Community Extra: Working together
In order to stay in touch with what's going on at the street level in Duluth, I am trying to work at least one weekend night shift a month. I worked Friday June 1, and was again reminded why, as a police officer, we need to continue to work close...
In order to stay in touch with what's going on at the street level in Duluth, I am trying to work at least one weekend night shift a month. I worked Friday June 1, and was again reminded why, as a police officer, we need to continue to work closely with landlords in Duluth.
Around 1 a.m. we were sent to a four-unit apartment building where an adult female was attacked by her neighbors. I have been at this building many times on police calls throughout my career, and as a result am familiar with the landlord. When I arrived, I noticed a boom box sitting on an upstairs window facing outside blaring loudly. A very intoxicated female in her forties approached and said she had been beaten by her neighbors. She had some fresh abrasions on her face and a small bump on her forehead. She declined any medical attention and said she was fine. When I inquired as to who assaulted her she said she did not know, but suspected the neighbors with the boom box.
The other officer arrived and told me the apartment with the blaring boom box has become a flop house and there had been many police calls recently. When I knocked on the door no one came except for an aggressive German Shepherd. The dog was able to stick his head through a hole in the entry door that appeared to have been the result of a kick to the door.
I found myself looking at the condition of the building as I was waiting for someone to answer the door. There were no screens on the windows, broken doors, rotten trim, peeling paint, dogs barking non-stop and cats running everywhere. The place was an eyesore.
I wondered what the landlord was doing to manage these problems and more importantly, how the neighbors were coping. I figured since the boom box and night's activities from this building had likely disturbed the entire block, I would call and let the landlord know.
Unfortunately, he did not answer. I left a message and let him know we were at his building and his tenants were disturbing the neighborhood and fighting with each other. I asked him to call me Monday morning.
We were never able to determine who assaulted the drunk female and the boom box was turned off. As part of our effort to address the situation, the renter who had the boom box blaring was cited for disturbing the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, scenarios like this are not uncommon.
When I first began policing 15 years ago, the last thing I ever thought I would learn about as a police officer was property management. However, over the years, I and other officers grew tired of going to the same addresses over and over.
In an effort keep police calls to a minimum and keep our neighborhoods quiet and safe, a number of years ago the police department began offering training to landlords and property managers on how to conduct background checks of prospective tenants and how to successfully evict problem tenants. We made efforts to develop relationships with landlords. Some of our community police officers will even give them courtesy calls if we have problems with their tenants.
In return, some of the more proactive landlords will stop down to the police station every couple of months to monitor activity at their building. While the majority of our landlords do a good job of managing their properties, there is a small percentage whose properties destroy an entire block.
It is necessary for landlords and police to work together in an effort to keep our neighborhoods safe and free from blight and disorder.
As for the building with the blaring boom box, I found the landlord had already been working with an officer to evict the trouble tenants. The Building Inspection Department has also been notified of the violations at the building and has been asked to conduct an inspection of the units.
If you are interested in how you can become a better landlord or property manager, please contact your local community officer.
Duluth Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay can be contacted at 730-5020 or by e-mail at email@example.com .