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Battle Creek Police receive grant to help fix neighborhood issues

Battle Creek Police receive grant to help fix neighborhood issues. (Map courtesy: BCPD)

The U.S. Department of Justice picked Battle Creek to receive an $850,000 grant help to change neighborhoods of distress into neighborhoods of opportunity.

The goal of the 18-month project is to identify problem areas, the issues plaguing those neighborhoods and fix them, but this isn't just a police issue. They're educating the community and giving them ownership.

Officer Tom Rivera patrols the Battle Creek Post Addition.

Rivera said, "Our interactions with the public have been more positive."

Police have identified parts of the neighborhood, as well as other around the city, as "hotspots," or areas with higher crime rates and locations that pull 40 percent of the police calls.

Battle Creek Police Department Chief Jim Blocker said, “At the center of this entire approach is about reaching out and engaging with on a daily basis members of the community of the impacted area and helping them identify what are the root causes, what are the drivers of crime and then how do we address it.”

Blocker says the department is working with several community organizations.

They've also brought on a civilian liaison who serves as the link between the department and the community. They can be reached at KLDILLMAN@battlecreekmi.gov or call (269) 966-3416

A big part of this project is listening to the residents' concerns and fixing it.

Battle Creek Police Community Outreach and Engagement Liaison Kelly Dillman said, “The lighting issue. We already know when there's low lighting, there is an opportunity for crime. We came back to the planning council and we showed them the steps of what it takes to just get a street light changed. So, we were able to make some phone calls, right to Consumers Energy, within 24 hours those lights were fixed.”

These targeted areas now see a strong police presence and more enforcement.

Rivera said, “You try to enforce basic traffic laws, parking laws and hope to minimize crimes within the area and to improve the overall environment of this community.”

The end goal is sustainability and giving neighborhoods the tools they need to succeed.

A leadership class will be held 5:30 p.m., Feb. 26, at the Department of Public Works 150 S. Kendal St. and a dinner with be held at 5 p.m. at the same location.

The goal is to train community members who can take what they've learned back to their neighborhoods.

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