Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Retreat declares high crime rate report false


The staff of The Retreat is seeking to set the record straight after a recent article detailed crime statistics released by the Student Housing Task Force that pointed to a high amount of crime at the off-campus student apartment community.

The Retreat, a gated community off Jack Warner Parkway, was said to have the most crimes reported out of the eight complexes examined by the task force: 464 in total for the 1,300-bed community. The directors of the community said in reality they had less than half of that number when the call log of 464 incidents was reviewed with the Tuscaloosa Police Department. It was found that at least 226, or 49 percent, of the incidents were not actually crimes.

James B. Whitley, vice president and chief operating officer of Landmark Properties and the owner and operator of The Retreat, said the story put unwarranted fear in students and that The Retreat actually has a low rate of crime.

“About 50 percent of those incidents were not crimes at all,” Whitley said. “They listed things like dogs barking, fire alarms going off because students were cooking, lockouts, noise violations, parking issues and traffic stops outside of the community where The Retreat was identified as the location marker on the report.”

Whitley said Landmark Properties understands students can be an easy target for crime and that The Retreat has three resident police officers who patrol the property, security gates, three police cars parked regularly and 24/7 security coverage around the community to ensure students’ safety.

Elizabeth Manning, a first-year graduate student in the community journalism program, has lived in The Retreat for three years. She said even though the community is advertised as gated, the security gates are open most of the time.

“It’s kind of a joke in The Retreat – for people who live here,” Manning said. “They say all of [these security features are being added], but then they don’t really do anything about it to make us feel like they’re doing anything.”

Whitley said concerned residents can research the facts themselves.

“Students and parents should go directly to the police department and ask to review the report. It is all public record,” Whitley said. “We want to encourage parents and students to access the facts, and they can do that by speaking with The Retreat property manager or with the police department directly.”

Keli Middleton, property manager at The Retreat, said the apartment complex implements a very high level of security because safety is its main concern for parents and students.

“We definitely don’t want misleading information getting out for students and parents to read,” Middleton said. “Our residents say they feel comfortable and safe living here, and that’s the main message we want to get out.”

Manning said she has never felt threatened but must take extra precautions because of the neighborhood’s location.

“You kind have to be a little bit safer, because [the nearby neighborhoods are] where crime is going to happen, and I just don’t really feel like The Retreat has done a lot to make us feel safer about that,” Manning said.

Mary Kathryn Doggette, a resident employee at The Retreat, said she has lived there for four years and hasn’t had any problem with crime.

“I’ve felt completely safe living here,” Doggette said. “In the first two years, I lived next door to three members of the Tuscaloosa Police [Department]. I’ve never needed their assistance, but it’s nice to know they are there.”

Doggette said The Retreat also has security guards at the gates and around the property on the weekends. She said she was not aware of the statistics that came out but that The Retreat has become her “home away from home” since she moved out of the on-campus dorms in 2009.

While The Retreat should maintain a safe environment for students, Manning said students should also take precautions to lock their houses and keep their valuables safe.

“I think the students could be a lot more careful. We don’t think about the fact that you can be an easy target,” Manning said.


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