Local retiree Glenda Pate lives alone with her dog, Brodie, whom she often relies on to alert her to possible danger.
Pate lives in a HUD-subsidized apartment complex for retirees, Autumn Heights, and has recently become concerned with security. During a series of events in late January, she was spurred to action.
On Jan. 22, Pate – alerted to the window by her canine companion – watched as Tahlequah police officers responded to a call about a disturbance in the complex.
“I couldn’t hear the conversation, but I could see [the police] were talking to both [the suspect] and my neighbor to the left. Obviously, there were conflicting stories. I saw, what appeared to be, some kind of club on the ground. Police were responding to a 911 call reporting [a person wielding] a machete.”
Pate watched as the police removed the handcuffs from the alleged suspect, allowing him to go free. Less than 15 minutes later, Pate’s dog barked again, and she returned to the window to see what was happening.
“I saw [the man] return and dump the bleeding carcass of an animal in my neighbor’s yard,” said Pate. “This time, I made the 911 call.”
After reflecting on the incident, Pate and several of her neighbors banded together to approach management and the local authorities about safety issues in their neighborhood. According to Pate, a security light near the apartments has been burned out throughout her tenancy, and she’s also concerned about unauthorized tenants who have a history of arrests becoming a safety issue.
“I bought ink for my printer, began collating facts, including dates when I took copies of the Tahlequah Daily Press stories and Daily Log, the date and copy of the letter I wrote and personally delivered to management, co-signed by a number of fellow residents,” said Pate. “I spoke at length with a kind young woman working for Adult Protective Services, who took names and apartment numbers.”
Pate and some fellow residents met with TPD officer Reed Felts, and were pleased with the response.
“He listened, gave us valuable information and offered sound advice,” said Pate. “We listened, were grateful and felt more than a bit relieved.”
According to Brad Robertson, public information officer for TDP, the department has stepped up patrols to reduce crime in that area.
“Officers Reed Felts, Jake Keys and Sgt. Jason Girdner of the ‘Baker’ shift met recently with residents in the Autumn Heights area,” said Robertson in a written statement. “This area has been plagued with prowlers and suspicious activity for the past few months. All of the officers do a great job, but we always like to hear positive comments from the public.”
Pate also visited with Margaret Nofire, management agent for Paradigm Management Co. in Tulsa, a private company that leases the property from the Cherokee Nation Housing Authority.
“After she received a call from our [local manager], Ms. Nofire and I had a lengthy conversation,” said Pate. “The conclusion was a promise to sit down with our manager discuss possible ways to increase security on the property.”
Nofire said after visiting the property and talking with the residents, security issues have been addressed since her first conversation with Pate on Jan. 24.
“We’re having the police do more drive-bys and personnel watch the premises,” said Nofire. “The maintenance personnel have hired a contractor to take care of the light. They needed to order a replacement bulb Any time [residents] have concerns or issues they feel need our attention, we welcome the contact.”
Pate sent a petition to Nofire, specifically asking that the unauthorized occupants be addressed.
“Failure to adequately address unauthorized tenancy, a clear violation of HUD policy, has resulted in an exponential growth of loud, disturbing and often dangerous behavior [from certain people] and those with whom they associate,” states the petition. “And as they make ‘friends’ among mentally-impaired residents of this complex, so they acquire new sources of shelter.”
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