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Little Rock, AR: Making Neighborhoods Safer

Cities depend on the local government to keep crime at bay. But Life Run Well magazine reports, “Little Rock, AR, was inundated with complaints from residents about nuisance problems—primarily code enforcement and minor crime issues. In 2004, under the leadership of City Manager Bruce Moore, the city responded to this problem with the Criminal Abatement Program (CAP).”

Moore required city departments to work together to concentrate their manpower and resources in targeted areas – a new approach to city management. Moore told me during GovLoop’s State and Local spotlight interview that now, 10 years later, he still holds a meeting every two weeks with various departments to talk about the status of the CAP.

Little Rock is roughly 120 square miles and has a population of just over 200,000. In order to keep order, Moore brings together all the law and enforcement agencies together under one roof.

“Every two weeks, we bring together the Police Department, the Housing Department, the Fire Department and Public Works,” Moore said. “We go through a list of problem addresses or locations that we’ve been made aware of through citizen contact or through city council contact. From that meeting we determine whether or not we need to move forward with legal action.”

In addition to the abatement program, Little Rock also employs 13 alert centers across the city to keep it safe. “These alert centers are basically neighborhood advocates,” explained Moore. “We want to interact with our citizenry on a daily basis to begin to address concerns.”

Moore is focused not only on protecting and improving the city, but also with keeping in close contact with the residents. He found that connecting to the younger populations means using technology, so he created an app that allows citizens to report on everything “from high grass to potholes.”

To grow the engagement both on the app and in the alert centers, Moore also launched a targeted social media campaign – but Moore still relies on more traditional modes of communication, too. “We also do a neighborhood newsletter once a month to let the neighborhoods know what’s going on in the city and in their alert center.”

The alert centers and the CAP are making a difference. In three years:

  • Fire code violations in more than 500 structures were remedied
  • More than 20,000 additional garbage/waste pickups were made
  • More than 30 commercial business were cited and either brought up to code or closed down
  • More than 2,500 notices and citations were issued, and approximately 2,100 properties were brought into compliance

Moore says his success comes from a unified approach to problem solving. “We’ve got five or six major departments of the city, sitting around the table every two weeks. It takes all of those around the table to work together as a team to address these issues. It’s really been a very successful model.”

Moore is a Little Rock government staple. He started as an intern in 1994 and has served as the City Manager for the past 12 years. “Public service really boils down to being able to positively impact people’s lives on a daily basis, whether it’s an email about a pothole or an individual’s cars, or high grass in the neighborhoods,” said Moore. I really do enjoy local government.”

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