NORTHWOOD, Iowa – Last year at this time in north Iowa, a local town was seeing a string of violent stabbings. Many residents in Northwood were pointing the finger at a low-income housing unit. They said, it seemed to be a common denominator in the crimes.
June 5th of 2013, a stabbing outside of the Schoolside Apartments left two people hurt.
Just two months later, August 5th of 2013, another stabbing; this one fatal. The accused in this crime was staying at the Schoolside Apartments.
“It’s really quiet as far as any of the trouble we had going on before,” explains Deb Bullerman. Bullerman is the executive director of the North Iowa Regional Housing Authority (NIRHA) which runs the Schoolside Apartments.
She was well aware of the public’s concern over what seemed to be a connection between the apartments and the crimes.
In the year since these tragic stabbings, Bullerman says they’ve really cracked down on their residents.
“The people that are in there seem to be more conscientious and aware that we mean business, and that we are enforcing the lease,” she says.
One of the major issues they were experiencing, was people staying at the apartments who weren’t registered with the NIRHA, therefore didn’t go through a background check
Bullerman says many of the residents who lived in the apartments last year, have since moved away.
“We’ve had quite a turnover,so it’s a new body andthey’re getting used to each other. It doesn’t come without problems, but certainly not to the degree that we were experiencing,” she adds.
Sheriff Jay Langenbau says on the crime front, things have really slowed down. But that doesn’t mean residents aren’t still a little on edge after last summer.
“It was just a year ago. Come back in about five years and people are going to think about it as, “oh 2013 was a crazy year, a busy year,” But today, it’s still pretty fresh,” explains Langenbau.
He says one of the reasons things have calmed down, is law enforcement has made an effort to get to know new residents of Northwood, many of whom are from larger cities where crime is handled a bit differently.
“If you cause a disturbance, or do something small such as an assault, push somebody, you could go to jail. What they were used to in different places where they used to live is, that those are just a minor things, cops aren’t going to do anything about it.”
Northwood residents we’ve talked to say, they’re relieved things are seemingly back to normal in their small town.
It could be, that folks just took a little time to get to know their neighbors.
“They move here and they need to get to know us, we need to get to know them,” adds Sheriff Langenbau.