West End grant coordinators prepare to submit action plan

Published 12:05 am Sunday, May 14, 2023

SALISBURY — Residents of Salisbury’s West End community gathered in Hall Gymnasium on Wednesday for the latest update about a block grant project aimed at reducing crime.

Project coordinators are nearing the end of the research phase for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program grant, which is worth $800,000, and are preparing to submit an action plan.

“The federal grant has three phases managed by DOJ. Planning is where we are coming to an end,” said Dr. Jessica Herbert, IDEA Analytics CEO and founder. “We are moving to implementation. That is where the rubber meets the road, and words become actions.”

IDEA Analytics is a strategic advising and analytical service partner for local government, public safety and nonprofits that provides program management, research and evaluation, and implementation support for organizations and communities seeking solutions to complex social concerns.

The IDEA Analytics team members outlined the project’s objectives and provided a package of what their research had indicated so far. Herbert explained that the BCJI model employs a place-based strategy, which focuses on a specific location within a community to direct resources and enhance factors to prevent crime concerns more effectively.

According to Herbert, implementation won’t matter if the measures are not implemented sustainably.

“The last part is the sustainability piece,” Herbert said. “With a lot of grants that get distributed by federal, state and local government, you see something happen, but then the grant ends and those things stop.”

The project is a partnership with the Salisbury Police Department to enhance the safety of the West End for those who live there.

“A lot of intervention strategies that are police driven are short term and (lack sustainability),” Salisbury Lt. P.J. Smith said. “This grant really leverages the community to keep it going.”

Smith had been representing the SPD during the initial phases of the project, but he announced on Wednesday that he would be stepping back and Lt. Koula Black would be taking his place.

Keeping the community abreast of the project’s progress is part of the plan for the administrators involved in leading the charge.

“We will touch back on this,” said Chanel Nestor, the leading project coordinator. “From this point on, every second Thursday of the month, there will be a meeting.”

Salisbury-Rowan County NAACP President Gemale Black added, “You can never over-communicate. We walked every single street and put letters on every single house. We need more members of the community to show up and help get that word out.”

Those meetings will take place in Hall Gymnasium and the Miller Recreation Center once some repairs are completed. They will start at 6:30 p.m.