A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”

South Park has been lucky. For at least the last 20 years, we’ve had a “Community Based Police Officer” or two- paid for by the good folks at Premier Health Partners/Miami Valley Hospital.

Since we’re a Historic District, and they can’t just bulldoze South Park- they figured they better make sure it’s safe, so their employees and patients aren’t scared away- or car jacked on the way to the hospital. At first, we even had a social worker working with the CBP’s as we like to refer to them- to work out issues where the police may not be the best solution. It was an attempt to do creative problem solving. It wasn’t the right answer.

Since the effort began, things have changed thanks to the Internet, Facebook and a strong neighborhood organization. A private group started on FB to discuss and report crime within the ‘hood. Now when your car got broken into- you’d know instantly if you were a single target- or if they had walked a few streets on the way to your car. People would then review their security cams. One of our neighbors who was adamantly against video surveillance- ended up finding out who totaled her boyfriend’s car thanks to a neighbor who caught it on video. We could share mugshots of the people who were police suspects- we now know who to be wary of, and what they are wanted for. But, even with increased information, we were still not getting the results we wanted.

There was one petty thief who kept returning to the neighborhood to live with his mom between stints in prison, and like clockwork, we knew when he was out as garage burglaries picked up. He solved our problem by finally OD’ing on heroin. One problem solved. Unfortunately now, he might be saved by a police officer with Narcan. I’m not so sure I’m a fan of Narcan unless the very next step is always a year-long treatment/rehabilitation program that’s inpatient and that works. Otherwise, we’re just recycling our problems.

This last crime spree was getting increasingly annoying. You’ve seen the post about our neighborhood cancer home, and there have been a few other stories in the news. Enter the most successful crime-fighting tool we’ve found: a former Dayton cop who knows the system inside and out.

He has served as an advocate for the community, collecting all the information about the crimes, the perps, their records, their probation status- and working with the police and the prosecutors to make the case as strong as possible. You know those cork boards of criminal families you see in cop shows- he’s building them and getting input from residents on who is related to who, and who their friends or “running buddies” are. This all takes time.

He’s given the neighborhood the information to write letters to judges just before the case comes to trial. He’s worked with police and the probation department to do spot bed checks on juveniles with court-imposed curfews. With prosecutors, police and probation officials all overworked, he’s served as their criminal concierge, serving up the bad guys for maximum effect when they get to court. The focus on outcomes being reported back in a timely fashion, makes it clear to all that this is now a neighborhood that won’t accept plea bargains, light sentences or too many chances for the low-lifers who are making our neighborhood suffer.

So far, we’ve got about 8 bad actors getting hit hard with the full book. We’re still looking at going into mediation with one crime house to see what it will take to just get them to leave the area. Others are being tossed by landlords who “didn’t know.” Never before have we had such a good flow of information about the courts, the police, the perps and the outcomes.

Here is the secret to successful community based policing in summary:

  • Have a well-defined neighborhood with good boundaries.
  • Have a strong neighborhood organization, with a great online communication structure.
  • Assign at least two police officers to the neighborhood, who come to meetings, share a private number and are highly visible and well known to the neighbors.
  • Provide information on criminal records, mug shots, good descriptions of the problem children to the community. Make it clear who the police think are suspects, and ask for help with license plates, hours of activity, what they are wearing etc.
  • Have a coordinator who knows the police, probation, judges, court system, prosecutors working to collect and organize everything from insurance claims, video surveillance footage, records, and serve as a communications hub between all parties.
  • Monitor judges’ and the prosecutors’ performance, always asking for maximum sentences, and minimal plea bargaining.

In the last month, we’ve seen probation revoked, landlords evicting, cases consolidated and coordinated and even new efforts with “surge patrolling” by the police department, “bait” programs to catch petty thieves stealing, and a heightened level of alert, resulting in more people calling to report even the smallest of criminal behavior, or when we hear gunshots. Things that used to be ignored, now go reported, and have led to arrests.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be this difficult to live in the City of Dayton. Oakwood residents never have to commit this amount of time and energy to providing for their public safety. It’s unfortunate that the focus of our leaders hasn’t been a clean, safe community for decades, but that’s the first level of building strong communities. The foundation. The one that can’t be ignored- ever.

In the next few weeks we’ll find out if more judges respond to these improved tactics and how it changes things in South Park. Will the criminal element that lives and steals here learn that crime won’t pay in South Park anymore? To be continued…

 

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9 Comments on "A new tool for successful “Community Based Policing”"

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Geoff

Good article, although I think making a comparison to Oakwood is kind of pointless; that particular community is a completely different demographic from South Park, as well as pretty much the rest of Dayton in toto.

new government
new government

I agree this is all good for each community to be pro active in endeavors to community based policing. It all depends on each neighborhood and how united, how strong, and how long the residents live in a particular area. If residents are transients this is less favorable to these areas and can destabilize it; when residents feel at home and there is long term commitment to safety and where one lives and knows there local governments care then good hard working families will stay and positive bonds grow. If government stifles us with too much regulation business leaves (something that all too often happens here) residents cannot support a family with limits imposed upon them then they leave discouraged. Lets hope the future government leaders will learn something by listening to citizens that pay there salary to a system where they need to serve us and keeping them accountable to not forget each one of us have the power to see this through then can we have long term solutions and keep Ohio people with jobs and businesses worked with people that are your neighbors locally a working force for not only a strong neighborhood, but a working force that stays in the area with Ohio jobs and businesses that will call Dayton Ohio home.

Dave C.

Glad to hear things are on the upswing in South Park.

Perhaps there is a South Park volunteer willing to do free background checks on prospective tenants for all South Park landlords? The landlords don’t want scumbag tenants, and the neighbors certainly don’t want to live next door to criminals. This could be a good volunteer opportunity for individuals with handicaps, seniors, or insomniacs.

Do it all via anonymous email, so there is no opportunity for reprisals or threat of same, and make sure prospective tenants sign a release form authorizing the background check on their rental application. I know that, if I were renting real estate, a background/credit check would be SOP.

It’s better to keep criminals from moving in in the first place. One they’re on your doorstep, they are a much bigger problem.

Granted, most landlords probably do this already, but making it free (and strongly encouraging landlords to run background checks on 100% on applicants) could help keep out scumbags.

Dave C.

No, background checks won’t solve 100% of the problem. no single effort will. But wouldn’t you like to know that South Park landlords have zero excuse for renting to lowlifes?

Jan

Dave C. – background checks can – and should – be “free” for the landlord. The landlord only needs to structure the application process to make it so.
I require background checks for all prospective adult residents of my properties. This is part of their formal application process, and the charge (typically about $35 per individual) is paid up front by the prospective tenant AS the application fee. I use a small firm in Kettering that has worked well for me for about 15 years. The report includes criminal and financial information.

Irresponsible landlords come in many varieties, so the community needs a variety of strategies to hold them accountable. Keeping landlords constantly informed of problems at their properties – whether they respond to this information or not – is a key first step to holding them accountable. If they are informed about problems and choose to do nothing, they can lose the ability to rent for a year. Make sure they know this could happen to them, and make sure they know the neighborhood is poised to pursue that penalty.
One thing they ALL care about is their cash flow.

Dave C.

The reality is that a criminal record and/or bad credit makes renting in Oakwood, Springboro, or Centerville unlikely. I am fairly certain, though, that it is possible to rent in South Park (or other City of Dayton neighborhoods) without anything other than cash up front and a promise to pay rent, no BG check.

Vigorous pursuit of the criminals in South Park (and elsewhere) is a great idea. But pursuing the landlords that rent to them is important, too. Renting to criminals needs to
stop. I wouldn’t tolerate it where I live, and nobody else should have to.

Emily

Look at Huffman right now – arsons out the yin-yang. The cops catch the guy – the PROSECUTOR lets him out on bond. Surprise – another arson in the same neighborhood days later. Dayton/MC has had the same prosecutor for 20+ years now He runs unopposed. He has favorites in the office. He has worked in the MCPO for 40 years. He’ll go after an Oakwood cop like a bat out of hell (really on of the dumber criminal stories this year, like the OPD wasn’t going to notice $100K missing) yet a certain funeral director who “happens to be related to the former mayor” gets a pass for years. It wasn’t until she stole so much money and left hundreds of cremains abandoned in vacant homes that her own community turned on her and Heck HAD to act. There lies our problem campers. Yet every attorney I have talked to who would be wholly qualified for the job refuses to run. I just don’t see things changing until that end of the equation is changed.

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