An $800,000 federal grant will help Johnson City implement a strategic plan to reduce crime, revitalize neighborhoods and keep kids out of trouble, according to Police Chief Mark Sirois and the new planning director.
“It’s going to effect a change in our community,” said Becky Haas, director of the Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project. “The approach of this grant is to unite the skills and expertise of community partners who, by working together, reduce drug and alcohol-related crimes in the targeted area.”
Sirois said Johnson City was approached by the Office of Criminal Justice Programs about applying for the grant and will join five other communities in Tennessee to implement the plan.
“TCCRP is similar in concept to the Weed and Seed that we had for four years. It is more targeted (and) has four prongs,” Sirois said.
Instead of such a large community that Weed and Seed included, which was named Central City, this new program pulls in the boundaries to two more focused areas. The designated locations are the downtown area and the Mountain Home neighborhood area, Sirois said.
“The idea is that whereas we had such a large community in Central City for Weed and Seed, we have two targeted areas. You look at your violent crime — robbery, aggravated assault, rape, homicides — and your drug-related crime, primarily,” he said.
The program has four prongs — pre-enforcement, which focuses on at-risk youths and residents and businesses in the target area; neighborhood revitalization, a way to eliminate trash, graffiti and improve housing and commercial properties in poor condition; enforcement, which impacts juveniles and adults to control drug and alcohol offenses, domestic violence crimes, prostitution and aggravated assault; and offender intervention. That’s a way to work with probationers and parolees to reduce recidivism rates.
“The level of cooperation across disciplines is truly remarkable,” Sirois said. “We are grateful to city administration and the Board of Commissioners for recognizing the value of the TCCRP and for fully supporting this evidence-based effort.”
Partners involved in the program include Johnson City Development Services, Moral Kombat, Johnson City Housing Authority, Keep Johnson City Beautiful, Families Free, Foundations for Life Principles, First Tennessee Human Resources Agency, Johnson City Juvenile Court and the Tennessee Department of Correction.
“It’s exciting at our partner meetings to see previously unrelated agency representatives exchanging business cards as they identify new ways they can work together for the improvement of Johnson City,” Haas said.