Community Turns Away From Drugs and Violence

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

Last December, we told you about a Todd County community that was turning the corner from drugs and violence to a safer environment.

It used to be so bad for the people of the Royal Arms Apartments, the police were called there almost every night.

Now they're looking ahead and growing more than just a stronger community.

This may look like just a regular garden, but it means so much more to the people at the Royal Arms Apartment Complex.

For them, it's a symbol of the power of community.

"It's brought us closer together. Those that didn't know each other before the garden and such has brought us closer. We call ourselves the Royal Arms family now," said Wanda Higgins, a Royal Arms resident.

She said the closeness that exists now was hard to find a year ago.

At Royal Arms this time last year, if residents and police were outside together, the reason wouldn't have been positive.

"Over two years ago, we were probably getting called out here six to seven times a night on weekends. Now we probably get a couple of calls the whole weekend," Elkton Police Chief Bruce Marklin assured.

The change can be contributed to the community empowerment program that was started at Royal Arms.

Community members say they learned to stop being victims and change the culture of their apartment complex.

"If somebody comes in that they don't want here, they're really close with the police officers now so they'll personally call the police themselves and tell them what's going on. They're pushing crime out," explained Amanda Francis, Todd Co. EFNP Asst.

Another way they're turning the tables on their old existence is with projects like the community's garden that allowed people to come together as one.

"Today we've had an abundance of vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and green peppers," Higgins said.

The people at Royal Arms are starting to see the fruits of their growing "family," much like the growing fruits in their community garden.

The residents of the Royal Arms Apartments are still working to keep crime away.

They have monthly informational meetings, as well as regular patrols to keep drug dealers and criminals out of their community.

They've also planned more projects for their neighborhood so they can all stay connected.

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