Aspen Heights to re-evaluate security after hundreds of 911 calls

Thursday, January 23, 2014 | 9:49 p.m. CST; updated 7:02 a.m. CST, Friday, January 24, 2014

COLUMBIA — Less than six months since the first residents moved into Aspen Heights, the gated community's crime rate has spurred management to call a meeting to discuss residents' safety.

The meeting will convene at 1 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Aspen Heights clubhouse.

Police responded to 218 calls from Aspen Heights between Aug. 1 and Jan. 22, according to the Columbia Police Department dispatch log.

"The call load there has certainly been heavier than we feel it should be," police Lt. Scott Young said.

During the same 5 1/2-month period, 70 calls to police came from the Cottages of Columbia and 39 came from the Domain at Columbia, according to the police dispatch log.

Young said he believes the number of calls may be due to a rocky start with on-site management.

"That may have allowed in a few tenants that more active management would not have allowed and contributed to poor communication of the behavior expected of all tenants," he said.

The criminal activity at Aspen Heights has involved a mix of residents and nonresidents, Young said, but many of the more serious crimes have been committed by nonresidents.

"Generally in such cases the outside suspects were either invited there by a resident or drawn there by a party where the hosts were not picky about who attended," Young said. 

Two full-time police officers live at the complex, said Stuart Watkins, director of public relations for Aspen Heights.

Although residents understand the need for extra security, some are less than thrilled about the on-site officers.

"Now we see two men in uniform at 12 on a Tuesday night, shining their flashlights into people's windows to see what's happening," resident John Ludlam said. "You want to stay safe, but at what cost?"

A recent tweet agreed with Ludlam's sentiment:

Young said the live-in officers typically deal with ongoing issues while providing the appearance of a police presence; though on-duty officers are still needed to respond to active criminal activity.

"Surveillance isn't really the proper term for what they do," Young said.

Some residents said they didn't think management was to blame for the criminal activity.

"I don't understand why all these things have happened. They (management) don't do anything differently than everyone else," resident Kaleb Doyle said. "I think they're doing all they can to make it better."

"Truthfully, it hasn't been a perfect year at Aspen," Ludlam said. "It wasn't what we were promised."

Aspen Heights is looking to expand its security measures, such as more lighting and surveillance equipment, Watkins said.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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Richard Saunders January 24, 2014 | 2:33 p.m.

When you create entire communities of kids just leaving the nest, it doesn't take a genius to figure out it won't make for a mature neighborhood.

So... while Columbia is a beneficiary of the student-loan bubble, it will also pay the price for the disruption to the community.

As always, life is a double-edged sword, cutting both ways. The "Law of Unintended Consequences" cannot be avoided.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 25, 2014 | 5:40 a.m.

@ Richard Saunders:

Excellent analysis. When these situations crop up the first thing I wonder is how many of these so-called "students" should even be there.

(Report Comment)

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