Community Health and Safety Award, Populations Greater Than 50,000: Little Rock, Arkansas

Public Management, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Community Health and Safety Award, Populations Greater Than 50,000: Little Rock, Arkansas


This year, ICMA presents two Community Health and Safety Awards in the 50,000-and-greater population category. The first goes to the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, and City Manager Bruce T. Moore for the Criminal Abatement Program.

The city of Little Rock, Arkansas, was receiving frequent complaints from residents over nuisance problems--mainly, code enforcement and minor crime issues. But although a large number of complaints were coming from concentrated areas, each city department worked separately without coordinating efforts. In 2004, under the leadership of City Manager Bruce Moore, the city responded to this problem with the Criminal Abatement Program (CAP), a focused nuisance abatement program developed to help create safer neighborhoods for Little Rock's residents.

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Through CAP, city departments work together to concentrate their manpower and resources in targeted areas. First, the mayor and city manager identify a target area and tour it with staff. Next, each department conducts a coordinated sweep of the area. The unified team of key departmental staff is given the authority to abate, board, secure, and prosecute targeted properties. The full sweep and abatement process, which takes about six months, is completed in four phases:

* Phase I (three to four weeks): The Little Rock police department's Special Investigations Division gathers intelligence about activities in the area, and the department then works with the SWAT division to make arrests.

* Phase II (three to four weeks): The code enforcement department inspects residential and business buildings for interior and exterior code violations; the building codes department inspects the area and removes any condemned commercial structures; public works does intensive street sweeping, some pickup, pothole patching, and ditch maintenance; and animal services inspects the area for violations. In all cases, staff work with property owners, allowing them ample time to get into compliance and fix violations.

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* Phase III (two to three weeks): Following up from the previous two phases, the departments complete any necessary reinspections, and the police department continues its targeted patrol of the area.

* Phase IV (30 days): The city attorney's office prosecutes violators who have not come into compliance for code violations.

After all phases of the program are completed, staff and political leaders tour the original area again to observe the progress. …

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