Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
In an effort to make affordable housing neighborhoods safer, stronger and remain committed to strengthening all of Meridian’s public housing communities, the Meridian Housing Authority and the city of Meridian Police Department have expanded their "Officer Next Door" program to the Eastern Gardens community. National statistics show that public safety is enhanced tremendously when police officers live within the neighborhood, according to a press release from MHA.
On October 16, MHA, along with MPD implemented the HUD approved “Officer Next Door” program to assist in ensuring a crime-free community in the Western Gardens neighborhood. The program expanded to include the Eastern Gardens community earlier this week.
Over the past six months, both the Eastern and Western Garden’s public housing communities have been challenged with increased criminal incidents and growing signs of gang-related activity. In an effort to reverse this upward surge, MHA will provide an apartment at each location to full-time sworn Meridian police officers at no cost to the officers.
The apartments must be used as the officer’s primary source of residency during the 12-month leasing period with MHA. While participating in the “Officer Next Door” program, the participants will maintain a high visibility level, participate in resident association meetings, patrol the property periodically and utilize other community policing measures authorized by Meridian Police Chief James Lee.
Other collaborative efforts between MHA and the MPD include the opening of the East End Choice Neighborhood Police sub-station and the implementation of the MHA-MPD police community policing liaison program.