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Public Safety Taskforce Receives Massive Grant From U.S. Department of Justice

10/4/2018, 11:06 a.m. | Updated on 10/4/2018, 11:06 a.m.
The Englewood Public Safety Taskforce recently announced that they were awarded a $953,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice ...
The Englewood Public Saftey Task Force was formed as part of the Englewood Quality of Life Plan and recently received a grant to help further unify the residents, business owners, stakeholders, and police officers in the community to create a more safe and peaceful neighborhood. Photo Credit: Tonika Johnson

Public Safety Taskforce Receives Massive Grant From U.S. Department of Justice

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

The Englewood Public Safety Taskforce recently announced that they were awarded a $953,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The grant will be dispersed over three years and will assist with researching and creating a crime prevention strategy in the

community.

The Englewood Public Safety Taskforce is one of five task forces that were organized by the Englewood Quality of Life Plan which was originally created in 2005 and then updated in 2016 to meet and address the issues that were deemed most important by the community. The Englewood Quality of

Life Plan brings together residents, business owners, public officials, community stakeholders, and community organizations like The Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE) and Teamwork Englewood who will help to lead the Englewood Quality of Life Plan.

“There are aspects of the grant that include the police department, research from Northeastern Illinois University, RAGE will be working as the community engagement arm, and then there will also be a staff person who will be coordinating these efforts with us,” said Asiaha Butler, President of RAGE.

The community research provided by the grant will involve looking at data from local law enforcement, pinpointing the areas that are more likely to have a crime occur, learning what in that area is making crime possible, and addressing it.

“If you think about it, certain environments allow crime to happen,” said Butler. “If our street lights are off or if there are vacant lots that are being used for drug stashes or if there are abandoned homes on the block, it’s more likely that crime could occur. We will be examining, based on the police beats, what is happening in these high-crime areas that are catering to criminal activity and then looking at how we can change that.”

This is something that Butler has experience in already. She recently purchased a vacant lot on her own block and transformed it into a community meeting space.

“We did this in a smaller scale on my block and just basically took over the block. We took over my vacant lot that I bought for $1 and we brought some pizza and video game busses and people were like ‘Oh, I can’t really shoot right now, I can’t pull out my gun,’ because there were kids there,” said Butler.

Now, the task at hand is to learn how to do this in a more sustainable way that could create peace throughout the community. Butler is hoping that the work they are able to do with this grant will provide incentive for more investment into violence prevention initiatives in Englewood.

“This is a huge win for Englewood,” said Butler. “I think this is a going to be a springboard for additional resources and support. This is a great start and now our public officials will want to find out how to continue this work. It’s exciting.”