Amid safety concerns, Campus Village to add fence, cameras

Campus Village management and local police are working together to address safety concerns at Campus Village.

The Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, University Police and Michigan State Police began meeting with Campus Village management in 2016 after a shooting left five non-students injured at the apartments, officials say.

Campus Village has made several security updates since the Sept. 11, 2016, shooting, which occurred during a party that more than 1,000 people attended, according to University Police Chief Leo Mioduszewski. One major change has been putting in more outdoor lighting, he said.

“Throughout the years, I know they’ve contracted out the sheriff’s department to have some deputies right there on busy nights,” he said. “They have tried to be as proactive as they can.”

Since the shooting, which Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel has said may have been gang-related, Campus Village has seen numerous other crimes, including at least two sexual assaults, one of which occurred on Saturday, April 6, and involved an SVSU student and another female being assaulted. One male suspect is still in police custody, and three more male suspects were at-large.

Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department police reports obtained by The Valley Vanguard though the Freedom of Information Act show a range of crimes that occurred at Campus Village from August to November 2018.

Crimes reported at Campus Village include:

•Large fights

•Public intoxication

•Public urination

•Sexual assault with penetration

•Minor in possession

•Damage to police property

•Destruction of evidence

•Domestic disputes

•Assault and battery

Saginaw County Under-sheriff Miguel Gomez said the crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Department. University police are deputized, so they can assist the sheriff’s office as needed, he said.

“During regular school days and nights, we have very little interaction with Campus Village residents,” he said. “Our deputies will still drive through there to make sure things are running smoothly, but there’s not a lot of contact with residents.”

Mioduszewski said University Police does not patrol Campus Village regularly but will occasionally have officers stop by Campus Village.

“What we’ve found out, us and the Sheriff’s Department, is if there are a lot of people outside drinking, the chances of something hap
pening increase,” he said. “So, we may, as part of our patrol, go through there just to make sure there’s no large groups of people that are congregating.”

Building a fence

During events where larger crowds are expected at Campus Village, such as Homecoming, Mioduszewski said University Police will coordinate with the Sheriff’s Department and State Police.

Current Campus Village manager Eric Klass, who began in September, said the apartment complex has several security measures in place, including 17 cameras.

“We did have a meeting with the Saginaw Sheriff’s (Department), and they went over a plan with us where they want to have more cameras installed, so we will be adding those as well,” he said.

Klass said they also lock the Davis Road gate after 5 p.m. on weekends and that they have a full-time security company.

“We have four to five guards on site. On weekends, we do up to the six to eight, depending on the weekend and what’s going on,” he said.

Gomez said Campus Village management has expressed concerns about the number of non-resident and non-student individuals coming to Campus Village to party. He said that contributes to the problems the large gatherings cause at Campus Village.

“The problem is, there’s such a large number of them gathered around that we have to intervene, or people will get hurt,” he said. “And people have gotten hurt out there.”

After being called to Campus Village, Gomez’s deputies often have a hard time deciphering who lives at Campus Village or who is a student who was invited, he said. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to decide “who doesn’t belong” at Campus Village, Gomez said.

Mioduszewski has suggested building a fence with one or two entrance-ways to help alleviate the issue.

“If you funnel them in from a point or two, at least you can have security there to monitor if they live here or if they know someone here or (whether) they are just here to cause problems and party,” he said. “Obviously, that’s a very expensive project, though.”

Klass said Campus Village agreed with the suggestion and said he hopes to have a fence up by mid-May. He said the fence will not be
paid for by an increase in rent prices.

“Later in April, early May, we are going to be breaking ground on a fence,” he said. “This was already signed off on three or four weeks ago to put in.”

The gate will be in front of Campus Village and feature a mechanical arm that acts as the entrance and exit for Campus Village, he said. Residents will have access codes, and they will still be allowed to have guests.

“We do have some houses out front, but along Pierce and out to Davis Road, there’s going to be a fence along there,” Klass said. “From Davis down to the Jackson River, a fence is also going to be put in.”

Klass believes the fence will help keep non-residents from entering Campus Village.

“Our security guards do put up a barrier when they come in, so only vehicles with parking passes or guest passes can come into the property, and we do tow,” he said. “I do think that the gate system will help, so that only residents should be getting in before our security gets here. So that should be able to help stop that.”

Various crimes

Mioduszewski and Gomez believe the problems Campus Village has are similar to those of other apartment complexes near universities.

“I was sheriff in Isabella County at CMU for 12 or so years,” Mioduszewski said. “We dealt with a lot of apartment complexes off-university. … There’s not as many crimes here because CMU is larger. … So obviously, we don’t get as many crimes reported here. But the crimes are similar. We still get the large groups where there may be a fight. We see that here.”

Among the reports obtained by The Vanguard is a police report from Aug. 25 that details a simple assault that occurred at Campus Village about 10:39 a.m. According to the report, after a fight had broken out, a male threw a metal Yeti mug at someone else attending a party at the apartments.

The victim suffered a large gash to the lip and loose, hanging teeth, according to the report. The report states the suspect could not be located due to “the large amounts of people” at the apartments.

A report from the next night, Aug. 26, details a third-degree sexual assault involving penetration that occurred about 1 a.m. The victim reported she was having a party at her apartment earlier that night. She said in the report that a male who attended the party had been flirting with her all night and that about 2:30 a.m., she woke up in bed without her clothes on.

The report stated the victim fell back asleep and woke up again about 3:15 a.m. with shorts and a t-shirt on. The victim told police she did not remember having sexual intercourse but felt pain in her vaginal area. She stated she thought she may have been assaulted, so she went to the bathroom and called a friend and the police, according to the report.

When police arrived, a used condom was found on the victim’s floor, and the victim said the male suspect sent her a Facebook message about 4:35 a.m. The message stated, “Okay, so I am so sorry. You don’t really know me. We hooked up tonight. I feel terrible. I’m not like that all, I just went with it.”

The police found the suspect sleeping in his car and intoxicated, and he denied having sex with the victim. The case was still open, pending prosecutor review.

A police report from that same day states police found two minors in possession of marijuana and alcohol about 1:27 a.m. at Campus Village. Police were called to the courtyard, commonly referred to as “The U,” where the 2016 shooting occurred, the report states. The space “appeared full of hundreds of people” upon arrival, the report states.

Police made contact with two minors holding open beers, the report states. One of the suspects had a marijuana bud behind their back and attempted to flee and threw the bud near parked cars during the pursuit, the report states. One suspect and one officer fell during the pursuit. They both had minor injuries from falling on the sidewalk, the report states. The minors’ parents were notified after they were taken into custody.

A police report from Sept. 25 states police were called to Campus Village about 6:44 a.m. regarding a domestic assault. Upon arrival, police discovered a male and female had assaulted each other, and they were both arrested, the report states. The male had locked himself in the female’s bedroom and blocked the door, according to the report; a maintenance worker let police in, and they arrested the male.

The report states the male, who had scratches on his left cheek, left eye and chest, said the female assaulted him. The female had multiple bruises on her body; she said some of those were due to a car accident and that other bruises were the result of an assault that occurred earlier that same day, the report states.

About 1 a.m. on Nov. 18, police were called to Campus Village to investigate a suspicious situation and a possible fight in progress with a firearm. The report states there was a large party of over 100 people, and four suspects believed to be Eastside Blood gang members began flashing guns during a fight.

The report states that several witnesses did not see a gun at the fight. One witness stated a suspect was flashing a gun at a party in his apartment, and he told the suspect to leave, the report states. The witness said he later heard three gunshots, but police did not find any fired cartridge casings or firearms at the scene.

At the scene, police found an intoxicated minor who had been brought to the party by his older sister. The sister was located, and they were taken to their grandmother’s house.

Gomez agreed with Mioduszewski that the most common crimes at Campus Village are the same crimes seen at other apartments near universities. He cited public disorderlies, underaged drinking and fights as some of the most common reasons his deputies are called to Campus Village.

“Offsite housing has less restrictions than on-campus housing,” Gomez said. “When you’re away from your parents, the responsibility is on you. These young people should understand that. They should look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t want to get in trouble tonight, so maybe I should take responsibility.’ Or at least when told to move on by the police, they should move on. I have never seen a situation where officers right from the beginning start enforcing. Normally, we try to warn them.”

Klass said Campus Village also has a war ing system in place for residents.

“When there are these issues, like parties that are out of hand, we take steps to make sure that won’t be happening anymore, whether it be through warnings or fines, just trying to step in before it starts,” he said.

Security reports are turned in every night that a security officer is on duty, and management uses the reports to identify possible issues, Klass said.

Klass said management will then talk to residents who cause issues.

“Once we get those (reports), we have it in our regulations, we start with a written warning,” Klass said. “After that, we go to fines, and the fines increase as they go.”

Klass said repeat offenders may be evicted if their behavior does not stop. “If it is a continuous habit, it is destructive and bothersome to other residents, then we do take more legal steps as needed to get the resident out or do what we need to do to get the behavior to stop,” he said.

‘Cracking down’

Olivia Lipskey, a criminal justice and sociology senior, lived at Campus Village last year. After living on campus this year, she said she would return to Campus Village next year.

“(Campus Village) was good last year,” she said. “I was in a four-bedroom with four bathrooms with some friends. It was spacious, especially compared to (the on-campus University Village). There weren’t any major problems there last year.”

Lipskey said she never felt unsafe at Campus Village, but there were a few situations that made her uncomfortable. She said there was a “large fight” in the parking lot last year. She also said she has seen “some really shady stuff” while visiting friends this year.

“I’ve seen really big fights, I’ve seen security guards banging their batons on peoples’ cars and now with this sexual assault,” she said, referencing the April 6 incident. “It seems like it’s completely different this year. I’m hopeful it won’t be like this next year, but I guess I’ll find out.”

Klass said he “did not have any knowledge” of a security guard banging cars with batons. He also said he had not received complaints from residents about fights.

Lipskey said she was concerned about the crimes she has heard about this year at Campus Village, especially the recent sexual assaults.

“It is concerning, especially with recent events like the sexual assaults, and I know there’s been a lot of fighting and violence,” she said. “I’m not super worried, but I am concerned, especially just about walking back alone. I am nervous about it. I definitely am going to be a lot more cautious about it than I was in previous years.”

Vanessa Swain, a mechanical engineering senior, has lived at Campus Village for the last four years. She said she would be searching for a quieter apartment complex next year. She said she had a hard time getting past managers to respond to complaints about large parties, neighbors smoking and neighbors throwing their couches off a balcony and burning them.

Swain was in her apartment at Campus Village during the 2016 shooting. She said she did not feel unsafe.

“I wasn’t at the party. I knew people who were out partying at Campus Village, so I had them come into my house,” she said. “I basically let whoever come in. That freaked me out a little bit. However, I didn’t put myself in that situation, so it didn’t affect me personally. So that made me a little nervous, but also, you kind of expect that anywhere near any campus. You’re out there partying. You never know what is going to happen.”

Swain believes the new management is improving Campus Village and would recommend it to younger students.

“They’re cracking down on security,” she said. “I think they’re doing the most they can to make it somewhere people want to live.”

Klass also believes Campus Village is making progress with its security. He hopes the fence and extra cameras will help with the issue.

“I believe that we are (making things safer),” he said. “I can’t comment on last year, because I just got here in September. But I believe that with these steps – adding cameras and adding the gate system – will help safety measures going forward.”

Kaitlyn Farley

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