CMPD, UNCC roll out ‘Niner's Choice' program for student housing

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Starting Monday, police are forcing apartment complexes near University of North Carolina at Charlotte to follow strict security guidelines, or they can't advertise to students.

It's their way of trying to reduce high crime rates where students are living.

The signs are like proud badges apartment complexes in University City are wearing, touting them as a Niner's Choice.

READ MORE: 9 Investigates: UNCC, CMPD work for safer student housing

“I definitely think that having their stamp of approval definitely means a lot,” property manager Kylie Smith said.

Smith has been proactive about portraying a positive image for 49 North Apartments.

In May, bullets were fired at a party there. One person was hurt but survived and police never made any arrests.

“We have that close relationship with CMPD and UNC Charlotte so any tips, advice, anything they feel we need to change, we've been quick to add it in,” Smith said.

University area complexes are investing millions to become green or gold choices in the program Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and UNC Charlotte are heading up.

Green choice requires standard safety features like:

  • locks on windows
  • two locks on sliding glass doors
  • deadbolts on doors
  • exterior lighting

Gold choice means the complex installed things like:                        

  • solid core, self-closing and locking doors
  • a gated complex entry
  • alarm systems in each unit
  • on-site security

There are high stakes if apartment complexes don't participate.

They won't be allowed to advertise on UNC Charlotte's off-campus housing website.

“Everyone deserves a safe environment to live in where their safety won't be compromised or their belongings,” said Lt. Robert Whitley with CMPD University City division.

CMPD launched the initiative after it found 53 percent of its major crimes in the university area happened at student apartment complexes last year. 

From Jan. 1 through July 22, Channel 9 found 112 crimes were reported at about a dozen student apartment complexes, including where Dean White lived at the Flats at Campus Pointe.

“I figured campus housing, it would be safer,” White said.

He moved out the day after he was robbed at gunpoint in February.

He said the complex offered him little protection.

“I don't know why there wasn't a security guard there present. Why there weren't countermeasures placed there,” he said.

He's hopeful the Niner's Choice program will keep students safe. 

“Just giving them a sticker for good effort isn't good enough in my opinion,” White said.

Police said they may not be able to stop all crime, but hopefully, the program will make it rare.

“What's what we would strive for is to have no crime. Is that going to happen? No. Probably not, but what we do want to do is prevent the next crime,” Whitley said.

Apartment complexes do have to pay to be featured on the university's off-campus housing website.

University officials said that money is used to operate the site.