Cleveland, Tenn., crime control grant halfway done

Cleveland, Tenn., crime control grant halfway done

February 21st, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Evie West with the Cleveland Police Department in Tennessee

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

SATURATION SAMPLE

  • Patrol date: Feb. 3

  • Officers involved: 10

  • Hours involved: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

  • Targeted: High drug and crime areas

  • Traffic stops: 64; 18 consent searches and one canine search

  • Arrests: Two felonies, three state citations, one city citation, eight field interviews

Source: Cleveland Police Department

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Halfway through a three-year, $800,000 grant to reduce crime in certain city neighborhoods, the government and nonprofit agencies involved are considering what will happen when the grant ends.

Their goal is to sustain working relationships among the 15 agencies that aim to prevent crime, enforce the laws and rebuild communities.

In Cleveland, the targeted area is police sectors one and two, roughly south and east Cleveland.

"The mission of the grant is to reduce criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse in these sectors," said grant evaluator David Watts, a private consultant and former assistant vice president at Cleveland State Community College. "We have lots of variables to track. You can't say the grant's not working when the numbers go up. There might be better reporting, too."

Cleveland is one of six midsize Tennessee cities, along with Kingsport, Columbia, Murfreesboro, Jackson and Clarksville, to receive the grants through the Tennessee Department of Criminal Justice. The grant period began in June 2010 and ends in June 2013.

City police broke down the numbers by quarters for the first full year of the grant's enforcement portion. From January through March 2011, the sectors had arrests or citations for 72 drug and alcohol offenses and 74 assaults. From April through June they had 109 drug and alcohol offenses and 74 assaults; from July through September, 116 drug and alcohol offenses and 129 assaults; and from October through December, 91 drug and alcohol offenses and 92 assaults.

Watts said prevention programs were off to a good start in the last half of 2010. By next month, he said, the local partners should know the state reaction to the enforcement numbers.

Each month the 15 partner agencies meet for updates, led by City Manager Janice Casteel. The partners are as varied as the Bradley County Juvenile Justice Center and the Cleveland Police Department to the Boys and Girls Club, the Bradley Initiative for Church and Community and the Cleveland/Bradley Behavior Research Institute.

Five organizations, Juvenile Court, the Boys and Girls Club, the Behavior Research Institute, the anti-drug and alcohol abuse coalition GRAAB and the Cleveland police receive funds from the grant. The rest of the agencies do not.

While organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club provide play and study resources for kids to keep them out of trouble, police crack down on crime and social agencies intervene with former offenders coming back to their neighborhoods.

City police spokeswoman Sgt. Evie West told attendees at the February meeting that officers from many agencies are saturating known "drug corners," building relationships with residents, developing informants, reducing domestic violence and taking General Sessions Court referrals from the targeted areas for rehabilitation and counseling.

Two officers, paid for through the grant, are assigned only to the targeted neighborhoods.

"They are very good officers with lots of experience, officers who are community oriented," West said. "Developing relationships in the community is extremely important."

Watts said he was "glad to hear about the collaboration" among the agencies.

"One of the main purposes after the grant money is gone is that these networks are built and continue," he said.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.