MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Drugs seem to be the root of the problem in a recent rash of violent crimes at apartment complexes near Middle Tennessee State University, according to the city’s mayor.
None of the acts have been random, but the city is continuing its efforts to combat crime by meeting with apartment managers and MTSU officials to come up with a safety strategy.
Crime has been spiraling out of control–murders, shootings and other criminal activities–in relatively a short period of time at apartment complexes near campus.
Thursday morning, city leaders, police and MTSU officials put their heads together in a private meeting, trying to map out a plan to curb the crime.
“We brought a lot of the MTSU administration in to talk about what we are going to work on moving forward with some of our student complexes and some of the isolated crimes that we’ve seen,” said Mayor Shane McFarland.
The underlying goal is to keep students and residents safe.
“When you look at the surrounding communities that we have, I feel 100 percent in saying Murfreesboro is a safe community,” McFarland said.
After that meeting, it was the apartment owners and managers turn to hear what the city has planned.
City leaders are hoping to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding between the Murfreesboro and MTSU police department.
Here’s what this means. MTSU will have broader patrol beyond the campus.
The city is working to create a credentialing system for the complexes, like third-party security, visitor registration, monitored parking, and gated access, as well as develop a webpage dedicated to online crime data.
“A lot of these complexes are owned by out-of-state companies and we have by publishing the data, some of the crime data and really getting the word out on some of these complexes, we have had significant outreach from those owners coming in wanting to be part of the solution than part of the problem,” the mayor said.
Even though MTSU can’t control what goes on off campus, President Dr. Sidney McPhee said students always come first.
“We are not making a distinction between on and off campus,” McPhee said. “We are responsible for students that come to our community. These issues have not occurred on our campus, but it is affecting the areas around out campus.”
School officials said even though there has been a recent rash of crime at off-campus apartments, where mostly students live, that’s not deterring new students from choosing MTSU for their education.
“We are attracting very good students,” McPhee said. “We have one of the highest admission standards that public institution in the state of Tennessee; and we’re attracting high ability students. So, fortunately we have seen any indications that family members or students are looking at this as a negative for our university.”
McPhee said there are no plans for more on-campus student housing.
“Our focus is on educating, providing the resources to educate our students, and in partnership with these private enterprises we think we can address that issue without the university getting into the housing business,” he said.
The city and MTSU are hoping to have the MOU completed and ready for signatures by July 1.