|Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership
C L A S P
October 2010 – Vol 1, Issue 5
|Spread the Word!
|If this newsletter would be helpful to others in your neighborhood or organization, please help us spread the word by using the FORWARD TO A FRIEND button above
At the bottom of this newsletter is a link that you can place on your listserv or website to inform your neighborhood about CLASP.
|If you were forwarded this newsletter and wish to be on our list, click here to be added for future correspondance
|C.L.A.S.P. stands for Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership. This organization brings together volunteers who want to address crime prevention and safety at the neighborhood level.
Please visit our new website –WWW.CLASPATX.COM. You will find the start of our library of helpful documents and links, plus announcements and events. Many thanks to Jack Darby and Mary Rudig for making this happen. Tell us if you have anything to add.
Thanks to those of you who joined us last Saturday for a meeting featuring Art Acevedo (rooting for Michigan that day). We were honored by his presence and the Chief gave us a glimpse of the challenges facing our police department. He also gave thanks to all who work on safety in their neighborhoods.
Is your neighborhood represented in our survey? If not, please help us get this distributed through your neighborhood yahoo group. Time is running out and we want to poll as much of Austin as possible.
Want to stay on top of current affairs with public safety? Consider attending the monthly Public Safety Commission meeting on the first Monday of each month. There are some great presentations about issues from APD, EMS and AFD. The Commission makes recommendations to Council and you can get ahead of the curve by being more informed and making your voice heard.
What are YOU doing in your neighborhood to make a difference? Do you wish your neighborhood had a safety program? We would love to hear from you! Thanks to all who are helping to reach our goal of making Austin the safest city in the nation.
Mary Arnett Laura DiCarlo Jack Darby Lori C-Renteria Mary Rudig
CLASP Steering Committee
|Neighborhoods in Attendance at CLASP Meetings
Allandale NA Mueller NA
Angus Valley NA North Austin Civic Association
Balcones Civic Assn North Park Estates
Barton Hills NA North Shoal Creek NA
Bouldin Creek NA Pioneer Crossing West
Old West Austin NA Quail Creek NA
Brentwood NA Ridgetop NA
Castlewood – Oak Valley River City NA
Cherrywood NA Rosedale NA
Dawson NA Southwood NA
Del Valle Community Coalition South River City Citizens NA
Delwood II Montopolis NA
Downtown Alliance NA Sunridge NA
East Cesar Chavez Planning Team Travis Heights NA
Fifth Street Community University Hills NA
Govalle NA Windsor Hills NA
Gracywoods NA Windsor Park NA
Highland NA Wooten NA
Highland Park West Balcones Area NA Zilker NA
Guadalupe NA Hyde Park NA
Lakewood NA Mount Bonnell
|Special Thanks To The Greater Austin Crime Commission
|There is a quiet but strong organization that exists in Austin in support of Public Safety formed in 1997…The Greater Austin Crime Commission. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for programs and special equipment and tools for law enforcement for the past 13 years.
CLASP wishes to thank The Greater Austin Crime Commission for their support of our organization, their sponsorship of our last event and we look forward to a stronger partnership in the future.
|Upcoming Commanders Forums! Help Get the Word Out!
Did you know that so far, in our CLASP survey, 80%+ of neighborhood respondents say they have not attended a Commanders Forum in more than a year. Many comments indicate lack of awareness or not knowing dates/times. Typically, people who develop a relationship with the police department through positive interactions such as Commanders Forums have a better understanding of the inner workings of the police department and a positive outlook on addressing crime in their neighborhoods.
Please help by placing the date, time, place on your neighborhood email listserv. Help promote these important meetings that are held for the community to learn what APD is doing in your area and to air your concerns.
Click Here for a link to the Commanders Forum page on the APD Website
Not sure about your sector? The agenda? How to promote this event to your neighborhood?
Click Here for a link to the District Representative phone numbers on the APD Website
Safe Routes To School Coalition Meeting
Tuesday, October 26th Contact [email protected]
9:00am Houston Elementary
Hear about the Bikes for Kids bike-giveaway program coming up in December, a November clean-up effort for our south SRTS schools, and Walking School Bus training.
Block Captain and Patrol Training – hosted by Laura DiCarlo [email protected]
Tuesday, October 26th in Allandale
7:15 pm for Block Captains 8:15pm for Patrols
Usually, your initial block captain/ patrol training is done in conjunction with your district rep in your own neighborhood. But what to do about all the other block captains or patrolers who sign up after that? Laura has generously donated her time to offering a class once a month. Several neighborhoods have taken advantage of this.
How to be a Neighborhood Crime Analyst – presented by Jack Darby [email protected]
Saturday, October 30th
11a – 1p at Carver Branch Library 1161 Angelina in East Austin)
Topics to be discussed
- APD Crime Analyst vs Neighborhood Crime Analyst (NCA)
- What is the role of the NCA?
- How to partner with APD?
- How to find hot spots in your neighborhood?
- How to find frequent offenders?
- What is your neighborhood’s crime signature?
- How does your neighborhood rank for a given crime?
From Chaos to Collaboration: Raising the Bar in Public Engagement –
Presented by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation
Friday, November 5th Contact [email protected]
9am-5pm at St Edwards University
Here’s something we all can use – less chaos, more collaboration. Sponsored by the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, this full-day workshop offers in-depth discussions and the practical strategies to make public engagement more productive. . . and dare we say it, less crazy-making? Sgt Rod Reyna from Precinct 2 will be one of the facilitators.
Register by clicking here
Landlord Training – the C.A.S.H. Program – presented by Mary Rudig [email protected]
Wednesday, November 17th
7pm to 8:15pm at Capital Lodge #23 6809 Guadalupe (one block N of Airport Blvd)
Crime-free, Attractive Safe Housing (CASH)
This is about the “absentee landlord” conundrum that results in blighted properties and no one around to take responsibility. After spending a good amount of volunteer and Code Enforcement hours cleaning and re-cleaning properties of trash and filth, Mary has devised a set of guidelines to be adopted by landlords voluntarily.
- Reduces crime and increases property value on rental property.
- Quick and easy
- Click here for the THREE things Landlords need to do and FIVE things for property managers to do that keeps money in their pockets in the long run by avoiding tenant problems and depressed property values, and demonstrates how to build a cooperative relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods.
|What You Can Expect From CLASP In The Future
|Our Steering Committee held a series of planning meetings over the last two months to determine the direction of CLASP which was established last January. Several very active neighborhood leaders across the city participated: Dolly Ensey (Cherrywood), Madge Whistler (5th St Community), and John Luther (Barton Hills) along with retired APD Lt. Randy Pasley, former Weed and Seed Coordinator Peter Freeman, and Sgt. Rod Reyna of the Precinct 2 Constables Office and Roger Wines of the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT). We have been pleased by the level of participation and interest demonstrated at our meetings, through our on-going citywide survey, and through the networking where we share ideas and ask for advice.
The idea for this group sprang out of a krimelabb demo meetup last year. We realized that it would be a great thing to pull together people who work on safety issues in their neighborhoods all across Austin. We share similar challenges and experiences and feel energized by the efforts of our counterparts all across Austin.
Our main goal is to encourage the
establishment of Neighborhood Watch and Patrol activities and to help maintain that human infrastructure over time. To that end, we have several neighborhood leaders who have stepped forward to donate their time and expertise outside of their own neighborhood. If your group would like a presentation or consultation about starting up your neighborhood watch, re-invigorating the one you have or establishing a patrol program in your neighborhood, please contact us [email protected] Why re-invent the wheel? Have a seasoned watch leader show you the ropes of motivating and organizing your neighborhood.
Once your neighborhood has done their initial block captain training with an APD district rep, there are ongoing block captain training classes that are being offered by Laura DiCarlo of Allandale so that your new recruits can quickly get up and running. Mary Rudig of North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods can provide presentations about sustaining your neighborhood watch groups and working with APD on persistent problems. John Luther of Barton Hills has set up an excellent patrol program and has
mentored several other neighborhoods in establishing their own. Jack Darby of Cherrywood has done many demos of his krimelabb.com database and given suggestions for how to use crime information to gain insight into problems, track the ebb and flow of crime in your neighborhood and methods of researching other issues using public data.
We strongly believe that a Neighborhood Watch program can become the building block for all types of activities such as:
- A distribution and communication hub for flyers or emails
- Helping with communication or distribution of supplies In the event of a disaster.
- Neighborhoods who have Watches can respond more quickly to crime trends or threats.
- Neighborhood Patrols can perform other tasks that keep your neighborhood safe with activities such as code enforcement projects, gathering information about traffic and pedestrians, neighborhood cleanups . . .. . be creative with your volunteers!
All of us started with just one block captain or watch group. We, like you, continue to expand these throughout our entire neighborhood and use this organizational structure to build a sense of community.
We would like to hear about your program in your own neighborhood. We are always on the lookout for those special people who donate their time for these endeavors.
Please check out our website here: http://www.claspatx.com for documents and resources.
Let us know of any ideas or suggestions you have that would help you get your neighborhood up and running with a watch program. Share your tools and successes with other neighborhoods.
Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You!
The Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership Road Show!
|Is Your Neighborhood Represented In Our Survey??
|A few weeks ago we launched our city wide survey about public safety issues. So far, we have close to 500 responses. We would like to hear from all neighborhoods and all zip codes within the city, so please look this chart over (it is as of last week’s numbers) and if your neighborhood is not well represented by the number of responses, would you kindly help us out?
CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW MANY RESPONSES WE HAVE FROM YOUR ZIP CODE
Please take the link below and paste it into an original email from yourself to your neighborhood yahoo group or email list. This link takes you to the CLASP website survey page.
If you experience any issues with the survey itself, Mary Arnett would like to hear from you at [email protected]
We will be sharing the results after we close out the survey. It is hoped that we will undertake this survey again next year for a comparison of responses.
Thanks for any assistance you can give on getting this out in your neighborhood. This survey is designed to collect information and perceptions of the public regarding APD, their neighborhood safety programs, about attitudes towards crime prevention, and also about our city funding of public safety initiatives.
|Neighborhood Watch Idea Bank
|Laura DiCarlo is the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for Allandale. She has the highest number of block captains in the whole city – 95 and a platoon of Neighborhood Patrols totaling over 60. Allandale has had a number of successes in identifying suspects that were later caught, or having alert residents actually thwart a burglary in progress.
Here are her tips for recruitment and motivating those people to stay active with the program.
- Recruiting is the key. Set up a table outside voting stations on elections days and each time there is a neighborhood event for recruiting purposes. You will gradually grow your ranks.
- Obtain a map of your neighborhood with house numbers in a handy pdf file. Call the city GIS department and speak to Ross Clark 974-3241 or email him at [email protected] This will help you organize your residents and printing in large format, can also serve as a visual prop at meetings for mapping crime, showing coverage for block captains and other ideas.
- Advertise on the neighborhood listserv and in the newsletter
- Encourage participation by listing what streets are not yet covered by block captains- especially after a break-in on that street. People will perk up and realize what Neighborhood Watch is all about.
- Monitor Spotcrime.com to alert block captains of break-ins and follow up with krimelabb.com a couple days later to get all the details. Keep them informed so they can pass the info on. This strengthens your contact with people and they appreciate your efforts in doing so. Teach them to use these tools independently from you.
- Remind block captains that every new person to the block should be greeted and given a contact list and new resident flyer (see claspatx.org). This makes them feel welcomed and creates a safer environment. It can also set the tone for neighborhood norms.
- Create other mentors and coaches in your block captain ranks to help
- Persuade those who walk, run or bike for exercise in your neighborhood to do patrols for your neighborhood at the same time. All they need is a little training on what to watch for, how to call it in, and how to share it with the group.
- Link up with an elderly person who doesn’t get around much to go on patrol with you – It’s an extra set of eyes and they would love the conversation.
- Google has a simple spreadsheet function that anyone can handle. Have your volunteers use it to track suspicious activity and to sign up in time blocks for patrols.
- Include everyone in your base of volunteer assets. Custom bike patrol signs look good on the bike handlebars and also the backs of wheelchairs. Email Laura for information on Patrol signage at [email protected]
- Share your patrols signs among volunteers by setting up a sign-in system at a local grocery store or other business. HEB has done this for Allandale very successfully.
What? You’ve been so successful there’s no crime wave going on? Maintain interest
with educational activities such as a 10 minute CPR course taught by EMS. This course is designed to be taught in your neighborhood by experienced EMS personnel. The class is accessible to many people and does not require learning mouth to mouth resuscitation. Frank Urias of EMS states that in these types of emergencies, there is an 80% chance that it will involve someone you know as opposed to a total stranger. So you could save the life of your child, spouse, parent etc. Another astounding statistic: Austin has the highest number of CPR resuscitations in the nation – defined by the patient outcome of walking out of the hospital afterward. Contact Frank Urias of EMS for more information at [email protected]
|Know Before You Give
|The following is reprinted with permission from
The Austin Post (austinpost.org)
by Kari Meltzer
I visited Austin during college (a time when I was much less cynical) and was shopping on The Drag. A man approached me in front of Manju’s and asked for some change. I gave him about 50 cents. He shot me a dirty look and pressed me for more. Thankfully, the store manager came outside and told him to “Get away from my store and leave my customers alone.”
Perhaps that’s where the cynicism began. I haven’t given to a panhandler since that day, and I just read about a new local campaign called “Know Before You Give.” It encourages people to spend their money a little more wisely, say on local charities rather than someone who might just go spend it on booze or at least never feel the need to work or seek necessary medical help.
The organization is backed by some powerful local, state and national interest groups and non-profits: Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Old Pecan Street Association, ARCH/Front Steps, Caritas of Austin, Salvation Army, Texas Association of Realtors and many more.
Their website says, “social service agencies are able to understand and track the root causes – such as mental illness, disabilities, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and major life transitions – leading individuals to seek help. Giving directly to an a person who is panhandling bypasses social services ability to reach, track and address these root causes as well as basic needs.”
The plethora of panhandlers is one of the first things many people notice when they first arrive in Austin. The market for catchy signs, from witty to self-pity, is almost a business all on its own. While some Austinites freely hand out change, cigarettes and snacks to the panhandlers, others, like Know Before You Give, are looking for ways to decrease their presence in town.
We’ve all heard stories about someone offering a sandwich to a panhandler who looked disappointed and asked for money instead. I’m sure many people have more positive stories, but I feel panhandlers can be intimidating to pedestrians and distracting to drivers and cyclists (ahem, Riverside and I-35). I do understand that some circumstances, such as an exhorbitant medical bill, can quickly send someone on the path to homelessness. I have compassion for the homeless, just not panhandlers.
A 2009 study by the University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement says the chronically homeless population in Austin is about 919, with about 677 unsheltered and 242 sheltered. The number of homeless people with chronic substance abuse problems is around 875, and the number of homeless veterans is around 206. (You can read more about the study here.)
Austin is a rather sympathetic city with comparably good resources for the homeless, but news like the possible “no sitting and lying ordinance” shows that not everyone is comfortable with our homeless population. It seems Know Before You Give is aiming for a moderate stance – encouraging those who can afford to give to help people get back to work and find food, shelter and medical services.
To learn more, visit www.knowbeforeyougive.org.
|News From The Public Safety Commission Meetings
|The City of Austin Public Safety Commission is an advisory body to the city council on budgetary and policy matters concerning public safety related to the Austin Police Department, the Austin Fire Department, and the Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services Department. They make recommendations for long-range comprehensive planning initiatives, access to and expenditure of state and federal grant funds, and other public safety matters. Proceedings are recorded on Channel 6. They normally meet on the 1st Monday with future dates scheduled for Nov 1st, and Dec 6th from 4-6pm in the Boards and Commissions room. Check the city website for agendas and last minute changes. All are welcomed.
Click here to view summaries of the August 11th and September 13th Public Safety Meetings
Public Safety Commission Report to Council for October 2010 by Dr. Michael Lauderdale, Chair
The Public Safety Commission met on October 4, 2010 in the Boards and Commissions Meeting Room in City Hall. The Commission opened with the availability of time for members of the public to address the Commission on general issues and then moved to calendared items dealing with reports from the City Public Safety Departments, the APD-AISD Joint Task Force on Gangs and then up dates from expert opinion from the Austin Police Department and State and Federal Law Enforcement agencies.
Reports from City Public Safety Departments
Chief Carter provided an overview of activity for the three Departments. Prominent in the overview was a summary of coordinated efforts on the University of Texas at Austin’s experience with an “active shooter” on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Under very dangerous circumstances close cooperation with University, City, County, State and Federal public safety departments informed people, isolated the shooter and secured the Perry Castaneda Library. The shooter committed suicide and no other persons were shot during the incident. Cooperative efforts underway for many months including the development of the Austin Regional Intelligence Center support the conclusion that the City has increased its ability to coordinate and focus resources when such exceptional events occur. However, almost everyone involved acknowledged that this incident could have been far worse had the skills or intents of the “shooter” been different.
The Fire and Transportation continued progress reports to the Commission on signal pre-emption technology as well as efforts to identify critical intersections.
There was some important and disappointing news on resources. Chief Carter reported that the APD was not successful in securing 50 additional officers from the Federal COPS Program. He said that the determination of which cities received the assistance was based more upon economic need than other factors. He also reported that the Federal continuation of assistance for the civilian coordinator of the Joint Gang Task Force was turned down as well. Such decisions from the Federal government place increased pressure on local and state resources to meet rising needs for public safety.
Reports from the APD-AISD Joint Task Force on Gangs
This Task Force was created from meetings held in 2005 as a result of an after-school shooting of two Austin High Students exiting an AISD school bus in east Austin to their home neighborhood in the afternoon. One student was killed and one wounded. Findings during those Task Force meetings emphasized the need to have regular coordination between police from APD and AISD, a joint database, cooperative case finding and a prevention program. Work is in progress on the joint data base and improved case finding. A gang resistance educational program is operated at several schools with Federal funding. APD provided a report of gang activity to date as stops are made on streets and in the neighborhoods of the City. That report is attached as is one from AISD. Those data provide some detail of the full picture of gang involvement among adolescents in Austin and punctuate the continuing need for coordination between events occurring in the schools and related activities in the neighborhoods.
Reports from State and Federal Agencies on Organized Crime and Violence
The Commission heard in April of this year from Gregory Thrash, Resident Agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, Royce Curtin, Resident Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Tom Ruocco, Head of Criminal Investigations for the Texas Department of Public Safety. The April 2010 presentation provided information about the presence of organized crime groups in central Texas with connections to Mexican cartels and concluded with the observation that Austin was developing into a secondary organized crime resource for command and control and as a staging and distribution center into the United States. All three were invited to return this fall and came to the October meeting.
The presentations at the October meeting were very sobering and indicated a furthering of those problems in Austin but more evident was the impact of the deterioration of Mexican government control in many areas of that country and increased organized violence in nearby cities to Texas such as Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Monterrey and the propagation of that violence into Texas. Clearly Austin is being affected increasingly by problems throughout Mexico and on the border. Even more now than in April, this testimony bears grave importance for Austin. The Commission will follow these developments and will ask these three experts to return in April of 2011 to follow these matters and their implication for Austin.
Austin is experiencing year-on-year increases in violent crimes including murders, bank robberies, home invasions, burglaries, gang activity, traffic fatalities and high speed auto pursuits comparing 2009 to 2010 As an example the City has recorded 26 murders by the end of September 2010 as compared to 17 by September 2009. To some degree rising crime is a function of depressed economic conditions with statewide unemployment running above 9 percent and thus, likely greater than Austin has faced in many years. Unemployment is far higher among youth and even more with minority youth.
To a degree some crime may be propagated by the media. Media exposure and importantly non-commercial media such as internet videos and social networking sites increase awareness of crimes and may serve as well to connect and promote criminal connections. There is some reason as an example to believe that beheadings first seen from wars in the Middle East were picked up by cartel groups in Mexico as a form of psychological warfare. There are positive and negative benefits as many contend that while cartel action has suppressed traditional print and electronic media reporting on crime in Mexico that only venues such as Twitter, Facebook and personal websites provide outlets for events occurring in Mexico.
The City has sought to respond to demands for public safety with increasing the number of officers and adding capital items to improve application of all public safety resources. Hoped for Federal assistance has to date not been forthcoming as noted most importantly in the decision not to award COPS funding to Austin. Chief Acevedo has begun upgrading video equipment in all patrol cars to automatically provide digital footage at stops. More fire and EMS equipment and personnel have been added. Cameras have been added to specific high crime areas. APD has noted that it has two aging helicopters and Chief Acevedo has called upon Federal resources to assist in replacing those with three new helicopters. Traffic problems are significant in Austin and the Police Chief has called for procedures and legislation to increase apprehension of intoxicated drivers. The Public Safety Commission recognizes both the need for a variety of additional resources such as these but also the fact that Austin and the State of Texas continue in an economic decline with employment rates, sales tax receipts and property values far less favorable than at any time in the last two decades.
With current restrictions on available resources from revenue sources as well as Federal and state grants, capital outlays and staffing increases must be carefully examined and choices made among strategic alternatives. Data and testimony support the conclusion that Austin is dealing with qualitative and quantitative increases in crime. The question is
· what can Austin afford today,
· what costs should we obligate into the future and
· what are the best strategic alternatives as we weigh advising more officers, or staff or equipment acquisitions.
Such strategic and tactical considerations across all demand areas of public safety are continuing topics of the Public Safety Commission and its efforts to provide recommendations to the City Council.
|Feel free to help us spread the word! Place this link on your listserv for others to hear about CLASP
This organization is all about you and your efforts to make your neighborhood a safer place. Our success will be measured by your continued interest in networking with others throughout the city . We would love to hear from you for suggestions on speakers or future topics of interest. We also hope you will continue to share your challenges and successes with like minded volunteers across Austin. This is the partnership we wish to forge and you can help us reach our goal to make Austin neighborhoods the safest in the nation.
The Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership is a non-partisan group dedicated to encouraging and sustaining a county wide network of Neighborhood Watch leaders who share best practices, provide opportunities for skill building, and foster collaborative relationships with law enforcement and criminal justice professionals in an effort to develop a model of citizen led community policing initiatives.