CREATING SAFE SPACES…
The topic of community safety is at the center of many city dweller’s concerns. It is a concern that is not unique to the United States. This month’s issue of UK House Beautiful has 3 pages dedicated to crime prevention and community safety.
One of the major issues in many of our communities is that the police doesn’t always come when they’re called and sometimes the response time can be longer than we’d like. The reality is that regardless of how much funding is funneled into the Police Department, the police can’t be everywhere. There has to be community-based initiatives that lead to better quality of life and safety. The community must work in partnership with the Police Department, City Council, community organizations to create smart, innovative multi-prong strategies to improve quality of life.
Here are some interesting strategies that are not always discussed when talking about community safety:
- Create a Local Strategic Partnership that includes the Police Department and key stakeholders in the community. The Partnership can create subgroups to address specific quality of life issues among different demographics in our community. For example subgroups can include: healthier communities and our elders, children and youth, transportation, economic development, etc.
- Gun Violence Education-there are young people w/guns + silencers in the streets. While being armed-if you have the appropriate permit(s) is a constitutional right, there is a level of community responsibility that has to be in place. The National Rifle Association’s website states that firearms are the second leading cause of traumatic death related to a consumer product in the United States and are the second most frequent cause of death overall for Americans ages 15 to 24.
- Block by Block Community Safety Squads: create + share neighbor’s contact info, plan of action for emergencies from fire to violent incidents, outdoor visibility times, etc.
- Identify key community leaders that can create a committee to help mediate smaller quality of life crimes/negotiations so the police isn’t being called for loud music, code violations or smaller disturbances that are not life threatening. Of course this takes coordination, training and specific strategies. For instance sending letters to home owners, contacting code enforcement and following up, gathering documentation, etc.
- Promote community pride (from the children to the elders)! Develop a sense of love for the community. Work w/ local schools, neighborhood associations, create neighborhood tshirts, stickers, don’t pollute campaigns, etc-this will build community and give people a sense of ownership.
- Community events: outdoor cook-outs, block parties, walking groups, community bike rides, porch parties, get to know your neighbor brunches, victory gardens, etc.
- Funding for Children and Youth wellness organizations such as Parks + Recreation-promote lifelong learning, the arts, sports, tutoring, mentorship arrangements, summer youth employment programs, etc.
- Fundraising and installation for additional street lighting, call boxes and other safety features.
- Develop information on Emergency Services such as food banks, mental health, etc for community members and distribute
- Visibility-if you see someone you don’t know or doesn’t live on the street, say hello and keep an eye out. Provide basic community safety workshops that include common sense tips that can help you stay safe. Guidelines to start a neighborhood watch group: http://www.sacsheriff.com/crime_prevention/documents/neighborhood_watch_02.cfm
- Familiarity w map/registry of sex offenders homes
- community in U.K. develops community safety plan: http://www.southnorthants.gov.uk/community_living/248.htm
- creating safety networks: http://safetynetwork.org/article.php?id=81
- youth crime prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/bestpractices.htm
- gun violence prevention: http://www.supgv.org/