The Investigators

Mar 25, 2014 1:06 AM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham

N4T Investigators: Tucson Police 'Red Tag' three off-campus apartments

It's no secret that Tucson has seen a boom in off-campus student housing in recent years But, what happens when the party years of college overflow into the surrounding neighborhoods?

Tucson got its first taste of some of the issues of off-campus housing a few years ago with mini-dorms. Those are places where as many as half-a-dozen people could live.

Now, in areas from Tucson's west side, to Downtown, and right next to campus, large complexes are springing up, bringing with them the potential for a whole new set of problems.

As the University of Arizona continues to grow in the number of students who attend, so too does the need for all those Wildcats to live. With a finite amount of residence halls on campus, the only logical place for students to live are in residential areas off-campus.

As the News 4 Tucson Investigators discovered, issues at some of that off-campus student housing ends up costing Tucson taxpayers in the form of police response.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators took a close look at some of those cases in which TPD responded to a student housing complex on Tyndall just south of Speedway. Among the calls were three separate cases late last year in which apartments were red-tagged. Police issue those Red Tags when the noise level is too loud and neighbors complain

Dana Robbins Murray with Residence Life at the University of Arizona tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, her department works to make students aware of their responsibilities living off-campus. Residence Life even publishes a guide which details everything from renter's insurance, to safety, and even those Red Tags.

"We have a partnership with the Tucson Police Department, and when any of our students get red-tagged, our Dean of Students office is notified and our Dean of Students office does an educational program with those students," Robbins-Murray says.

Even though some of these large complexes are just steps from campus, problems that arise there are not dealt with by University of Arizona Police. Instead, it's up to Tucson Police to respond.

"It's not a University Police Department problem, it is a TPD problem from a jurisdictional standpoint, and it's normal they respond to things off-campus, irrespective of if it's student housing," says Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik

Kozachik also tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, keeping the peace between new off-campus development and established neighborhoods is something the city takes seriously.

"It is a concern. And the reason for that is we've got a major Division One institution, sitting smack dab in the middle of multiple well-preserved and historic neighborhoods. The university wants to go like that, out, and grow to 52,000 students in the next five years, and there is a natural tension built in. So, it's obviously a concern, and something we deal with early in the design process," Kozachik says.

And UA officials also tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators, what happens off-campus doesn't necessarily stay off-campus. According to the school's Code of Conduct, students who are cited by TPD can end up being held accountable by the Dean of Students.

"They live off-campus, so we can't control them, but we try to encourage them to be good neighbors. They are part of the Tucson community, and they're representing the University of Arizona," Robbins-Murray says.

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

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