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Successful Community Problem Solving

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Essay title: Successful Community Problem Solving

Successful Community Problem Solving

In the mid-1990s, the city of Anaheim, California, experienced a tremendous problem with gangs, drug dealers, and criminals preying on a small apartment community in the city; someone got shot, stabbed, or robbed on a daily basis. Narcotics sales climbed while new graffiti continued to appear each day as well. To fight the increasing problem, the Anaheim Police Department assigned six community policing officers and a sergeant to the neighborhood to improve conditions. Using conventional enforcement methods, the officers arrested 30 to 40 individuals in the neighborhood each month. This strategy continued for a year until the department agreed that enforcement efforts did not have any impact on reducing crime in the neighborhood; these illicit activities remained unchecked (Mueller III, 2006).

Realizing that they could not clean up the neighborhood on their own, Anaheim police solicited help from other city departments (community preservation, public works, utilities, and the city attorney's office) and the community to develop a strategy (Mueller III, 2006). Within a year, the city established a successful plan which decreased neighborhood crime by almost 80 percent. The majority of the efforts for this reduction did not come from law enforcement but from other city departments and the community. For instance, members from both public works and utilities created "no parking" areas on the streets, repaved roads and alleyways, and increased lighting. In addition, the Community Preservation Department strictly enforced code violations, and the neighborhood began cleanups and celebrations (Mueller III, 2006). The feeling of pride, in their community, became contagious, and everyone wanted to take part in improving the area. However, joint efforts with police departments and outside agencies do encounter obstacles.

Many jurisdictions in California have related success stories, like those in Anaheim; where the police have worked closely with other city departments and the community to improve the quality of life. However, these groups, typically, only come together when a major problem or crisis occurs. They usually do not work together on a regular basis to deal with small issues. This overall lack of coordination, planning, and consensus among all city departments and the community produces duplication of effort and an individual pursuit of each group's own objectives (Coles et al., 2001). There also is a tendency to pass a problem on to another city agency. For example, many people believe that it is the responsibility of the police to fight crime, and would say it is not everyone's obligation. Mutual responsibility

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