Proactive Public Safety and Community Crime Prevention

CIS Public Safety and Community Crime Prevention security consultants are recognized worldwide for reducing crime and social disorder in even the toughest environments.

The CIS Community Public Safety Program—A holistic strategy for reducing crime and increasing quality of life in public communities.

Historically, America’s primary public safety and community crime prevention approach to controlling crime and disorder in society is through the act of law enforcement. This approach gave birth to our current 911 system and a mandate on police to direct their attention and resources on arrest and criminal investigation. The consequences today are a policing system which is largely responsive in nature, leaving few resources to proactively address the underlying conditions contributing to crime. In many communities, this situation has also resulted in division and distrust between the public and authorities, further magnifying conditions which allow criminals to thrive in the environment.

Managing public safety is at once a complicated science and a sophisticated art. Achieving long-term reductions in crime and increased quality of life often requires an integrated approach involving the coordinated activities of government, the private sector, and community organizations aimed at eliminating physical and social disorder conditions and restoring social capital.

In 2012, CIS created the first private sector-led public safety program as an evolution from the methodology used in CIS-protected communities over the previous 20 years. 

The CIS model of proactive public safety focuses directly on the strategic alignment of public and private resources in Preventative Interaction. The program focuses on collaboration between three main entities: Government, the private sector, and individuals in the community overall. In order to achieve collaboration, the program focuses on community networking as a means of developing cooperation and support from diverse parties.

Under this approach, public safety activities are designed to strategically reduce issues that contribute to crime, social and physical disorder, and community turnover while proactively deterring criminals from operating in the area. Some of the many activities encompassed by the program include developing social networks, proactive public relations & community engagement, problem solving, correcting physical disorder conditions (e.g., CPTED measures, remediation, etc.), and intelligence-led policing aimed at strategically-selected enforcement targets (e.g, geographic areas, offenses, offenders, etc.).

The CIS Community Public Safety Program is the first program of its kind in the United States.

Program Objectives

    • Identify problems/issues that interfere with the development of social capital and create solutions to remove those barriers.
    • Deny criminals opportunity to exploit disorder. Deter criminals from opportunistically targeting communities and businesses inside the area.
    • Manage perceptions about criminal activity by accurately presenting crime information to community members.
    • Increase the effectiveness of public safety planning and coordination through improved formal and informal networks.
    • Improve the overall quality of life for residents and businesses in the area.
    • Reduce resident and business turnover.
    • Establish effective community leadership and positive influence within area communities.
    • Enhance the brand/reputation of the area.
    • Increase property values of homes and commercial real estate.    

These objectives are accomplished through a joint, coordinated effort to create social networks aimed at generating social capital, community engagement, problem solving, decreasing physical disorder (e.g., CPTED measures, remediation, etc.), and intelligence-led policing aimed at strategically-selected enforcement targets (e.g, geographic areas, offenses, offenders, etc.).

Implementation of the Program

Every community is unique in its characteristics, problems, and potential resources. Correspondingly, each project commences with an assessment of the community to establish the foundation for a successful and practical implementation strategy. This assessment includes crime analysis, resident surveys to identify community perceptions and concealed disorder conditions, physical assessment of the environment, and meetings with stakeholders to identify resources and design a structure for supervision of the program.

Universal components of the strategy include:

    • Establishment and training of a dedicated unit of Public Safety Officers (PSOs) responsible for managing the program, assessment and monitoring of social and physical disorder conditions, networking community residents and business owners, coordinating the actions of community groups and HOAs, victim re-contact activities, organizing community events, etc.
    • Establishment and direction of a volunteer Community Action Safety Team (CAST) to augment the PSO unit in different activities.
    • Coordination with local law enforcement agencies for strategic targeting of geographic ‘hot spots’ and criminal activity.
    • Coordination with municipal agencies, business owners, and civic groups to resolve physical disorder conditions (e.g., building repair, trash removal, graffiti removal, etc.).
    • Advising business owners, residential property managers, and home owners about security measures, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), and similar issues.
    • Proactive public relations activities to remedy misperceptions about crime, spotlight improvements, and thus incentivize business investment and engender social capital.
What distinguishes the CIS approach from other community crime prevention programs?

Most criminologists today agree that the key to making long-term reductions in crime is rehabilitation and stabilization of the afflicted community. Since the advent of this realization by the Chicago School of Human Ecology, numerous programs and models for crime prevention through community building have been developed. However, to date, the majority of these community-based programs have proven unsuccessful in achieving any substantial or lasting results. The poor success of these initiatives can often be traced to a single issue—failure to remove the existing conditions that perpetuate the cycle of crime.

A major component of the CIS strategy is identifying and neutralizing influences within a community that deteriorate its fiber and social capital. This is accomplished by targeting the sources of crime and community predation. Overt criminal activity that generates fear within the community is specifically targeting as a priority. Furthermore, social disorder issues which are often overlooked by law enforcement (e.g., noise complaints, loitering, trespass, public alcohol consumption, etc.) are rigidly enforced.

The MetroWest Public Safety Program (2012-Present)

In 2012, the MetroWest Master Association in Orlando became the first community in the United States to adopt the CIS program. As an organization representing over 45,000 residents and businesses, including a business park and shopping district, MetroWest is a microcosm of a city and was the perfect proving ground for demonstrating the effectiveness of the CIS program on large, public scale.

Map of MetroWest Orlando

The success of the CIS Community Public Safety Program is dramatically evident when comparing crime and resident turnover rates in the MetroWest area and City of Orlando between 2013 (when the program started) and 2017:

    • 16% overall decrease in auto theft, in contrast to the City of Orlando which reported a 31.2% increase for the same dates of comparison.
    • 45.8% overall decrease in vandalism, in contrast to the City of Orlando which reported a 16.8% decrease.
    • 16.3% overall decrease in violent acts, in contrast to the City of Orlando which reported a 10.2% decrease.
    • 63.9% overall decrease in residential burglary, in contrast to the City of Orlando which reported a 37.4% decrease.
    • Residential property managers reported 95-98% occupancy rates and 65-70% renewals in 2017, with a 2-5% increase year-by-year of the program.

Click here for more information about the CIS Private Setor-Led Public Safety Program at MetroWest.

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