Mobile resource trailer

The Madison Police Department's new mobile resource trailer was purchased with federal grant funds and can be used by community groups, neighborhood associations and mobile doctors and dentists, for example. 

PHOTO BY ABIGAIL BECKER

With the acceptance of an $850,000 federal grant, the Madison Police Department and partners like Common Wealth Development can start implementing a crime reduction plan for Madison’s Raymond Road corridor.

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the MPD the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Implementation grant for a multi-step plan developed in collaboration with Common Wealth Development, researcher Jeffrey Lewis and neighbors to build community cohesion and reduce crime in the area.

“This is one of the few steps in enhancing the work that is already occurring in Meadowood, Prairie Hills, Park Edge/ Park Ridge neighborhoods," project manager Stephanie Bradley Wilson said. “Long-term sustainability of funding and the involvement of many diverse neighbors and ongoing political support is what is required to make our neighborhoods safe and beautiful places within the city of Madison.”

In November 2015, the Madison City Council accepted a $155,522 Department of Justice planning grant for the corridor, making the city eligible for the additional funding. The initial funding allowed the planning team to create its strategy called “Southwest Madison, A Safe and Beautiful Place,” which can now be implemented.

With input from neighborhood residents, the planning team used part of the initial funding to purchase a mobile resource trailer. The trailer could be used by other community groups, neighborhood associations, mobile doctors and dentists, and the police department.

“One of the needs identified by residents was a method to facility community gatherings where resources could be brought together with our neighbors,” Bradley Wilson said.

The trailer made its debut Wednesday at a Read on Raymond Road event where children could pick a donated book from the Madison Public Library and read to a police officer.

“Now we will be able to get very constructive programing in place to fit a lot of needs here for the residents,” Chief Mike Koval said.

The second grant will go toward implementing the following:

  • Safe Passages, through which we will recruit committed adults and provide them training in observation, effective presence, communication, and de-escalation skills needed to provide guardianship for the high volume of teenagers and young adults who walk and congregate in our hotspot areas
  • Mentoring, to address the need for respectful relationships and positive role modeling between middle and high school youth and adult males
  • Support for parents, to improve parenting skills and offer support to struggling parents in the neighborhood, as well as improve conflict management skills in the neighborhood
  • Community policing, a well-established approach within the Madison Police Department, which we will build upon to enhance trust and communication
  • Landlord/tenant forum to address/prevent evictions and high mobility which is one of the causes of low social cohesion
  • Increasing youth development programs and creating a youth advisory committee to assist us in identifying and advocating for needed programs
  • Lead a community-driven process to determine exact unmet needs and desired programming to help address them

The grant funds address crime and its socio-economic drivers within the corridor bounded by Schroeder Road on the north, South Whitney Way on the east, Putnam Road and Williamsburg Way to the south and McKenna Boulevard on the west. Grant partners, including the city’s Community Development Division, will focus on Meadowood, Theresa Terrace and Park Edge/ Park Ridge neighborhoods.

Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes said the grant comes at a critical time as the city is working to reduce crime and improve community safety. She also said the grant aligns with Mayor Paul Soglin’s placemaking proposal, which would identify and train neighborhood leaders.

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“The mayor is committed to ensuring that our community is empowered to make decisions that impact them directly,” Reyes said. “We need to ensure that we are investing equitably in our neighborhoods so they become the places that enable our children and families to succeed and thrive.”

The City Council will debate the mayor’s placemaking proposal for a second time at its meeting Tuesday.

Keeping the community involved is a key component of the initiative’s success, said Ald. Matt Phair, District 20.

“This really is about the people who live here, the people who want to see their neighborhood become better,” Phair said.

Tutankhamun “Coach” Assad, founder of the Mellowhood Foundation, underscored Phair’s message of keeping neighborhood residents as the focus of the initiative.

“When this is over and we drive away, let’s make sure we have impacted, in a positive way, the people who live here,” Assad said.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.