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For peace, more police

Gunshots echo at night like a morbid lullaby.

Car thieves add the tinkling of shattered glass falling on concrete in the dark.

People fight. Drug deals go down.

These have been routine sights and sounds in and around Carlisle Lakes apartments, near the University of South Florida.

But in the past two months, its courtyards, parking lots and stairwells have seemed less restless. A new security company is patrolling, and sheriff's deputies are pinpointing troublesome tenants in hopes of getting them evicted.

Still, residents fear that the extra policing is taking their complex from one extreme to another, from a hotbed of crime to a police state.

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No one - tenants, deputies, management - denies that Carlisle Lakes is troubled. With rents as low as $279, many live here because they can't afford better.

"There's always something going on around here," said Noel Ellis, 17.

Ellis thought moving from Chicago to live with an uncle at Carlisle Lakes was a positive step. He's changed his mind. A few weeks ago, five guys ambushed him near his front door.

"I don't feel safe here, not at all."

Deputies attribute more than 1,000 calls for service between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 to Carlisle Lakes, a 321-unit complex west of University Mall.

"We're literally there two or three times a day," said Deputy Jason Napoli of the sheriff's crime prevention bureau.

Since September, deputies have targeted it and three nearby complexes in an effort to reduce crime. (See map.)

Deputies are helping apartment managers pinpoint which tenants are being arrested, in order to evict them.

The 1,000 calls include complaints and emergency calls from within Carlisle Lakes - and ones that, while outside the complex's physical address, can still be linked to it, sheriff's officials said.

They include 303 disturbances, 188 drug violations, 141 911 emergency calls, 96 reports of domestic violence, 93 assaults and batteries, 43 fights, 41 stolen vehicles, 10 reports of child abuse, five shootings, four stabbings, and one murder.

The Carlisle Development Group, which manages the complex, said the number of calls is much lower.

Reports of violent crimes listed with Carlisle Lakes addresses total about 135, "which is still high, but it's not 1,000," said the company's regional director, Enid Berrios.

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The company manages 43 affordable housing complexes, from Pensacola to Key West.

But the crime concerns at Carlisle Lakes are specific to that property, Berrios said.

"It's because we're in a tough area," he said.

Nicknamed Suitcase City because of the transient nature of its residents, the university area has been known for crime.

In a way, Carlisle Lakes is a microcosm of its surroundings. Offering low-income housing, it receives federal and state money. That requires strict renting policies. Felons can't rent there, and tenants can be evicted if they get arrested.

But "there are still people, nontenants, who come on property and cause problems," Berrios said.

Carlisle Lakes' policies on renters are common throughout the university area, where most complexes operate using government money.

Deputies are renewing their efforts to report troublesome tenants to apartment managers. Ultimately, though, it's up to management to evict.

So far, three of the four complexes that deputies are targeting are making changes, including Carlisle Lakes, said Deputy Chad Frisco of the crime prevention department.

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Kenya Jarvon Octavean Bellamy, 25, was shot and killed at Carlisle Lakes on Aug. 21.

Although not a resident, he had lived in the complex during his teens. Even seven years ago, living there was hard, said his mother, Regina Bellamy, 45.

"People getting shot up, burned up. I had my child coming home telling me all of this," she said.

She moved her family to Fort Myers. But her son moved back to Tampa. Police said he was at Carlisle Lakes buying drugs from two men who have been accused of killing him.

As soon as their trial ends, Regina Bellamy plans to sue the apartment complex. Maybe, she said, the two men wouldn't have been able to sit in a car, with a gun, waiting for her son to arrive "if those security guards would've been on the job."

Carlisle Lakes was looking to change its security company at least two months before Kenya Bellamy's death, Berrios said.

Meeting with landlords of surrounding complexes, Berrios learned that his was the only one that didn't employ Critical Intervention Services for security.

"We were the lone star in the middle" with Amber Security, Berrios said.

People could commit a crime at Carlisle Lakes and jump the fence to the next property, out of Amber's jurisdiction.

Specializing in tough properties, Critical Intervention Services does security for about 50 communities in the university area, said K.C. Poulin, the company's chief executive officer.

On Aug. 31, the company took over security at Carlisle Lakes. At least two of its officers patrol there in marked cars daily.

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Most of the security officers' time is spent making sure that people on the property actually live there, in hopes of reducing drug deals and fights.

"They did get rid of a lot of undesirables," said Frederick Deere, 49, a seven-year Carlisle Lakes tenant.

But he didn't like it when they stopped him from working on his car in the parking lot.

"I know I'm breaking the rules," he said, "but the rules take a little getting used to."

A retired Marine on disability, Deere said the strict enforcement "makes it look like they're trying to reinstitute Jim Crow or a martial law type of thing ... How far will it go?"

Lt. Hector Rodriguez of Critical Intervention Services, who patrols Carlisle Lakes, asked a different question: "What does a criminal look like?"

"I had somebody tell me the other day, 'You aren't stopping the right people.' Well, explain to me what a criminal looks like," Rodriguez said. "No one knows," so zero tolerance is necessary.

Still, two-year tenant Robert Fields, an out-of-work maintenance man, feels as if he's under "public house arrest."

"If we're not doing anything and not bothering people, we should be able to stand out here," said Fields, 36.

"They show me no respect as a grown man," Fields said while standing outside smoking a cigarette, shirtless, a "Psycho" tattoo emblazoned his shoulder.

But Fields, as well as Ellis, admitted that Critical Intervention Services has "cleaned up" the complex.

"You don't see the violent stuff like you used to," Ellis said.

"But," Fields said, "it's basically switching one problem for another."

"Yeah, I don't feel safe at all, not even with them walking around," Ellis said.

"A lot of people have very short tempers around here, and they're going to get tired of getting told what to do. I don't think the quiet's going to keep for very long."

Amber Mobley can be reached at (813) 269-5311 or amobley@sptimes.com.

FAST FACTS

Carlisle Lakes I

Rent rates: $432 for a one-bedroom, $504 for a two-bedroom, $708 for a three-bedroom, $750 for a four-bedroom

Total units: 172

Units rented at a reduced rate: 27

Reduced rates: $279 for a one-bedroom, $294 for a two-bedroom, $354 for a three-bedroom

Carlisle Lakes II (formerly Sherwood Lakes)

Rent rate: $599 (all are two-bedroom)

Total units: 149

Units rented at a reduced rate: 21

Reduced rate: $285

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