EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSEffort Announced To Reduce Drug And Related Violent Crimes On Charleston's West Side
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Sep. 17, 2013 11:32 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A joint initiative between the Charleston Police Department, city of Charleston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other committed cross-sector partners is under way to reduce drug and related violent crimes on Charleston’s West Side.
The program is part of the Drug Market Intervention “Second Chance” project that will empower area residents to take back their neighborhood, end the drug market and improve their quality of life, according to a news release from the Charleston Police Department.
Police said the goal is to prosecute and remove violent drug offenders off the street, while giving non-violent offenders a second chance.
“This is a nontraditional law enforcement technique in an effort to make the West Side and Charleston as a whole a better place to live, Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said. “It worked in Huntington and it will work here.”
To assist in identifying issues and strengthen planning efforts, residents, business owners and employees on the West Side are being asked to take part in a community survey.
The anonymous survey will collect data pertaining to the community’s needs and concerns. The survey is available in paper format or online by visiting here
The Office of Research and Strategic Planning (ORSP) within the Division of Justice and Community Services is the research partner for the project and has the task of conducting data analysis to inform the project activities and target zone and evaluating the impact of the project in regards to crime reduction in the target areas.
Police said the DMI project has already seen positive results. A dedicated steering committee and more than 20 local, state and federal organizations are serving as advocates for this initiative, committed to making the project successful. A Charleston-based firm, Kingery and Company is expertly facilitating the community revitalization project.
Charleston’s Mayor, Danny Jones thanked the U.S. attorney and his office for “helping our city begin the DMI program along with several others involved in law enforcement and criminal justice who worked with us on the initial introduction of it. I am also grateful for the many community partners who are involved now as we build on the foundation we've made and take the program to the next level."
This community-oriented strategy is one of 15 nationwide to receive grant awards from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance that will change neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity.
The Rev. James Ealy, a steering committee member, also spoke highly of the program.
“This community-based program is absolutely necessary and I’m excited about where it can and will go,” Ealy said. “Life is all about second chances and this program provides just that.”
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