The Local Initiative Support Corporation’s (LISC) Community Safety Initiative (CSI) helps to establish problem-solving partnerships among law enforcement, community developers, residents, business owners and members of other neighborhood institutions. Often though, real partnerships that go beyond basic information-sharing to spur strategic collective action are often hard earned, particularly in light of resource constraints and deep issues of distrust between communities and police that sabotage collaboration.
CSI helps neighborhoods confront these challenges by cross-training community developers and officers to create common language, bridge gaps across institutional cultures and help people break the bonds of traditional roles. CSI then creates a structure for police and communities to do things together – often to tackle hot spots that have not yielded to prior crime control efforts. They jointly develop common workplans and hold each other accountable for implementation. This ensures that organizing efforts, development projects and enforcement operations yield tangible, synergistic results: crime reduction that promotes community cohesion and development, and community-driven revitalization projects that promote crime reduction.
CSI efforts span a broad range of projects, including targeted property acquisitions informed by community and police identification of crime hot spots, offender reentry initiatives to short-circuit the cycle of recidivism, use of trusted community organizations to enlist at-risk youth in crime prevention efforts, park renovations and programming to create vibrant public spaces. Critical to success is partnerships’ ability to engage a range of city and nonprofit agencies in crime reduction efforts. Community-based organizations catalyze physical change in high-crime environments to create lasting symbols of real community-police collaboration.
Locally, NWBRV’s Community Safety Initiative, is a joint effort of NWBRV, the Woonsocket Police Department, the Woonsocket Housing Authority, and others to improve safety in the Our Neighborhoods Planning District (comprised of the Constitution Hill, Fairmount, & Downtown Main Street neighborhoods), and around the City of Woonsocket as a whole.
In years one and two, members of the Department were able to attend specialized training to improve performance and crime patterns were analyzed with the use of new data reporting software. The Providence Plan provided the team with mapping tools to aid in these assessments. This is the third year of funding for the project and operations have scaled up to provide even more tactical support to the Department in year three.