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Aspen Heights, police meet to discuss safety, crime prevention

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | 9:22 p.m. CST; updated 6:41 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
From left: Dionne George, off-campus student services coordinator; Joel Alvarez of The Grove; and Russ Murphy of Aspen Heights listen Tuesday during a forum at Aspen Heights as Columbia Police Officer Melvin Buckner discusses the neighborhood watch system.

COLUMBIA — Simple precautions such as locking doors, closing blinds and activating alarm systems are steps residents of student housing complexes can take to prevent crime.  

That was the bottom line at a meeting of law enforcement, city and MU officials, as well as representatives of Aspen Heights, where the meeting took place Tuesday afternoon, and The Grove.

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The purpose of the meeting, which was not open to residents, was to discuss what could be done to reduce crime in student apartment complexes. Other complexes were invited to attend, but only The Grove sent representatives.

Crime has been a concern at Aspen Heights since it opened in August. Police have responded to 248 calls there since Aug. 1, according to Columbia Police Department dispatch data. In most of the burglaries reported, the point of entry was an unlocked door, Aspen Heights President Greg Vestri said. 

Those in attendance agreed that educating tenants on how to keep themselves and their property safe was a top priority.

"I think there is that false sense of security," said Columbia Police Officer Caleb Bowen, whose patrol area includes Aspen Heights.

Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard said a "party atmosphere" might have resulted in much of the crime reported after Aspen Heights opened. 

"The last few months, it's calmed down quite a bit," Bernhard said.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.


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