Problematic Behavior or Activity
Too often, community members are not informed of construction projects in their neighborhoods, in terms of who is in charge, the timeline for the project, and contact information. This makes residents feel disconnected from the project, does not foster a sense of ownership, and could increase the potential for illegal or suspicious activity at the site.
When problems arise at or near the construction site, such as suspicious activity, theft, vandalism, or other issues that may affect the neighborhood, community members do not know what to do or whether they should even get involved. The construction site can become an easy target for theft or vandalism because neighbors are not acting as guardians. Such problems may even pose safety hazards that go unnoticed, such as unauthorized people entering the site and getting injured.
City of Portland crime prevention coordinators are geographically assigned and work closely with people in their respective neighborhoods, providing crime prevention education and doing community organizing. The Construction Industry Crime Prevention Program (CICP) works with contractors on crime prevention and property recovery efforts. Both programs work in partnership with law enforcement. The third key partner in this effort is the community.
Large Portland Parks & Recreation projects were planned in two neighborhoods where crime prevention coordinators work. Both locations have schools nearby, making community involvement especially important.
Implementation: The first step is to communicate with CICP to find out whether the project contractor is a member of the program.
Before a project gets under way, the stakeholders meet to develop a plan and timeline for strategic initiatives and community outreach. At this stage, the crime prevention coordinator, the CICP representative, the contractor, a community group or representative (such as a member of the neighborhood association), and the local Neighborhood Response Team officer meet to discuss the plans.
Working in partnership, a message for the neighborhood is crafted in a way that introduces the project, the contractor, timelines, hours of operation, contact information, and provides crime prevention information and how to report suspicious activity or crime by calling 911 or using a nonemergency number or e-mail address. The group also develops a message about receiving a reward from CICP for reporting crime to the CICP number.
Contractors participating in the CICP put up signs around the construction site with a contact number for the contractor and a number for reporting crime directly to CICP.
The next step is to get the message out to neighbors by way of flyers, the neighborhood association website, Nextdoor.com, and other means to inform and involve residents and businesses. In some cases, the contractor can have staff help distribute flyers in the neighborhood as a light-duty assignment.
If the site is near a school, the following activities can also help get community members involved:
- Partner with the school to send a message to parents.
- Consider scheduling a show-and-tell day for kids to see equipment. (This may require volunteers from the community.)
- Consider providing jobsite tours.
- Organize a school event when construction workers can talk with kids.
- Develop special instructions regarding construction trucks for crosswalk workers.
- Plan an open house for the neighborhood.
This program does not need additional funding if existing resources are efficiently involved. For instance, if a crime prevention program, a law enforcement neighborhood team, or even an organized community group like the neighborhood association participates, more financial support may be unnecessary. For activities that may require funding, it is worth seeking community grants geared toward crime prevention efforts. The contractor or project manager may also be motivated to sponsor a community event, particularly when those parties weigh the risk of losing expensive equipment and tools, given that involving community members as guardians can help prevent theft.
This collaborative partnership helps the neighborhood and the construction industry.
Critical Success Factors
Collaboration in the initial stages of the project helps develop a strategic timeline.
Once the plan is under way and outreach has been done, a community meeting may be helpful, to bring neighbors together to discuss any issues and to provide crime prevention education.
Bilingual Reward Signs