annoy, obstruct or interfere with the rights and peaceful occupancy of other residents of landlord. This portion of your lease will be enforced strongly along with the rules and regulations in our lease as well. Remember you are responsible for your gest at all times.