Problematic Behavior or Activity
Located within North Bend, Coos County, Qaxas Heights is a community of 25 families (a total of 57 residents). Eighteen of the residents are under 18 years of age, and 13 are over 55 years of age. Growing concern about the use and activity of nonresidents on an unmanaged neighborhood trail hit a tipping point when a woman was assaulted in the area. This incident affected perceptions of safety in the eyes of residents by heightening the perceived potential for ongoing criminal activity in the community. Neighbors voiced concerns and discomfort about using the trail. There was also a call for service regarding nonresidential subjects who were camping along the trail and creating a disturbance.
Impact on the Community
Residents had an increased perception of crime in the area and were uncomfortable using the trail. Many residents did not know that there was a trail because of overgrowth. Residents were also concerned about undesirable people from outside of their community using the trail.
The program identified the neighborhood concerns regarding the trail and its condition. We utilized the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles to create a solution. The idea of a multiagency approach to clean up the trail was a key component. We coordinated with the housing department and residents to schedule a clean-up day. Staff from both the Police Department and Housing Department assisted residents with the clean up. Lighting was also fixed and replaced. The clean up day cleared the trail, made it more visible from the street, and removed litter and overgrowth.
Based on Research
We utilized practices illustrated by the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design studies, which evaluate the crime environment and features of the environment that facilitate crime or undesirable behaviors. CPTED attempts to remove or reduce these opportunities by changing various aspects of both environmental design and use of the environment. Specifically, we sought to increase natural surveillance by cutting back the trail so that it would be visible from street level. We furthermore promoted natural access control by ensuring that the lights on the trail were functioning. Finally, we instated territorial reinforcement through posting a sign at the entrance of the trail identifying it as "Tribal Property."
We also utilized the SARA (Scan, Analyze, Respond, Assess) Model in implementing the program. Through scanning the problem, we decided to establish a meeting with department stakeholders in order to formulate a way to prevent further problems. Stakeholders included law enforcement, housing department, residents, and guests. Analyzing the problem involved meeting with the housing and police departments to discuss problems/solutions, contacting the residents to determine the extent/perception of the problem, and visiting the trail area in question with residents so that they could discuss their concerns. Responding to the problem involved establishing goals to be achieved through the implementation of CPTED, identifying a plan to create "Trail Clean-Up Day," establishing a timeline/date for clean-up, creating flyers, notifying staff, and contracting residents in person to explain the event. Finally, assessment of the program's effectiveness involved monitoring issues related to the trail, following up with residents, and identifying any displacement related problems.
The only funding utilized was by the housing department, which provided drinks and pizza for all who participated. Even if residents were not able to participate in the clean-up, we invited them to come have lunch with us. The housing office provided the tools and equipment.
By inviting residents and showing our own dedication by participating, we empowered the residents to take responsibility for keeping their neighborhood safe. It also allowed the department the opportunity to show to residents that we care for their safety, and to tell us if anything compromises that perception of safety. The program encouraged increased conversations with residents and communication with the Tribal Housing Office and provided groundwork for addressing future problems.
Critical Success Factors
The primary factor of success regarding the program was coordinating with the housing department and going door-to-door to invite residents to participate. Even if they were unable to attend the clean-up day, it opened discussions between residents and the Police regarding not only the trail, but also other items of concern. It also created a reason to talk face-to-face with residents so that they could feel comfortable speaking with us about future concerns.
Communicate with your residents and community partners. Following the implementation of this program, we are able to hold each other responsible for the safety of the community. Although this project is small in scope, its principles can be modified and adapted to fit the needs of any community.