WALLA WALLA: Efforts to combat apartment crime

WALLA WALLA - KEPR knows safety is a top priority when it comes to where you live. It's why we're digging deeper into efforts with crime free rental programs. And we learned results in Walla Walla have been improving until a recent uptick.

"Sometimes there were drug issues, sometimes alcohol issues, it would scare tenants," said rental property owner Judith Violette.

Judith Violette has seen her share of crimes in apartments. She and her husband have owned several Walla Walla rental properties for years. Renters have even threatened to kill her husband. Judith says police involvement *used to be dismal.

"It was a difficult time, and the police response would be 'well, we didn't see it,'" added Violette.

But she's seen things change since the crime-free rental housing program started. She's not surprised to hear the number of calls to police went down by about a quarter across Walla Walla in the last decade. Police say communication between cops and landlords is key.

"It's not just us dealing with the problem. We have partners that are assisting us," said Walla Walla Police Officer Tim Bennett.

Some complexes saw a drop in calls to police by half. Officers went from serving 200 properties. Now, to over two thousand. Police are working to respond well to these communities, even since a handful of positions were cut a couple years back.

"We're still trying to do the best we can we our limited resources," said Officer Bennett.

And a recent uptick in calls is taking their attention.People ask for help from police more than 20,000 times a year in Walla Walla. Officials attribute the rise to a poor economy.

But they also think letting landlords know when police have been called to their property has helped. They can resolve conflicts faster when they know about it. So that landlords and tenants like Judith can rest easy.

Last time we reported, almost 800 complexes had joined Kennewick's crime-free program. All three cities are now partnering together to fight apartment crime.