Jed Boal ReportingNeighbors saw a problem, took action and now have less crime in their neighborhood. Police credit the people, the people credit police--a partnership that cut crime.
Nearly a year ago people in the neighborhoods near East High were angry about a surge in crime. Today, there's a turn-around. They identified the problems with police and acted as a team.
Last March a dead body turned up on a sidewalk in the Douglas Neighborhood, tied to a drug deal blocks away. That was a wake-up call for a rise in crime. Police told them to get organized, so they did. Police came to their meetings and told them how to fight back and the network of neighbors grew.
Mary Aa, Douglas Neighborhood Association: “It said to them, ‘This is serious.’ The police gave status to our organizational efforts."
They work with a Community Action team. Neighbors call police and each other when they see something suspicious. Police cracked down on kids cutting school from East High. After truancy round-ups, crime fell from the fall of 2002 to last fall.
Car break-ins dropped 30 percent; car thefts, 11 percent. And burglaries fell nearly 50 percent.
Det. Kevin Joiner, Salt Lake City Police Department: “They called us, we responded. Neighbors getting involved is the best crime prevention tool you've got."
People here are certainly happy about the cut in crime, but the movement has also fostered a greater sense of community and made people feel better about where they live.
Mary Aa, Douglas Neighborhood Association: “People have said to me, ‘this is the first time they've lived somewhere that they've had a chance to help shape the neighborhood to be the way they want it to be.’"
They want the drop in crime to continue.
Det. Kevin Joiner, Salt Lake City Police Department: “We really look for our citizens to call us and say, ‘Hey, we're really having a problem with this area,’ and that's what we're going to focus on."
Fighting crime is an ongoing effort. The neighborhood plans to remain vigilant and is expanding plans to include emergency preparedness and other levels of watchfulness.