Off-campus apartments bump up security along 48th Ave.

Courtesy Photo /
A security patrol at off campus housing

Courtesy Photo / A security patrol at off campus housing

Chelsea Lane

When Grand Valley State University students are ready to move off-campus, chances are one of the first places they look is right along 48th Ave. But no matter which apartment complex they choose to call home on this stretch of road, Absolute Security will be there.

Although the properties compete for tenants, the 48th Ave. apartments joined together to hire a joint security force. The partnership began in 2007 when Meadows Crossing first hired Absolute Security. Recognizing an opportunity to share resources and cut costs, the other apartment complexes along 48th Ave., including Copper Beech, Country Place, Hillcrest and 48 West, hired Absolute as well and agreed to split security costs amongst the properties. Mystic Woods also employs Absolute Security on a seasonal basis.

Each month, the partnership members meet up to discuss the latest trends and issues they are encountering at the apartments.

The partnership is cheaper than if each complex hired its own security firm and the enforcement also saves the apartments money on litter clean-up and damage repair fees. But perhaps most importantly to the property managers, on-site security lets the apartments keep residential parties from escalating to unsafe and destructive levels.

“We’re not against partying, but what we’re trying to do is make partying safer,” said Meadows Crossing managing partner Glenn Turek. “No one wants to go to a party and get hurt. Kids are going to party; it’s part of the reason they go to school. But it’s about making the parties safer.”

Typically, Absolute Security will only issue fines if parties have gotten rowdy or too large. The apartments have agreed to a general limit of 12 to 16 guests per party.

“All the things you want to do, you can still do, just on a more managed level,” said Absolute Security officer Brian Brookman.

Absolute Security captain and company manager Joshua Grant said there has been a significant decline in the number of incidents security responds to since the partnership first began.

“We were averaging 20- to 30-person-plus parties,” he said of his initial work load. “We would spend literally all night trying to break them up ourselves … Every year that’s gone by, there’s been a major reduction. Those bad students who just wanna party, they don’t stay here. Now we write maybe an average of one (fine) ticket per weekend.”

Campus West office manager Peter Sheldon agreed the number of parties and negative incidents on 48th Ave. have gone down since Absolute Security was hired.

“The operation runs really, really well,” he said. “Since Absolute got involved, they’re a great diffuser… We’ve seen a significant downward effect on any problems we were having.”

Additionally, utilizing Absolute Security allows apartment managers to maintain order at their properties without having to get the police involved as often. Absolute Security does not enforce criminal law. Instead, security personnel issue fines for lease violations that students pay to their residence for any damages or disturbances they may have caused.

“If they’re making a problem at 48 West but they live at Hillcrest, then they have to pay the fine to Hillcrest,” Brookman explained.

Absolute Security also notifies specific apartments when they issue a fine to one of their tenants.

“We’re setting fines and working our way up to eviction from there,” said 48 West Manager Jessica Kennedy. “It’s a ‘three strikes, you’re out’-type system.”

However, security will still contact police if a confrontation escalates or if they are in need of immediate assistance. Absolute personnel can also refer specific cases to the Sheriff’s Office for further investigation and possible criminal charges.

Some Absolute Security workers are also armed in case of an emergency. The option to carry a weapon was made available to security officers as a direct response to incidents like the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

Absolute and the Ottaway County Sheriff also consult with the English Language Services Center on 48th Ave. to ensure that GVSU’s international students also feel secure and that any potential cultural differences are taken into account.

“Many cities in the US have a reputation for being dangerous, and those places won’t attract international students,” said ELS director Nicholas Ghiglia. “Our students and many other students appreciate that Grand Valley and this area is safe.”

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