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Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 2001

Abstract

In the early 1990s, crime begins to spiral out of control in the rapidly growing Penwood/Arville neighborhood of the fastest-growing city in the U.S., Las Vegas. Police, however, faced a series of obstacles in their efforts to control it. The administration of a neighborhood high school, whose students included suspected lawbreakers, was unreceptive to overtures for assistance, fearing the message that might be sent by police presence in the school. The managers of some of the area''s apartment complexes showed little interest in screening or monitoring tenants, setting the stage for illegal activities-such as drug-dealing-on their premises. This case describes the ways in which these challenges were gradually overcome, at least for a time-the factors that appeared to make improvement possible and the tactics that were employed. These community policing-style tactics included collaboration amongst police, school officials, and property owners. Police assisted in leveraging city resources-such as recreation programs-for high school students; a critical mass of property owners accepted a police offer to provide information on the criminal history of potential tenants; police began to patrol the neighborhood on bicycle. The case recounts the accumulation of effort that appeared to allow police to retake control of Penwood/Arville. It also raises the question, however, of how the collaborative efforts described can be institutionalized, such that turnover in key positions does not undermine the success achieved.

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Abstract

In the early 1990s, crime begins to spiral out of control in the rapidly growing Penwood/Arville neighborhood of the fastest-growing city in the U.S., Las Vegas. Police, however, faced a series of obstacles in their efforts to control it. The administration of a neighborhood high school, whose students included suspected lawbreakers, was unreceptive to overtures for assistance, fearing the message that might be sent by police presence in the school. The managers of some of the area''s apartment complexes showed little interest in screening or monitoring tenants, setting the stage for illegal activities-such as drug-dealing-on their premises. This case describes the ways in which these challenges were gradually overcome, at least for a time-the factors that appeared to make improvement possible and the tactics that were employed. These community policing-style tactics included collaboration amongst police, school officials, and property owners. Police assisted in leveraging city resources-such as recreation programs-for high school students; a critical mass of property owners accepted a police offer to provide information on the criminal history of potential tenants; police began to patrol the neighborhood on bicycle. The case recounts the accumulation of effort that appeared to allow police to retake control of Penwood/Arville. It also raises the question, however, of how the collaborative efforts described can be institutionalized, such that turnover in key positions does not undermine the success achieved.

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