Neighborhood Alert Center Team
Community Oriented Policing Officer
Community Oriented Police (COPP) officers work out of the Neighborhood Alert Centers to develop a working relationship with neighbors for overall safety and crime reduction. The Little Rock Police Department implemented the program, originally consisting of nineteen (19) Police Officers assigned to intensified patrols in various neighborhoods throughout the City, in June 1992. These original patrols areas were selected on the basis of citizen requests for service concerning targeted offenses (drug, property crimes), crime statistics, the proximity of schools and recreational facilities, and the anticipated locations of Alert Centers. Depending upon the specific areas and the terrain, these Officers either walk, ride a bicycle, or ride a horse to accomplish their patrols. Officers on horseback are often assigned to parks or hilly areas of the City. The Bicycle Officers are often assigned to central portions of the City where the streets are flatter and there are fewer sidewalks. The foot patrols are assigned to neighborhoods much smaller in size where they can be visible and serve as a crime deterrent.
Although Officers in the community policing program work substantially smaller beats, community oriented policing is not simply a "cop on a small beat" program. Instead, the smaller beats provide residents with the opportunity to get to know an Officer and for the Officer to meet neighbors and become aware of neighborhood issues and dynamics. The program fosters bonds between the citizens of the neighborhoods and the Police Officers who serve them, opens new channels of communications and understanding, and provides neighborhoods with an effective resource tool to assist in improvements in the physical appearance, safety and sense of security in the neighborhood. As community oriented policing is to be a pro-active approach to fighting crime and an attempt to get to the root causes of problems, COPP Officers are encouraged to actively participate in neighborhood activities and projects and to explore solutions to area problems beyond the traditional law enforcement framework.
Code Enforcement Officer
Code Enforcement Officers work to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens by responding to citizen complaints about premise and housing code violations, abandoned automobiles, overgrown weedlots and other environmental hazards. As a result, Code Enforcement Officers help eliminate negative elements which impact the environmental and structural safety of the neighborhoods.
In addition, Code Enforcement Officers are responsible for the systematic inspection of all rental property in the City to insure that all rental property is maintained within City Code standards. The Rental Inspection Program, requested by Little Rock neighborhood associations, was implemented in May 1994. Annual funding for the program was created through a one (1)-half cent sales tax passed by citizens on December 14, 1993, which allowed for additional Code Enforcement Officers to be hired.
Currently, thirty-one (31) Code Enforcement Officers work out of Neighborhood Alert Centers located in five (5) large Code Enforcement Districts that cover the City. Five (5) senior Code Enforcement Officers, one (1) for each District, supervise the thirty-one (31) Code Enforcement Officers. Like other members of the Alert Center team, Code Enforcement Officers often go beyond the traditional nature of their jobs to assist residents in finding ways to correct housing problems which may violate City Code.
Neighborhood Facilitators were assigned to the Alert Centers to coordinate and mobilize residents to fight back against crime and related problems in their neighborhoods. As stated in their job description, the formal job objective for the Neighborhood Facilitator is "to provide assistance to neighborhood residents by identifying problems and accessing resources and services.
The designers of the Neighborhood Alert Centers knew that the leadership role for these Alert Centers must come from the neighborhood to be effective. If the Alert Centers were viewed as just another City Hall program that came in and "told" residents what they needed, they would not work.
Neighborhood Facilitators identify neighborhood needs, problems and goals through neighborhood surveys. Both residents and non-residents (individuals who work and/or attend church in the Neighborhood Alert Center area but do not live there) are surveyed. The surveys provide resident generated information and recommendations to City Planners and decision-makers. An environmental survey is also conducted by the neighborhood facilitators to assess the conditions of the neighborhood.
In addition, Neighborhood Facilitators attend meetings of neighborhood associations, crime watches, community development corporations and other groups to assist with the planning and organization of neighborhood programs, projects and activities designed to improve conditions within neighborhoods as identified by residents. They are provided the opportunity to flex their work schedules to include evening and weekend hours so they can attend these meetings.
In terms of the administration and operation of the Alert Centers, the Neighborhood Facilitators work with COPP Officers and Code Enforcement Staff assigned to the Alert Center to ensure that the needs of the residents are met.
For More Information
Victor Turner, Assistant Director
Housing & Neighborhood Programs
Little Rock City Hall
500 West Markham Street, Room 120W
Little Rock, AR 72201