MTSU, Murfreesboro consider broader reach of campus police

MTSU Middle Tennessee State University
(Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Residents in Murfreesboro could soon see Middle Tennessee State University police patrolling more than just on campus.

This comes on the heels of an increase in violence at apartment complexes near the university.

MTSU is working on an agreement with police in hopes to combat crime at those complexes where violence is on the rise.

Years ago, you would only find students leasing at several apartment complexes near MTSU’s campus, but that demographic is slowly changing.

“We’re trying to work with MPD to deal with any issues that come up because of a wide variety of people that live in and amongst the complexes around MTSU,” said MTSU police chief Buddy Peaster.

The Top 10 apartment with the most violence like homicides, assaults, shots fired calls are close to MTSU.

A common thread, many non-students committing crime.

“Our concern for the safety of students is always paramount at the same time we want safety and security for all citizens, for all community members, on and off campus.”

“In fact, here’s one of our cars right now,” Peaster said while giving News 2 a tour around campus.

MTSU police already patrol streets surrounding campus, and that could soon be expanded to other streets.

Peaster knows his department can’t control what happens off campus, but is hoping to help get a handle on violence that’s taken place.

“Our departments alone can’t solve all the problems, all the issues, whether they are social or criminal,” Peaster said.

The university is working with the city, Murfreesboro police and apartment complexes hoping to combat crime.

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They hope to be able to patrol the parking lots and assist police when needed.

“To help with any manpower deficiencies that can sometime show up, and to be able to put our heads together and to work towards some viable solutions to some of the problems that we face,” the chief said.

Taylor Ferguson lives at Scarlett Commons Apartments on campus.

She heard about violence at apartment units near campus and wanted no part of it.

“After reading and hearing about some of my friends that do live off campus in the off campus student housing; I just feel like I would be 1,000 times safer if I stay here compared to off-campus housing,” Ferguson said.

Many of the off-campus apartment complexes cater to students, they lease rooms rather than the entire apartment; students do share a common area.

Campus police said many non-students are now leasing space at these apartment complexes.

“That by itself is not evil or bad, but it just means that a lot of people that come to school here at MTSU that’s looking for a student only type of residence only have the possibility of really being able to live in an on campus resident if they want to live with other students,” Peaster said.

Ferguson feels more needs to be done to keep students safe off-campus.

“I really do think they need to have more security measures in place like they do here at MTSU,” Ferguson said.

The city has put the apartment complexes on notice that they will be held accountable for what happens on their property.

Many of the complexes have started to make changes. One has hired off-duty officers and security guards to check the ID’s of everyone who enters.

MTSU officials plan to meet with the city, apartment owners and managers sometime this week.