Partners in a grant focused on reducing crime in South and East Cleveland must determine the coalition’s future without funding.
The three-year $800,000 program funded by the Office of Criminal Justice through the state ended June 30.
“The money has stopped, but that doesn’t mean the project has to stop,” project consultant David Watts said Tuesday during a meeting at the Bradley County Juvenile Justice Center. “We are going to sustain as much of it as we can.”
The purpose of the Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction Grant is to reduce crime related to the use of alcohol and drugs and to break the familial cycle of incarceration and recidivism through partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Family YMCA, College Hill Recreation Center, South Cleveland Recreation Center, Juvenile Justice Center, Behavioral Research Institute, churches and other social agencies.
Watts said the year-end report is in the hands of the federal auditors. He has not heard their comments, but he expects Cleveland to look good though he thinks the auditor will find minor discrepancies.
“I expect we’ll hear about good things going on in Cleveland,” he said.
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel envisions a more neighborhood-oriented future instead of looking at police Sectors 1 and 2 in East and South Cleveland as a whole.
“Sectors 1 and 2 include about half of Cleveland. They are just too big,” she said. “We need to break it down into small neighborhoods.”
Boys & Girls Clubs Operations Director Derrick Kinsey and Teen Center Director Wyatt Bevis talked about the Teen Conference at Horns Creek in Polk County held April 19-20.
“This crime reduction grant has been very beneficial to the Boys & Girls Clubs. We were primarily involved in the prevention component,” Kinsey said.
One aspect of prevention is teen leadership. Part of leadership development is to open their eyes to the world beyond Cleveland through college campus tours and other trips.
Bevis spoke about the fourth annual teen conference held April 19-20.
The conference mission was to create a healthy community through development of future leaders beginning with crime reduction.
“The focus was to instill needed virtues of community awareness, social responsibility, service orientation and quality leadership,” Bevis said. “We believe those core things keep kids off the streets, keep them out of crime and keep them away from being locked up here at this facility (Juvenile Justice Center).”
Various speakers, including Adam Lowe, Phil Cook, officer Chris Lewallen and William Lamb encouraged 143 teens from Cleveland; Chattanooga; Monroe County; Dalton, Ga.; and Greenville, Tenn., to accept the responsibility of leadership in their families, schools, clubs and communities.
“Sixty-seven were from sectors one and two. We were required to get 50 kids. We had 67,” he said.
The teens participated in team-building activities such as an adventure races, paintball games and group problem solving. They enjoyed the zip-line, giant swing and just being with nature.
Each teen was given a flash drive full of documents and links to guide them in leadership, college applications to area colleges and universities.