Criminal trespassing bill aimed at apartment complexes

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - A bill aimed at keeping people from trespassing at apartment complexes is making its way through the Tennessee House and Senate.

People living in many apartment complexes said their main complaint is people who do not live in the complex come over and cause problems.

"It is the biggest problem. It is the complaint that we hear the most," Janine Heiner Buchanan, Safeways Inc., said.

Safeways' goal is to increase apartment safety.

"A really large proportion of the offenses committed on the apartment properties are committed by people that have no business being on the property in the first place," Buchanan said.

Buchanan took her concerns and took action. She helped former Memphis City Councilman and current state Senator Lee Harris draft legislation to respond to the problem.

"Apartment complexes in most respects are considered public property," Harris said.

Under the new proposal, apartments would be considered private property and you could be charged with trespassing if you don't live there.

"We're not talking about tenants, we're talking about the property managers. We're not talking about the owner, we're talking about people who are trespassing, people who are not supposed to be there," Harris said.

Harris even pointed to a letter from the Memphis Firefighter Association concerned about large crowds at apartments that can intimidate and threaten first responders.

"Firefighters will have over 100 people around them---trying to perform life saving skills--at one time from time to time," Harris said.

Buchanan said the proposal is needed in Memphis now.

"Enforcing our criminal trespassing laws is one of the most important things we can do to prevent crime on apartment properties," Buchanan said.

The bill passed a senate committee. It's expected to make it to the floor this week.

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