The 'Light Up the City' initiative is a community outreach action plan working toward crime prevention through community participation. The initiative provides leadership from law enforcement and unites partners with community organizations; local residents, politicians, healthcare organizations, educators, housing organizations and other stake holders. The initiative would empower citizens to take action and report crime by getting involved in solving the issues that the community is currently facing. The initiative will focus on strategically identified areas in the City of Saginaw, and will begin the process of building partnerships and trust in the community. The 'Light Up the City' initiative is a partner with Consumers Energy. Consumers Energy will support the initiative with the 'Helping Neighbors' program. Prior to each event, a promotional walk will be done in the identified area to educate the residents about the 'Light Up the City' initiative as well as the 'Helping Neighbors' program. A FREE energy efficient light bulb provided by Consumers Energy will be distributed to participating residents. The residents will be encouraged to turn on their porch light in support of the initiative. The visual message signifies the unity of law enforcement and the community by taking back control of their neighborhoods.
The Light Up the City (LUTC) idea began as a grassroots initiative in Saginaw with the Michigan State Police, Saginaw Police Department, Consumers Energy and the Saginaw Neighborhood Associations in early fall of 2013. LUTC began doing promotional walks and LUTC events in September until the season was no longer favorable. A total of five events were held with the last event being held on 'devils night' as a city-wide LUTC with Arson Watch event.
The initiative was received well by the residents of Saginaw and the involved parties as positive relationships were being build and statistics were showing a change in recorded violent crime. With the City of Saginaw violent crime rate dropped 16% last year, the decision to continue the initiative was made with the thought of increasing partnership and bringing more resources. The Michigan State Police command staff spoke with the Governor about the initiative and the decision was made to implement the initiative in Flint. The initiative focuses on law enforcement stepping away from traditional policing and getting boots on the ground. With the reality that traditional policing is limiting the amount of crime that can be addressed, resources are being dedicated to the LUTC initiative.
Law Enforcement will attend the local neighborhood association meetings prior to doing the promotional walk and LUTC event. Law Enforcement will gather information from the residents about: drug activity locations, gang activity, abandoned/ blight homes/ illegal activities at local businesses, abandoned vehicle/ code violations and lighting issues. Law Enforcement will then reach out to partners to assist in addressing these issues and improve the failing neighborhoods. (Example: Youth Move is a group of young men that come in to mentor youth in Saginaw that may be pointed in the wrong direction. The mentors have grown up and been exposed to gang activity in Saginaw and overcome these obstacles and have become successful. We will be able to direct parents of troubled teenage boys in the neighborhoods to Youth Move as they are our partner.)
A day or two before the LUTC event night walk, law enforcement and Consumers Energy walk the neighborhood and make door to door contact. This is a great opportunity for involved parties to become familiar with the neighborhood as well. If no one is home, a door hanger is left educating the residents about the event and requesting them to do one or all of the following: turn on their porch light; join the walk; open their blinds; and report crime. With a goal of building the relationships with the residents, our partners are encouraged to join us and are strongly encouraged to represent their business by wearing 'their colors'. (Example: t-shirt with their business name or logo.) This walk takes place during the day usually from 1pm-3pm and each group is accompanied by a law enforcement officer to ensure safety. Energy efficient light bulbs are provided by Consumers Energy to participating residents as well.
The LUTC event night walk takes place from 8pm-11pm. Groups consist of 6-8 civilians and at least two police officers, this ensures safety to all participants. All participants are again encouraged to represent their business or organization during this event. Flashlights are provided to those who do not bring one. Participants that feel they are unable to walk can be given a light for their car to patrol by vehicle. The lights are orange and are provided by Saginaw Police Department as they have previously been used by neighborhood association patrols. This event is meant to build up our failing neighborhoods and build relationships. No door to door contact is made. Extra light bulbs are given to residents that contact the groups about the event.
It is of the utmost importance to ensure safety to participating members or partners. All measures will be taken to ensure safety of everyone whether on the promotional walk or the LUTC event night. No one participating in the events would be allowed to patrol alone on the LUTC event or make contact at homes without law enforcement presence.
All partners are being requested to provide volunteers for the promotional walks and LUTC events. We will also be asking what each partner can provide to the neighborhoods to improve life for residents and/ or address violent crime in the neighborhood. (Example: Parishioners on Patrol would be requested to minister to any persons requesting faith based services.)
This is a great opportunity for our partners to come out and announce their involvement and celebrate the unity of so many residents, businesses and stakeholders in Saginaw with a focused goal of improving the failing neighborhoods. A kick-ff event is being planned on April 2nd in the Houghton-Jones Neighborhood Association area. Our media partners will be called upon to provide adequate coverage for credit to our partners. A closing event will take place during National Night Out hosted by Saginaw Twp. Police Department on August 7th. This is another great opportunity for our partners to take credit for their involvement in the LUTC initiative.
This is YOUR call to action to join law enforcement and help! We need all talk about the reputation of Saginaw, this is your call to action to do something about it. Bring to the table what your company can offer. Lets join together and get Saginaw off the FBI top ten list of most violent cities!