Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Operation Safe Community

By Ursula Madden - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis Police Department's Blue Crush is a part of it - we've shown you how the MPD uses data to target crime.

So is Tim Dwyer's drug court, where offenders with drug addiction get a chance to get clean and stay out of jail.  More than 70 percent of people who graduate from drug court stay out of jail.

Or maybe you've heard about Project Safeways. Its goal is to reduce crime in apartment complexes by encouraging residents to report suspicious people and activities to property managers and police.

These three initiatives, and 12 others, are part of a five year plan laid out by the Memphis and Shelby Crime Commission's strategy team - Operation: Safe Community.

Linda Miller is the Executive Director of Operation: Safe Community.

"At the end of 2011, so many of the things that we have put into place I would hate to see them not continue," Miller said in a recent interview.   

Miller said the initiatives are wide ranging and try to reach into all aspects of crime prevention, including kids who may be headed into the juvenile court system.

"They may not be there yet, but someone realizes they are on their way. So they intervene with that child. But the intervention comes in because they work with the entire family," she said.

It's a program called Just Care 180. According to Miller, Operation: Safe Community realized the best way to help troubled children was to find out what was going on at home, then tailor social services to meet the entire family's needs.

Just Care 180 has only been running for a year, funded by the city of Memphis. Of the 75 children who have participated in the program, 86 percent have stayed out of the juvenile system.

Operation: Safe Community is also lobbying law-makers to strengthen state laws when it comes to crimes committed with guns.  And with domestic violence accounting for more than half of violent crimes, Operation: Safe community is tackling that problem too.

Miller says all 15 crime reducing initiatives are in full operation, and so far, they all seem to be producing positive results. She hopes the public and elected officials will continue to support Operation: Safe Community.

"In Boston several years ago there was the initiative to cut juvenile crime, particularly juvenile homicides," she said. "There was a big initiative. They implemented it, it worked, it went away, and homicides went back up."

The real test for Operation Safe Community comes at the end of 2011, but since it's inception in 2006, crime has steadily been on the decline.

If you would like to learn more about Operation: Safe Community and all its initiatives, click here.

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