Landlord partnership keeps gangs out of Prosser

PROSSER, Wash. -- Criminals in Prosser may have met their match thanks to a partnership between police and landlords.

"One bit of crime always leads to another. A drug dealer turns to violence somewhere else."

Let Bo Hulse's words serve as a warning: get rid of crime before it starts, or let Prosser's neighborhoods fall to dangerous people.

"Without the landlord there, police aren't able to intervene. That's their job. That's what they're supposed to do. It says protect and serve on the side."

Increasingly often, Prosser's police calls are about local rental properties, where drug dealers, gang members and other low-lifes hide from the law. To stem the tide of criminals coming from Yakima's Lower Valley, Prosser PD started crime-free rentals: a program where landlords are alerted anytime their tenants get in trouble with the law. The ultimate goal is for landlords to evict violent people and push them out of town all together.

Since being introduced last summer, nearly 200 property owners have signed up for the program. They cover 450 rental units that are now being tracked by police; something that would have benefited Hulce when rowdy teens moved into his building and vandalized nearby homes.

"Anything could have been happening and the police wouldn't know. A dangerous situation could have been going down at the same time."

To keep the success alive, Prosser will soon use a mapping system to track properties with the most police calls in town. Soon authorities will use the program to keep tabs on properties with the worst offenders.

It's all in an effort to keep violent crime from hitting small town USA.