Printer Friendly

NLC will honor ten city innovation winners in Orlando.

During the Congress of Cities, the winners of NLC's 1993 City Innovation Competition will be honored for their programs aimed at new approaches to criminal justice.

Winners were named in categories Awards of Innovation, numbering three, and the seven remaining winners were given the designation of Award of Excellence.

The winners were announced in the October 25 issues of Nation's Cities Weekly. Following are details about the winning programs.

Award of Innovation Anderson, Ind.

The Mayor's Commission on Domestic Violence consists of a group of 50 community volunteers appointed by the mayor to serve as leaders, educators and organizers in a community-wide effort to bring the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of local attention.

Using a broad-based multimedia campaign including billboards, television, radio, pamphlets and news releases, the Community Awareness devision of the Commission has provided the public with valuable information, including the warning signs, available rehabilitation centers and local shelters to victims of domestic violence.

The Education Committee has gone into schools, conducted surveys and taught young people effective ways of approaching nonviolent problem solving. The Justice System Committee, along with pressuring local lawmakers, has also established a program entitled ADAPT (Anderson Domestic Abuse Prevention and Treatment) center which is designed for offenders of domestic violence.

The most remarkable thing about the Anderson Mayor's Commission has been its cost effectiveness. Aside from city funds set aside for its initial creation, this is essentially a self-supporting campaign, supported entirely by fundraising projects and grants organized by the Finance Committee.

The Mayor's Commission on Domestic Violence has demonstrated that a difficult and pervasive social problem such domestic violence can be addressed successfully at the local level.

Award of Innovation Brighton, Colorado

Utilizing the very same "customer service" principles upon which successful businesses are based, the Police Department of Brighton, Colorado responded to substantial community criticism of their organization by rethinking their role as public servants.

This was done not only by physically restructuring the department with the hiring of a new chief and officers with superior interpersonal skills, but also by rewriting many of the procedures and training new and old employees with the idea of service to their customers as the paramount objective.

With the familiar slogan: "the customer is always right" in mind, the mission statement of the Police Department of Brighton was rewritten to include their community commitment to provide "satisfaction guaranteed" law enforcement to their citizens.

Using examples of customer service policy provided by a local utility company along with other successful private sector operations, Brighton officers were continually tested and surveyed for their receptiveness to the new direction being undertaken by the department.

As part of their renewed commitment to customer service, community members receiving police assistance also received thank you notes, surveys and questionnaires from the department to gauge responses to the "new" way of doing business at the police station.

In the five years since its inception, Brighton's customer service program has shown remarkable results, both within the department and throughout the community. A change in attitude, both among the department members and the surrounding community, has brought the "service" aspect back into public service and increased both the efficiency and effectiveness of Brighton's law enforcement efforts.

Award of Excellence Cottae Grove, Minnesota

Cottage Grove, Minnesota "Community Oriented Policing Program" was an effort to unite its Police Department with citizens of the city's Parkside District, an underserved neighborhood experiencing the effects of rapid urbanization, in addressing the serious crime problems in its area.

The Cottage Grove Police Department opted to form a coalition between its officers, Parkside community members, local housing authorities, family crisis centers, and various other local agencies to better serve the needs of Parkside residents.

Resources for addressing the difficult issues faced by the Parkside community were provided by a unique relationship between these agencies, notably the Police Department, the Washington County Family Violence Network and the Washington County Housing and Residential Authority.

One of the first products of the coalition was the creation of the Parkside Resident Council, a body composed of community members which met weekly to discuss local issues. Members of this council received a modest rent reduction as thanks for their renewed sense of ownership in their community.

In its first year in existence, the neighborhood's crime rate dropped 50 percent from the previous year, and residents were instilled with a new sense of ownership in their community and partnership with their police forces.

These results were arrived at with an allocation of only 1.5 full time equivalents of police personnel, saving the taxpayer's money, and allowing the police department to utilize its additional funding towards other proactive programs.

In forging these positive partnerships between government agencies and private citizens, Cottage Grove's philosophy is that contemporary community problems can be better solved, with more efficiency and less cost incurred by working as a team with a group vision.

Award of Excellence Westminster, Calif.

Westminster, California has devised a comprehensive, systematic approach to combatting its community's escalating gang problems with a program known as the Tri-Agency Resource Gang Enforcement Team (T.A.R.G.E.T.).

According to the Westminster Police Department, a great deal of the difficulty in fighting gang activity could be avoided if an efficient, coordinated effort could be devised between government agencies.

Following a great deal of background research at the California State University at Long Beach, the T.A.R.G.E.T. program began by bolstering the city's overworked criminal justice system with an additional County Deputy District Attorney, Investigator and Probation Officer, assigned to dealexclusively with the city's local gang interdiction efforts.

Together with the close cooperation of the Westminster Police Department, this newly hired team created a leakproof justice system that greatly reduced plea bargains and discarded cases which had been characteristic of the city's overworked court.

The T.A.R.G.E.T. program also the adopted a legal technique developed in Los Angeles, which classified gangs a unincorporated associations, giving the District Attorney the right to issue civil restraining orders, thus preventing members from associating with one another.

The result of this integration and cooperation within the criminal justice system has not only made it difficult for gang members to associate, but has yielded stronger cases and more convictions of offenders.

Enhanced cooperation and coordination between agencies has successfully tried and convicted 76 gang members in 62 cases, many of whom were identified as gang leaders and/or recidivists.

The combination of criminal and civil law processes in the form of probationary checks and restraining orders have also proven to be an effective means of controlling gang activity.

Westminster's T.A.R.G.E.T. program successfully demonstratesa legalistic alternative to intensified policing efforts, and has proven to be an effective deterrent to gang related activities.

Award of Innovation Oxnard, California

The Police Department of Oxnard, California has developed an inexpensive crime fighting measure which uses the government access cable channel as a forum for a one-hour weekly program designed to familiarize residents with local police officers, procedures and useful crime prevention techniques.

The program, "Streetbeat", is a virtually cost-free enterprise for the Oxnard Police Department, and its subsequent effectiveness since its inception has led to many advances in its format. Currently, the program format includes a weekly one-hour program hosted by a member of the department, as well as a special 90-minute local segment twice a month highlighting specific neighborhoods.

The program not only informs residents on crime trends in their own neighborhoods, but also offers a live studio phone line which gives residents the opportunity to voice any otherquestions or concerns to local officers.

To further involve the community in its efforts, the Oxnard Police Department regularly sends out flyers and computer generated phone messages to residents to remind them when their neighborhood will be featured on the program.

Not only is the program the most-watched on the government channel, but its results, as documented in the increased incidence of crime reporting and decreased crime statistics, especially in those neighborhoods spotlighted on the 90-minute episodes, maintain that "Streetbeat" has indeed had an impact on the Oxnard community.

Award of Innovation Fairfax County, Va.

The multi-agency Child Sexual Assault Response Team of Fairfax, Virginia responded to the acute need for an improved method of dealing with cases involving child sexual assault. All too often the these cases were handled in either of two places -- the police department office or the emergency room at the local hospital, neither of which had a staff specially trained to handle these traumatized victims of abuse.

The newly created team utilizes a specially trained group of experts in the area of child sexual abuse, including a specialized medical team, members of the Police Department's Child Abuse Section, Child Protective Services Representatives and the Commonwealth Attorney's Office.

Together, they have formed a team which efficiently handles child sexual abuse cases in a way which is both sensitive to the child and more likely to result in a conviction of the offender. As a first step, the Police Department considerably reduced the necessary amount of interview time with the victim by working together with a CPS representative in a joint interview format.

Secondly, the medical examinations were conducted by the expert medical team trained at the "Child Abuse Treatment Room", which was funded by private donations and located at Fairfax County Hospital.

In the friendly environment of this treatment room, which is equipped with toys and furnished like a family room, the doctors and nurses remove the frightening atmosphere of an emergency room and are able to conduct a thorough, documented examination which will hold up in court. The construction of this facility was entirely funded by private donations, and its effectiveness directly affects the case built against the abuser.

The efficient, comprehensive program demonstrated by Fairfax proves its effectiveness from the moment the incident is reported, and cases the case is dealt with swiftly, sensitively and effectively through a series of authorities whose interest is in resolving it as soon as possible.

Through education and understanding, Fairfax County has demonstrated that local government agencies, private health care organizations and community involvement can combine visions and resources to create a successful local program.

Award of Innovation Union City, Ga.

Union City, Ga. has successfully implemented a virtually cost-free program utilizing unpaid police reserve officers in an undercover capacity which has proven to be an effective deterrent of drug traffic in their community.

After lengthy discussions with local prosecutors and judges, a regulary staffed drug task force consisting of part-time, unpaid police reserve officers was created.

While the use of reserve officers in drug-related investigations has been done, the continued operation and use of such a drug team as a regularly staffed unit is indeed a new development.

One of the major advantages of utilizing reserve officers in this capacity, aside from their cost effectiveness, is the fact that they will not be recognized by local drug dealers as a member of the police force. Each of the reserve officers was first required to undergo intensive training, as they would be working primarily in the undercover capacity as drug buyers.

Upon approval of the plan, the Chief of Police also assigned a full-time, paid detective to manage what was to be known as the Narcotics Enforcement Team (N.E.T.), a specialized drug task force consisting entirely of reserve officers. "Buy money" and funding for the continuation of the N.E.T. was to be provided by seized funds and assets by agents in their apprehension of suspects, and the entire project was virtually cost free to the taxpayer.

Successful coordination with the District Attorney's Office made for a solid conviction rate, and within the first two months of operation, the unit successfully confiscated almost fifteen thousand dollars from local drug dealers, more than enough to cover the equipment and manpower costs to keep the program alive.

An ordinance was passed by the Union City City Council which vested the N.E.T. with the authority to operate in other jurisdictions which had started similar programs. As a result of this ordinance, a mutually beneficial working relationship has evolved between the Union City Police Department and other jurisdictions, who have joined forces to fight the war on drugs.

Award of Innovation City of Portland, Maine

Noting the high incidence of racial violence among teens and young adults., the Police Department of Portland, Maine has devised a preventative crime fighting program which uses education as the primary weapon against "bias crimes" which had become increasingly evident in the area.

The Diversity Leadership Institute, which places junior and senior high school students at the forefront of the fight against ignorance and discrimination, is a component of the Community Task Force on Bias Crimes, a comprehensive plan implemented in the late 1980's by the Portland Police Department designed to provide equal protection to all of its residents.

Led by a core team of law enforcement officials, educators and community leaders, the Diversity Leadership Institute is a forum for student representatives from around the state to convene and discuss programs which destroy the destructive power of negative stereotypes before they are formed among the youth in their community.

At its meetings, which occur throughout the year and last from one to three days, the adult and student teams discuss ways to bring the message of celebrating diversity back to their schools and communities. This includes slogans like: "make one friend of someone not like yourself" and stressed the importance of these students taking a leadership role in diversity awareness at their schools.

Since 1992 the Diversity Leadership Institute has graduated 95 students, who have drafted a group vision statement and brought their message to at least 40 high schools in Maine.

Award of Innovation Garland, Tex.

The Garland Police Department responded to the steady expenditure of police resources to recurring crimes within its city's 204 apartment buildings by devising a comprehensive program which involves both officers and apartment managers in a mutual effort to promote law and order.

The idea for the Managers Group was enthusiastically supported by the Chief of Police, and was scheduled to meet every third Wednesday as a forum for police officers and apartment managers to convene to discuss crime prevention and responsible management techniques.

The manager's group also made special efforts to create a partnership with the community, including the creation of various parenting and youth-directed activities within the complexes, and the official establishment of "Outstanding Complex of the Month" and "Apartment Managers Day" in Garland. For exceptional police work with regards to the city's apartment complexes, an "Extra Mile" award was presented to many Garland Police officers.

As a joint effort between the public and private sector, the apartment manager's group demonstrated a comprehensive effort which effectively cleaned up the complexes and benefitted both residents and the community.

Evictions of problem tenants were carried out in an efficient, official manner by managers, who would then make available a list of these people to other complexes.

Numerous drug dealing rings were identified and prosecuted with the help of an intelligence network made possible by the close coordination between the Garland police and the apartment managers. A "zero tolerance" policy was formulated with a lease addendum resulting in immediate eviction in the case of any drug violation.

The improved screening process for new tenants reduced the incidence of future problems at the complexes, and responsible tenants were finally presented with an improved quality of life.

Award of Innovation Greater St. Louis Area

"Community Bridges," submitted by the City of Maryland Heights, Mo., is the product of a collaborative visioning process to better serve the interests of minority residents of the 90 municipalities within the Greater St. Louis MetropolitanArea.

Encompassing forty-four municipalities, fifty-five law enforcement agencies and thirty-three community and government organizations, "Community Bridges" is a Police-Community regional effort to improve law enforcement in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area, with special concern to the needs of minority citizens.

Task Forces on employment, training and conduct have established working relationships between police executives, community organizations, government agencies and labor associations designed to remove barriers to community cooperation.

Approved by the Board of Governors for Law Enforcement Officers of Greater St. Louis in the wake of the verdict of the Rodney King beating trial, Community Bridges emerged as the product of of discussions and a set of recommendations arrived at by regional community leaders and law enforcement officials.

With the goal of creating a basic set of standards for area police departments to follow, the Community Bridges program was broken down into smaller task forces, each chaired by one community leader and one representative law enforcement representative.

One year after its inception, the twenty-nine recommendations of the Community Bridges task force were accepted by the Community Relations committee, in a meeting attended by representatives of fifty-seven different organizations.

On June 10, 1993, these recommendations were unanimously accepted by the Board of Governors, and were assigned to committees for implementation. Community Bridges has already been recognized for its efforts at bridging the gap between communities and their law enforcement agencies, and is indeed a model of an innovative, well-planned criminal justice program.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:National League of Cities; Congress of Cities convention in Orlando, Florida
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 6, 1993
Previous Article:The executive director's report to members of the National League of Cities.
Next Article:Trade-in takes hundreds of weapons off city's streets in just four days.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters