'Legends' Apartment Complex In Cape Girardeau Holds Forum, Addresses Crime Concerns
Nearly two weeks after a shooting incident at the Legends apartment complex, management held an open forum to address residents’ safety concerns on Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. in the Legends Clubhouse.
At the meeting, residents and residents’ parents voiced their concerns regarding the complex’s recent safety measures, tenant screening processes, and communication from management.
Cape Girardeau police officers and new Legends managers were present at the meeting to answer questions.
Corp. Richard Couch of the Cape Girardeau Police Department (PD) said they are still investigating the Jan. 18 shooting incident at Legends, in which one man was injured in a physical altercation with a man carrying a rifle.
“We couldn’t find the guy with the gun. No one told us where he went to, other than [telling us] he went into the building,” Couch said. “He went into the building, out of camera range, and he vanished. We have information preliminarily that this was a drug deal gone bad.”
Cape PD has patrolled the Legends property since the incident, but will stop patrolling the property after Jan. 31 as the private security company, 5th Meridian Group, takes over. The security company will have an armed officer on the property every night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
5th Meridian Group CEO Michael Allen said they will not patrol during the day because Legends management believes “the majority of the problems are occurring at night.” A DATE statement from Cape PD Sgt. Joey Hann states the Jan. 18 incident occurred around 2 p.m.
To deter crime during the day, Legends management said they plan to have staff present on-site, including their new general manager, Gary Conner, hired Jan. 25. Conner is currently living on Legends property and plans to remain on the property. Conner said the previous Legends management is still with the company, but in “lesser roles.”
As for the Cape PD, Couch said in the past he has “dealt with a different property manager about every six months” at Legends, which may have hurt communication between police and management. Now, Couch thinks the property has solid management that is taking action.
A Legends resident at the forum, who wished to remain anonymous, said they think hiring a security guard is a great idea, but don’t think it is enough.
“[I’m concerned] about the fact that there are no cameras except for the main areas and around the main building,” the resident said.
At the forum, multiple residents asked about the security cameras and the frequently-broken front gates. Conner said the gates break from cars bumping into them, but management has extra belts in storage to fix the gates.
As for cameras, Conner said they have a camera bank, but there are not cameras everywhere, and they do not “cover every single inch.” Conner said he thinks cameras and gates create a “false sense of security.”
“What makes [a complex] really secure is having a good community of people who talk and tell each other what is going on,” Conner said.
Evictions and screenings
Conner said the people involved in the recent incidents have been evicted, and their belongings are out of the apartments. Management said approximately 10 people have been evicted.
Although evictions are typically a 30-day process, Conner said there are protocols for emergency evictions. Legends management said they have a no-tolerance policy for drugs and weapons, so if tenants are caught with either, they will be evicted.
Couch said Legends management is currently taking the Cape PD’s program to become a crime-free, multi-housing unit. In a previous Arrow article, Sgt. Joey Hann of the Cape PD stated it would be wise to ask landlords if they are certified members of the program before signing a lease.
During the program, Cape PD offers guidance to multi-housing unit managers on strict crime resistance practices. Couch said screening tenants is one of the biggest talking points, and complexes “can’t screen [tenants] enough.”
Legends management said everyone is screened before they are allowed to live at the complex, but they are not screened continually, since there are 591 residents.
However, if management is notified of a felony taking place after admission to the apartments, then they are able to take action. No one with a felony is permitted to live at the apartments.
Multiple residents said at the forum they have contacted management in the past but did not receive prompt or helpful responses.
“I’ve called multiple times, and I have not been called back. [I’ve called] about trivial things and about more serious things,” a resident said.
Legends has an off-hour answering service, but residents said when they called, many were sent to a voicemail box.
Management said they paid for the off-hours answering service and was surprised to hear of the difficulties. They stressed residents should communicate with management when issues arise by calling Legends or Conner who provided his cell number.
Couch said based on the calls for service to the Cape PD since the Jan. 18 incident, he thinks Legends “is trending in the right direction.”
Couch said the Cape PD will put together a document with websites and contact numbers to help residents know who to call when a situation arises.
At the end of the meeting, some residents said they did not feel like their questions were answered.
This story was originally published by the Southeast Arrow, who is a contributing partner with KRCU Public Radio.