When I was little I never took the stairs. It was too dark. Many of the lights were out and there was no way to see anyone on the stairwell until they were right on top of you. And everyone knew people hung out in the stairwells doing things they didn’t want other people to know about.
I wouldn’t even walk down 1 flight by myself to go through the back door. I always walked all the way around from the front (where the elevator stopped) to the back of the building.
All that being said, you can’t be a police officer in the projects if you’re afraid to be in the stairwells. They were and continue to be dangerous. The police officers who are there are supposed to ensure everyone enters and exits safely.