With the help of a grant from the Assisi Foundation of Memphis and an agreement with a group headed by Artemis “Peppa” Williams, the Crime Commission is ramping up the Neighborhood Safety Initiative, a key part of the Operation: Safe Community (OSC) plan.
The OSC plan calls for the implementation of the Neighborhood Safety Initiative as a way of increasing community engagement in crime prevention and reduction efforts. Its focus is to build on existing structures, namely law enforcement trained neighborhood watch groups and Police Joint Agencies (PJAs), which bring public agency representatives and citizens together to address community blight and crime concerns.
On the recommendation of the Memphis Police Department (MPD), the effort is focusing on the Old Allen and Tillman MPD precincts. The goal is to vastly expand the footprint of neighborhood watch groups in those two precincts and increase citizen participation in the PJAs in those precincts, with the expectation of increasing public agency responsiveness.
A recent assessment by the Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis concluded that, in order to achieve these outcomes, a major grassroots effort would be needed. To view the entire assessment, go to www.memphis.edu/psi/documents/psi-neighborhood-safety-initiative-assessment.pdf. The Crime Commission approached the Assisi Foundation with a proposal to create such a grassroots, community-based effort in the two precincts and has been awarded funding for the effort.
The Crime Commission has, in turn, entered an agreement with Peppa Williams and his group to spearhead the effort, working closely with the MPD, the PJAs in the two precincts, and others. Peppa Williams has a background in sponsoring community-based events, including back to school “block parties” for the Shelby County Schools as a way to increase pre-school year pupil registration. WorkIng with Williams, Kimberly Conley will serve as project manager.
“We believe Peppa Williams and his team have the skill set needed to mobilize citizens at the neighborhood level. We hope to bring citizen participation in crime prevention and reduction efforts to a new level and, in the process, also improve communications between law enforcement and the community,” said Bill Gibbons, Crime Commission president.