Coming Soon: Meetings on Community Policing and Quality of Life Issues
Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, is hosting two meetings on community policing and quality of life issues. The first will take place at Seaford Library (2234 Jackson Avenue, Seaford) on Wednesday, Oct. 16; the second, at Bellmore Library (2288 Bedford Avenue, Bellmore) on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Jerry Brown vetoes public safety death benefits bill
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have extended the statute of limitations for survivors of public safety officers to file a workers' compensation claim for death benefits.
Assembly Bill 1373, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would have extended the time limits for survivors' claims for injuries while on duty to 480 weeks from 240 weeks in cases involving cancer, tuberculosis or blood-borne infections diseases.
Brown vetoed a broader version of the bill last year, and in vetoing an unrelated bill Saturday regarding the timeliness of sex abuse victims' claims, the Democratic governor delivered a virtual treatise on the significance of statutes of limitation.
In his veto message, Brown said the measure is "identical to the one I vetoed last year."
"At that time, I outlined the information needed to properly evaluate the implications of this bill," he wrote. "I have not yet received that information."
In his veto a year ago of Assembly Bill 2451, Brown said there was "little more than anecdotal evidence" available to determine how to balance "serious fiscal constraints faced at all levels of government against our shared priority to adequately and fairly compensate the families of those public safety heroes who succumb to work-related injuries and disease."
This year's bill was backed by labor unions representing firefighters and law enforcement officers, who argued existing law fails to provide for the families of firefighters or law enforcement officers who die from a work-related disease more than five years after being diagnosed.
Opponents included the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. They argued the bill would increase local government costs by millions of dollars.
Clarksville tries to keep New Providence policing center open
Multipurpose center could be shut down if federal grant not renewed
by Lester Black
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — There's almost always a police car parked in front of the New Providence Community Police Center, and there is of course “policing” in its title, but you'd be mistaken to think that the center is just another police precinct.
For more than two years now, the 640 Providence Blvd. building, stationed squarely in the middle of Clarksville's poorest neighborhood, has delivered a range of services to help area residents.
From adult educational programs to career services and even targeting the physical blight in the area, the policing center and the services that go along with it are a one-stop shop for trying to turn around the community.
But those services may soon come to an end if the city isn't awarded a renewal of the federal grant that funds the center. If the grant is not renewed, and the city doesn't fork over the money itself, the center will close in October of 2014.
The Clarksville Police Department hasn't heard back from the federal government on the grant application.
“We had hoped to know something by Oct. 1 (the start of the new federal fiscal year), but between sequestration a few months ago and the current shutdown, we don't know when we will find out the answer or what the answer will be,” Lt. Steve Warren said in an e-mail.
The roots of Clarksville's history lie on a hill overlooking the Red and Cumberland rivers, where New Providence now sits. It was called Cumberland City in the 1700s, and is where the Civil War-era Fort Defiance is located. But even though it is chock-full of history, New Providence wasn't officially annexed by the incorporated town of Clarksville until 1965.
And despite a busy thoroughfare and a location just minutes from downtown, New Providence is one of the most dangerous parts of the city.
Compared to the city's average, homicides are eight times more likely, kidnapping is five times more likely, aggravated assault is six times more likely, and drug and weapons violations are nine times more likely in New Providence, according to CPD figures.
It's a tough stat sheet for the 1.8-square mile community, but CPD hopes they can continue to reduce crime by keeping the policing center open.
In February they applied for another $600,000 in grant funds, paid out in yearly, $200,000 increments, according to Warren. If they successfully grab that grant they'll be able to keep the center's doors open until October of 2017. If they don't, the center's doors will close – unless the city intervenes – in October of 2014.
“The New Providence Community Policing Center has been a great success, and we are hopeful that the city will receive the grant funds,” McMillan said in an e-mailed statement.
“It's important because it encourages officers stationed there to really engage with the public, and it offers a place for residents to access much-needed resources as they look for jobs and training.”
McMillan did not comment on whether she would prioritize funding for the center in the event the city does not win the grant.
CPD Police Chief Al Ansley was not available for comment for this story.
CPD is required to produce quarterly crime stats for the New Providence area as a way of tracking how crime is responding to the center's presence.
It's always tough to make a direct correlation between causes and effects in crime statistics, but the crime stats surrounding the policing center are especially tough to make sense of.
The total offenses tracked by the grant increased dramatically in the first three quarters that the center existed, jumping from 69 total offenses in the last quarter of 2011 to 145 and 143 in the first two quarters of 2012.
Those numbers dropped off in the second half of 2012, climbed back up in 2013, and then dropped off again to 54 total offenses in the third quarter of 2013 – seven more than the total before the center was created.
New Providence's crime statistics may paint a blurry picture, but it's very clear the center is having an impact on real people.
Goodwill Career Solutions works with about 200 people a month to help improve business skills like writing resumes, dressing for success, computers skills, interviewing skills and where to apply for jobs, according to George Carlson, manager for Goodwill's centers in the 48 counties of Middle Tennessee.
“Our goal is to help people get back to work and to make a safe community environment, and we do that by hosting various events,” Carlson said.
Carlson said 21 people found employment through the center in August, a number he says is pretty typical for the Providence Boulevard location.
Goodwill has two other career service locations in Clarksville, one on Fort Campbell and one on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard, but Carlson said having a location within walking distance of some of the city's poorest residents has helped immensely.
“That center is within walking distance of everybody, and that's been a huge help,” Carlson said.
It has also been helpful to have Goodwill's career services offered in a center with other organizations, like the Adult Literacy Council, Carlson said.
“With the partners we have at the center, they work together to make a big difference,” Carlson said. “It's really been a great fit for us and a great fit for the community, and we're definitely proud about being in there and what we've done.”
The New Providence Community Police Center doesn't just focus on improving people's lives – the project also looks at improving the properties surrounding the neighborhood. Brigitte Pagastathis, a Building & Codes supervisor responsible for the area, said the high rate of rental properties makes it hard to keep properties in good shape.
But Pagastathis and the code enforcers who are assigned to the area work to report violations and then make sure they're rectified.
“She's looking for any basic kind of complaint, to houses that are in deplorable condition. Anything that can help the community better come together,” Papastathis said. “We've had a lot of good feedback out of the program from the police department.”
It's the enforcement that happens in other parts of the city, but instead of Building & Codes working entirely independently, they report back to the officers running the center.
It's yet another example of how the New Providence Community Policing Center takes a collective approach to solving the neighborhood's problems.
The center is an acknowledgment that a neighborhood isn't likely to be lifted up by handcuffs alone. CPD thinks the collective work of the enter will eventually change the neighborhood – if they can keep the doors open.