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City of Clearwater, Florida:

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North Greenwood Neighborhood Patrol

In 1985, the Clearwater Police Department identified the North Greenwood community as the next area for expansion of its community policing strategy. The North Greenwood community had suffered for decades from a spiraling state of urban decay and neighborhood neglect; an ever increasing crime rate; and a perceived secondhand status when it came to municipal improvements. Police management, realizing that the traditional methods of law enforcement had been ineffective in this neighborhood, decided to make North Greenwood a model for its community policing program.

With the help of an $89,000 Community Development Block Grant, the North Greenwood Neighborhood Patrol (NGNP) Police Substation was opened in 1985 in a surplus city building centrally located along the community’s business district. North Greenwood Neighborhood Patrol SubstationInitially, citizen reaction to the increased police presence was not favorable; in fact, some actually picketed City Hall in opposition to the substation. Yet, through the combined efforts of the police officers assigned to the substation – all on a volunteer basis – along with the local business community and various neighborhood associations, a change began to take place in the North Greenwood community. Children who were exposed to department-sponsored computer learning centers, Girls’ Clubs and Boy Scout Troops, summer jobs programs and holiday parties, came to realize that the men and women in uniform were not their enemies. Students’ grades improved with the help of volunteer after-school tutors. The doors to the substation were left open and residents began to peek in and initiate conversations with officers. As the officers began to patrol the North Greenwood community on foot and on bicycles, the residents came to recognize and appreciate what the officers were doing, and juvenile crime and its attendant social problems began to decrease.

Working closely with other city departments, the NGNP officers identified more than 100 abandoned and unsafe structures that were scheduled for demolition. With the help of the Florida Power Corporation, street lighting was improved for added safety and as a deterrent to crime. City sanitation crews assisted with "Operation Clean Sweep," an annual project that removes hundreds of tons of trash and debris from public streets and vacant lots.

The city instituted new streetscapes and municipal landscaping while the Code Enforcement department worked with businesses, residents and NGNP officers to address the issue of substandard housing in the community. This led to the creation of the "Community Response Team," who together with the residents and municipal employees, addressed the problem of the "broken window" syndrome.

The North Greenwood Civic Association, the Ministerial Alliance, the NAACP and various business and civic groups worked with the NGNP in organizing not only anti-drug rallies and marches but an annual cultural streetfest that has grown into a regional event administered by the community groups themselves. The Department of Health and Human Services, together with the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Pinellas County Government, Operation PAR, the Juvenile Welfare Board and the City of Clearwater created a community partnership called the "Sergeant Allen Moore Community Partnership." This partnership empowered residents and community leaders to establish prevention programs that continue today based on the immediate needs of their neighborhood.

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