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September 10, 2008 > Fremont to hold Bay Area Crime Free Conference

Fremont to hold Bay Area Crime Free Conference

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Fremont Police Department is making an effort to bring the Bay Area up to speed with the methods of crime prevention; only a year into its pursuit of this goal, the numbers show they are succeeding.

Founded in Mesa, Ariz., in January, 1992, by the Mesa Police Department, the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program (CFMH) began an effort to rid rental-housing communities of crime, drugs and gangs. It was created as a new method of crime prevention when other tactics, including "Block Watch," weren't successful.

What began in one state spread to nearly 2,000 cities in 44 states. Soon CFMH could be found in five Canadian provinces, Mexico, England, Finland, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Puerto Rico.

The program has three phases: Phase I is an eight-hour management training course taught by the police; Phase II is a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) survey administered by the police; and Phase III is community awareness training, held as a social event, where management of the rental-housing property and police teach crime prevention to the residents. There is no charge for the three phases.

Once all three phases have been successfully completed, a gold certificate is issued and with it, the right the post a CFMH program sign, as well as advertising membership within the CFMH program in the media. The certificate expires each year unless renewed by holding another community awareness training social event.

Crime Free has established programs beyond Multi-Housing. Programs for mobile housing, hotel and motel, RV parks, lifestyles, business, self storage and rental housing are also available.

Fremont Police Department (FPD) adopted Crime Free Multi-Housing a year ago. After the department was well versed in Crime Free, they hosted its first training session on April 16. Sixteen housing communities went to the training; 25 people were involved. On July 16, FPD held its second training. Forty people were present for this training. Currently FPD is lightly staffed and unable to conduct the number of Crime Free programs necessary to blanket the city since a full-time officer is needed to implement each one.

Even with the handicap of limited staffing, according to CFMH program coordinator, Officer Robyn Berlin, a total of 46 communities are in some phase of the program. "Three communities are fully certified," said Berlin. "Three more have just one more phase to completion." Even in a short period of time, Berlin is already seeing the benefits of fully certified communities. She notes, "There has been a reduction of complaints by 43 percent."

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, Bay Area communities will discuss and celebrate the successes of Crime Free at the first Bay Area Crime Free Conference at Washington Hospital West in Fremont. This free-of-charge event will include Crime Free Executive Director Tim Zehring. A complimentary breakfast will be provided by Panera Bread and lunch by Outback Steakhouse. Although the event is free, it is limited to 150 people.

For more information about Crime Free, visit www.crime-free-association.org. To inquire about attending the conference on October 7, contact Officer Robyn Berlin at rberlin@ci.fremont.ca.us or (510) 790-6908.

Crime Free Conference
Tuesday, Oct. 7
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Washington Hospital West
2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont
(510) 790-6908
www.crime-free-association.org
rberlin@ci.fremont.ca.us

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