The initiative ‘Crime and safety’ relates to the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) Initiative 3: Strengthening Pride and Image and Initiative 4: Creating Attractive and Desirable Places. This initiative was created to foster the sense of safety and maintain safe neighborhoods. The initiative, ‘Crime and Density’ doesn’t relate specifically to the actions mentioned under Initiative 3 and 4 in MAP, as it identifies crime density in Thomas Park/Avondale (TPA) to mitigate the rising nature of crime activities and promote safety. People generally spotted and listed drugs and crime as threats in various locations of the community, which has been supported by further analysis. Identification of ‘hot spots’ of criminally active areas could provide significant understanding towards areas of concern and thus implement strategies that can improve neighborhood safety.
During the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association (TPANA) community meeting, held at Ross Center, residents expressed their concerns towards the growing unsafe environment. Some of them also mentioned the same to Lisa Dunaway via e-mail. This initiative was then formulated in response to the residents’ interests in improving the well-being of the community.
This initiative marks the necessity to promote a safe environment by mitigating criminal activities that develop a sense of fear, especially among youth, women, children and elderly. To support the above, residents in TPA have repeatedly expressed their concerns about drug market/activities and unsafe conditions, which they also marked on several locations on the map (during March meeting at Ross Centre) that are highly active in terms of crime and injury related threats.
Figure 2 Hand sketch illustrating the bike patrol for a safe environment. Source: Simran Bhinder
To analyze the ground realities with respect to the residents’ concerns, geo-database holding data for different crime based nature of activities needs to be mapped; so as to identify the ‘hot-spots’, which basically represents the intensification of crime density within the TPA community. Crime reports (2009-2015) data retrieved from the Delaware County GIS- Geographic Information Systems Department, for the Thomas Park/ Avondale area and community members’ observations/ local knowledge are essential tools to conduct this initiative. Furthermore, the data will help to identify locations that are active in criminal activities and potentially dangerous for the community. This identification could then be used to investigate the areas that require safety measures to cater to the residents’ interests. Key decision makers to be approached for implementation will be Muncie Police Department in integration with transportation department and the citizens of Thomas Park/ Avondale, City Council, and Mayor. The implementation of the following actions could be helpful to reduce the undesired activities and increase the safety of the neighborhood:
- Counseling/ educating the residents through neighborhood meetings: Informing the individuals about various criminal activities and actions that lead to such activities could help in raising awareness among the TPA residents (especially children, youth, and women). Also, providing police contact details
- ‘Hot spots’ policing: policing strategy like ‘bike patrolling’ in the intersections and other areas that are identified as ‘hot spots’ in TPA could be helpful for police and community outreach to identify and act effectively in a given time.
- Active utilization of passive spaces: passive spaces like alleys, open spaces, and areas along the dense green areas in TPA, could be used frequently for community gathering, or celebrations, or events like bike marathons etc.; could bring people’s constant attention to these areas that are usually avoided for regular use and thus become target spots for illegal activities.
In integration with the transportation department, and community residents of TPA, the Chief of Police (Steve Stuart), of Muncie Police Department could initiate neighborhood watch and bike patrol programs, and providing better illumination along the streets that are identified with high crime density. Muncie Police, Fire, and Housing Inspectors could join forces and convene neighborhood sensitization meetings in TPA. Also, the collaboration of the residents, residents association, various businesses and local neighborhood institutions in community gatherings, meetings and organizing events to foster community outreach, and sensitization towards criminal activities and ‘hot spot’ areas could work efficiently in mitigating such activities.
The crime density map highlights the ‘hot spots’ of violent crimes committed between 2009-2015 (Figure 3) along the W. Memorial (main road), S. Batavia Avenue, and S. Liberty Street; especially around the Ross Center and almost all the intersections along the W. Memorial Road. The intensity increases along intersections meeting at S. Franklin, S. High Street, W. Memorial and S. Walnut Street. The activities generally include arson, attempted murder, battery aggravated (includes domestic), burglary, child molest, criminal mischief, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, harassment, missing person, rape, robbery, runaway, and theft.
North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan
Beginning in 2007, New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) began to work with the community residents, on ‘North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan’ to strengthen the physical, social, and economic fabric of the community by being a catalyst for sustainable development and community building. Interactions with the citizens highlighted the complex issues faced by plan area residents and revealed that residents were strongly interested in improving their community. The planning process incorporated the community’s voice through two community input meetings and door-to-door surveying of 400 residents from the plan area. The process was also more heavily data-driven than the prior volunteer-led studies, relying on data from the Census, the Philadelphia Police Department, and extensive field surveys to depict the challenges faced by the community.
The neighborhood planning process is a forum for neighbors, business owners, investors, and civic leaders to learn and to exchange ideas, to imagine– together – the future of North of Lehigh.
The North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan represents a culmination of close to three years of active engagement with the plan area community. The process of revitalization has long been focused on reinvesting in both people and in place. This purpose of the plan is to:
The Kensington/Somerset intersection was given the unflattering title of “number one drug corner in the City of Brotherly Love” by Philadelphia Weekly in 2011.In order to deal with the same, they developed collaborative and innovative community policing tactics that involve the Philadelphia Police Department, SEPTA Transit Police, neighborhood residents and businesses, and neighborhood organizations will be crucial in stemming crime and helping foster a safe environment. SEPTA has posted 24- hour police surveillance at both the Kensington/Somerset and Kensington/ Huntingdon stations to prevent addicts from purchasing drugs near transit stops, while the 24th Police District has a 24-hour police detail at McPherson Square, along with foot and bike patrols throughout the surrounding neighborhoods to deter crime. The effects have been dramatic. In comparing crime hotspot maps from the time period between 2009-2011 and between 2012-2013, there is noticeably less crime and smaller, less intense crime hotspots than just a few years ago. This would not have been possible without the strategies taken on by local elected and public safety officials.
Through a City Commerce Department Beautification Grant, NKCDC spearheaded the installation of Gooseneck lighting on storefronts along the Frankford Avenue business corridor in 2007 and again in 2010. Ongoing maintenance of the fixtures became the businesses’ responsibility once installed. Merchants were responsible for paying approximately 10% of the costs affiliated with the lighting fixtures and installation that occurred on their property. Business owners are extremely happy with their fixtures and have noted only small changes in their utility bills. Foot traffic in the evenings has increased.
The Commerce SafeCam Program reimburses business and commercial property owners who purchase and install surveillance cameras to improve public safety around their buildings. For a single commercial property or business, Commerce SafeCam offers a 50% reimbursement (up to $3,000) of all costs attached to the installation of security cameras.
Department of Public Works in Muncie is responsible for street lighting and fixtures and thus, can be approached for improved lighting facilities.
Muncie Police Department
300 N. High Street, Muncie, IN 47305
Contact: Mr. Steve Stewart (police Chief)
Chief Office: (765) 747-4822
Muncie Fire Department
Muncie City Hall, 2nd Floor, 300 North High Street, Muncie, IN 47305
Phone: (765) 747-4870
Timing: 8am – 4pm (M-F)
Department of Public Works
5790 West Kilgore Avenue, Muncie, IN 47304
Phone: (765) 747-4847
Timing: 7am – 3pm (M-F)
Contact: Duke Campbell, Superintendent, Department of Public Works