FLINT, MI — The city announced Monday, Nov. 16, that it will use more than $1 million in grants from the Ruth Mott Foundation to help improve the quality of life for north Flint residents.
Thanks to two grants from the foundation totaling $1,407,107, the city will implement new methods to combat crime and improve the look of the area in two plans called North End Community Crime Strategy and Imagine Flint Neighborhood Planning Initiative.
“Historically, this area has seen neighborhoods fractured from the loss of businesses and jobs from manufacturing, increases in crime and the abandonment of much of the housing stock,” said Mayor Karen Weaver, who took office Nov. 9.
The Flint Police Foundation secured the $1,087,107 grant for the Flint Police Department to implement its North End Community Crime Strategy, which will give officers state-of-the-art crime analysis technology and communication software, and will allow police to implement more community policing plans.
“We were able to secure a grant that will, for the next three years, allow us to look at true community policing,” said Chief James Tolbert.
Tolbert said the plan involves opening service centers in north Flint wards that serve as hubs for programs such as the Blue Badge Volunteer Corps and the Citizens Radio Patrol, which they hope to expand with the new funds.
It will also bring Street Smart Software, allowing officers to share information, like photos of suspects, amongst each other in real-time, while still on scene of a crime. Tolbert said the department is also “talking about hiring people to do crime analysis,” with new software that will allow them to analyze crime statistics from inside the department, as well as from the community.
“The two main components to making this strategy work are acquiring good data and having the buy in from the community,” Tolbert said. “When you can share data on crime trends with community members, they have a better understanding of the overall patterns of crime in their areas and see what is working to deter it and what is not.”
The money will be distributed over the course of three years, with the department receiving $296,000 the first year, $377,000 the second year and nearly $400,000 the third year.
The city also received $320,000 for the Imagine Flint Neighborhood Planning Initiative, which received an excellence in planning award from the Michigan Association of Planners, the city announced Monday. It is designed to help neighborhoods create strategies to address degradation and restore vibrancy – all part of city’s master plan.
The goal of the initiative is to develop four neighborhood plans over the course of the grant cycle, which runs from Dec. 1, 2015, to Nov. 30, 2017, encouraging resident participation in the planning and implementation of neighborhood revitalization plans.
“Knowing what challenges their particular areas face and sharing in a common vision of what can be done to improve them will help create sustainable change that is led by the residents themselves,” a press release from the city reads.
City Administrator Natasha Henderson said the plan will allow residents and business owners the opportunity to have input in the shaping of their community space.
“The Imagine Flint neighborhood planning initiative will further the spirit of cooperation in the community by giving neighborhood members the chance to decide what their areas should look like in the future,” she said. “The north end community crime strategy will bring community policing back to that area of the city.”