The Flint Police Foundation has been awarded a $1,087,107 grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation to implement its North End Community Crime Strategy (NECCS). The strategy targets changes in community infrastructure, culture and physical environment in order to reduce crime. The emphasis of the approach is to improve social and physical order in high crime areas by reducing “disorder related” crimes. The grant period for NECCS will span three years.
The strategy is seeking the engagement of the community, including residents, faith-based organizations and other local government agencies to help address the factors that contribute to the community’s crime, delinquency and disorder. This approach is a return to the community policing model of which the Flint Police Department had once been a forerunner. Tools available for this approach include creating or expanding neighborhood watch programs, growing community policing, examining urban and physical design, and the implementation of comprehensive, multi-disciplinary efforts.
“The two main components to making this strategy work are acquiring good data and having the buy in from the community,” said Police Chief James W. Tolbert. “When you can share data on crime trends with community members, they have a better understanding of the overall patterns of crime in their areas and see what is working to deter it and what is not.” Expansion of the Blue Badge Volunteer Corps and the Citizens Radio Patrol figures heavily into these components.
In addition to community involvement and education, there are other critical modules of the strategy. Specified Alliance Action is meant to improve social and physical disorder (such as blight) using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and by utilizing partnerships at every level. The Social Service Actions module of the strategy entails the cooperative efforts of police and social service agencies to address social disorders by offering youth activities, mental health services and working with local shelters to find housing for homeless individuals.
The Street Smart Software module focuses on improving information technology available to officers in the field for real time data sharing, meaning officers will have the ability to communicate on crime issues from their vehicle while still on scene. This information is then cross referenced with archival information to better identify trends in activity. As stated in the strategy’s outline, this ability is paramount and “could be the difference between a continued crime spree and the arrest of an individual.”
Several cities have been using the software since it was developed in 2012 and report notable reductions in crime and decreases from the time of an incident to the time of arrest. The Tampa police department, one of the developers of the software, went from ranking #2 in the nation in crime for a city its size to a 64% reduction in violent and property crimes.
While NECCS is a police driven strategy, it will entail the coordinated efforts of every City department: Planning and Development to Building and Safety to Blight Enforcement. Additional partners will include Flint Neighborhoods United, WOW Outreach, and Michigan Faith in Action. Staff supported by the grant will include 10 part time Neighborhood Safety Officers (NSOs), 2 full time police officers, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technician and a dedicated intelligence analyst.
It is anticipated that the outcome of NECCS will be a 5-10% drop in calls in target areas, a 50% reduction in social disorder such as public drinking and drug use and a 60% reduction in physical disorder such as trash, graffiti and other blight. As the strategy continues, the City will pursue continued funding in order to grow its use to a citywide application.