Department of Justice awards Salisbury $800,000 for West End solutions
Salisbury Police, in collaboration with the city’s Parks and Recreation and Planning Departments, will receive nearly $1 million from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for crime prevention, recreational and public space development and youth programs in the West End. City Council is expected to adopt a budget ordinance at today’s meeting to accept the $800,000 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program Grant.
Titled, the West End Salisbury Transformed Empowered Neighborhood Development (WEST END), the grant project seeks to use community-led initiatives to help revitalize the 1.21-square mile neighborhood and address its crime concerns. A majority of the programs will be data-driven and their results reported to the DOJ per grant requirements.
Specific plans include:
• Appoint a project coordinator to guide and organize activities
• Develop West End community group to lead community-based responses
• Complete neighborhood survey
• Enhance recreational and public spaces at Hall Gym and the Miller Center
• Develop a Community Violence Intervention Team
• Restore vacant lots and structures where possible
Long-plagued by economic, criminal and housing standard challenges, the West End is considered a “persistent-poverty area,” with one half of the neighborhood reporting 36 percent and the other half reporting 23 percent living in poverty.
“We are relieved that we are able to secure this grant as an extension of the work we started with DOJ under the National Public Safety Partnership and, as the grant states, it is intended to apply innovative efforts or principles never before used to reduce crime in this area,” said Police Chief Jerry Stokes. “In the past, the efforts to address crime in the West End was a law enforcement-focused effort. Now, partnering with parks and recreation and community planning, this grant will provide guidance from DOJ to find means we haven't tried before to reduce crime through partnerships while building the neighborhoods in the West End.”
“This grant will provide a collaborative ‘all-hands’ approach with the West End community, parks and recreation, community planning and Salisbury Police curbing endemic crime,” Dr. Roy Dennis, Pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church and a Chief’s Advisory Council member. “These resources will provide an uplift to a community where social problems like poverty and a lack of opportunity have preceded to tragic circumstances in which systemic violence can easily take root. We are excited that the community opportunity has been recognized and the resources made available to support the West End Community.”
Funds are expected to be distributed by the DOJ in a few months. Programming will begin shortly thereafter.