Salisbury Police, city creating committee to plan for $800,000 West End grant

Published 12:07 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police and city staff are working to hire a project coordinator and form a committee that will plan for and carry out ideas to reduce crime and enhance quality of life in the West End.

In December, the city received an $800,000 Byrne Justice Innovation Program Grant for the West End Salisbury Transformed Empowered Neighborhood Development project. It’s a three-year award to be granted to the Salisbury Police, Parks and Recreation and the Planning departments to implement community-led initiatives “to build on past efforts to connect our community with services, programs and other resources to interrupt persistent cycles of violence and disorder,” said Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes Tuesday during the City Council meeting.

Since it’s an innovation grant, Stokes noted, the purpose of the grant is to help the community come up with new ideas to prevent crime and enhance recreational and public space development and youth programs in the approximately 1.21-square-mile West End neighborhood.

Initial plans include developing a community group to lead community-based responses, conduct a neighborhood study, enhance recreational spaces at Hall Gym and the Miller Center, develop a community violence intervention team and restore vacant lots and structures where possible.

Stokes said the first steps involve forming a community violence intervention committee, which will carry out the implementation and distribution of resources. Stakeholders Stokes highlighted as potential members include Rowan-Salisbury NAACP President Gemale Black, the Salisbury Community Development Corporation, the West End Pride group, the J.C. Price American Legion, a West End community member, Livingstone College, Project Safe Neighborhoods Coordinator Lorenzo Debose, Brenner Crossing apartment manager, chair of the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Housing Advocacy Commission, Habitat for Humanity, Moores Chapel AME Zion Church and Rev. Roy Dennis of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, who’s also chair of the Police Chief’s Advisory Council.

Mayor Karen Alexander suggested someone from the Rowan-Salisbury Schools system be involved, adding that this will likely need the help of local schools and county leaders.

Additionally, while the department’s community relations officer and organizational development lieutenant will lead the project planning and coordination, the grant requires a project coordinator who must be hired and compensated.

Within the first six months, Stokes said the committee will begin surveying the neighborhood about their perceptions of crime, housing and quality of life issues. The committee will also work to study contributing factors to the high rate of crime in the West End area and identify what resources and ideas can be implemented using the community’s input.

Toward the end of the year, the committee will revise an action plan for the grant and develop both a community violence intervention plan and a sustainability plan so that “this effort is not allowed to dwindle away and issues return to West End.”

“We don’t want to swoop in for three years in the West End and say, ‘OK, we’re done,’ wash our hands and leave,” Stokes said. “We want to have a sustainability plan so that we can continue this long-term to make sure problems don’t come back.” 

Stokes said the grant is data-driven and requires periodic data to support what did and didn’t work since it’s an innovation grant. Jessica Herbert of IDEA Analytics will be tasked with assessing and reporting the data of implementation.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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