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VOL. 131 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 1, 2016

Grant Program Proving Beneficial To Neighborhood Watch Groups

By Madeline Faber

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With backing from the City of Memphis, local neighborhood associations can receive up to $2,500 to make their neighborhoods safer.

Nearly $19,000 in grants was given away at the fourth cycle of the awards process in December 2015.


“Responding to criminal offenses and making arrests are part of the efforts to combat crime,” said Lia Roemer, program manager with the Memphis Area Neighborhood Watch department. “The Neighborhood Crime Prevention Fund gives our neighborhoods the opportunity to grow and create crime prevention efforts.”

Since the fund was established in 2014, 41 communities from Frayser to Cooper Young have been made safer with total grants reaching $96,012.

The grant program, which is funded through revenue from red-light traffic violations, is housed at the City Office of Parks and Neighborhoods.

The next grant cycle will kick off Jan. 19 with a grant application workshop held at the Cunningham Community Center from 9:30 to noon, and five more workshops are planned. Applicants are required to attend one of these workshops to apply for the funds. Grants will be awarded next March.

Most the funds are used to install lights, cameras or clean up streets and community gardens.

“We as neighbors know what we need in our community. With people on the outside, they don’t live here, and they don’t know what our concerns are,” said Telise Turner, vice president with the SkyLake Homeowners Association.

In November 2014, SkyLake was among the first group to receive the grant. Turner received $2,500 and put the money toward installing three streetlights at the neighborhood’s entrance on James Road and in a park maintained by the homeowners association.

Turner said Skylake, which sits at the eastern border of Frayser, is safer than most parts of North Memphis but crime has increased in recent years.

“We’ve had a big change in the residents out here,” she said. “Now we have more younger people moving into the neighborhood and we do have some rental properties now.”

With 560 homes registered, her association is very active in patrolling and alerting the Memphis Police Department as part of their crime prevention strategy. Most homeowners range from 55 to 85 years of age.

Turner said the biggest problem was preventing at the corner of James Road and Birchfield Drive.

The entrance to the neighborhood was completely dark, and teens with BB guns or worse had preyed on the area.

“We felt that if the area was lit up it could deter crime and it has,” she said.

Annual dues pay for the monthly bill from Memphis Light, Gas & Water. Turner said this may not be a possibility for all neighborhoods, but paying for streetlights is a good foray into crime prevention.

Turner plans to apply for the grant again, this time to add cameras to the area.

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