Volunteers, cops jump-start policing in neighborhoods

Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Admitting that community policing has lapsed in the last few years, a group of volunteers and officers is working to revive the collaborative, police-and-neighbors project.

It's been in existence here for the last four years, but it fell by the wayside a couple of years ago because everyone was too busy, said Erin Cruz, team leader of the Community Police Project advisory board.

To reinvigorate the organization, Cruz and board members Ramona Winters, Sue Reishus-O'Brien, Ann Bennett, Jackie Jennings and Scarlett Adam attended training sessions with the Western Community Policing Center.

The project promotes a partnership between citizens and law enforcement. It's based on the premise that police and the community must work together as equals to identify, prioritize and solve problems such as vandalism, crime, paranoia about crime, illegal drug sales and use, social disorder and neighborhood decay, according by Robert Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux, authors of Community Policing: How To Get Started.

People need to have ownership of their own communities, Cruz said. We need to stop problems before they spread. We want to maintain the quality of life in Juneau before it grows into big city issues.

Reishus-O'Brien joined the CPP advisory board in May and has attended three training sessions, two in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. She believes individuals often spin their wheels over neighborhood problems, and that joining forces via CPP could give them a more viable way of addressing problems.

Instead of having to approach a large agency, which can be intimidating, they can go to a smaller group that can help focus complaints, Reishus-O'Brien said. For instance, residents within a neighborhood might be complaining individually about speeders on their streets. But, as a group, they can contact CPP, and then address the powers that be and identify solutions more efficiently.

Adam said the group hopes residents will take an active role in their neighborhoods.

It sounds corny, Adam said, but we would like to nip crime in the bud before it really gets out of control.

The first step in identifying and prioritizing problems is getting residents to read basic information and fill out survey forms. A form will be printed in the Empire's Channels TV section on Sunday, Aug. 20. Completed surveys can be dropped off at the Juneau Police Department, Gruening Park, Cedar Park and the Mountain View Senior Center.

Answers to the survey also can be phoned into the Gastineau Human Services chaplain's office, 780-3014, from 5-9 p.m. Between Aug. 21-25. Furthermore, surveyors with clipboards will be stationed during work hours at the Alaskan & Proud market, the Mendenhall Center, the Nugget Mall and SuperBear.

Survey results will be presented at a town meeting on Sept. 19. Facilitators will help residents arrive at goals and objectives to solve their concerns.

For details, call Sgt. Steve Hernandez at the Juneau Police Department, 586-0600.

To date, expenses have come from donations from the police department, Gastineau Human Services and the state of Alaska Employees Credit Union. NBA has donated funds for tickets to Anchorage, and the Western Community Policing Center awarded scholarships for training, Cruz said.

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