CITY OF NORFOLK, VA
Mayor 
 Paul D. Fraim

Police Assisted Community Enforcement, Spiritual Action for Empowerment (PACE SAFE)

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

PACE SAFE is a program or strategy in which the Police Department establishes partnerships with the "Community Building and Value-Shaping Institutions" (i.e., churches, synagogues, temples and other faith-based organizations) of the city for the purpose of addressing the many challenges it faces, such as racial tension. The success and longevity of such a partnership is dependent upon all involved seeing the city and the faith community as co-laborers in the effort to bring peace and prosperity to Norfolk. PACE SAFE has been instrumental in presenting this message to both parties.

While possessing many of the facilities and other resources instrumental in meeting the many needs of its residents, Norfolk often wrestles with a lack of manpower. The faith community on the other hand, has the manpower but often lacks the necessary facilities and other resources, such as office equipment, computers, etc.... PACE SAFE actively engages the faith community by assisting in identifying areas of need within the city and then when possible, equips the faith community with the resources to address the need.

The PACE SAFE Coordinator hosts monthly meetings in which proposals from various members of the faith community are submitted for review. In addition, new challenges facing the city or individual communities are discussed. These meetings are often attended by members of the Police Administration, sending the message to the faith community that they are an integral piece of the community policing puzzle. Police participation/support in these meetings has also been instrumental in rallying grass roots support for the police department and, more importantly, the individual officer on the street.

2. When was the program created and why?

At the inception of PACE (1990), the city recognized the faith community as a viable, extremely influential, and readily accessible resource to both the citizens and government of Norfolk. Once this acknowledgment was made, steps were taken to ensure the faith community was included within the larger community policing strategy.

In attempting to enhance the Police Department's PACE policing strategy in the individual neighborhoods, the faith community was identified as one of the most effective vehicles through which this could be done.

PACE SAFE was then formed for the purpose of bringing this about by enhancing collaborative activities and programs with and among community building and value-shaping institutions i.e., the faith community.

An advertisement that appeared in the late 60's asked, "Why Go To Church?" It followed up that question with this answer:

"The church is the greatest influence in a community, therefore it needs your support. The church is one of the oldest established institutions throughout the world. It may be known by other names, but wherever a temple, a cathedral, or a house of worship is established, it makes for a better city-a better town-a better people.

The church represents a group of people like you and me. Its mission is to build body, soul, and spirit. It starts with the children, training them in the better things of life, and throws its doors wide open to all races, colors and creeds."

PACE SAFE works under the auspices that, "The faith community needs the city and the city needs the faith community."

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

Much of the effectiveness has been measured by the number of ongoing partnerships formed between various city departments and members of the faith community. As of January 1, 1999, approximately sixty such partnerships exist. These partnerships, as well as other community policing initiatives, have been identified as playing an instrumental role in the declining crime rate the city of Norfolk now enjoys.

In specifically addressing the issue of racism, PACE SAFE has assisted with several community outreaches in which very diverse places of worship representing several different races worked hand in hand to minister to various communities. Uniformed police officers are highly visible at each event resulting in greatly reduced racial tension in the city, particularly concerning citizens and the Police Department. PACE SAFE has resulted in an unexpected benefit of helping to dispel many of the negative stereotypes often given police officers.

4. How is the program financed?

At this time one police officer oversees PACE SAFE as its coordinator. This is a full-time position. As a part of the PACE community policing strategy all expenses incurred are covered in the PACE budget.

5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?

As mentioned earlier, of the approximate 350 places of worship in the City, about 60 have become active members in the SAFE Program. Their participation has included the implementation of:

  • community outreach events;
  • clothing/food distributions;
  • emergency homeless shelters during the winter;
  • literacy/tutoring programs;
  • after school care and mentoring;
  • athletic leagues;
  • daycare targeting "welfare to work" parents;
  • gang awareness seminars;
  • citywide prayer initiatives; and
  • drug addiction programs.

In each case various needs of the community have been identified and steps have been taken to meet that need. In every case the citizens of Norfolk have been the beneficiaries of the programs implemented under PACE SAFE.

6. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program?

Historically, the government's definition of partnership has been, "We need your help. What can you do for us?" This approach will result in a very apathetic response by any prospective partner. To make the most out of the faith community, city government must recognize the faith community as a community building and value-shaping institution, and then be willing to invest in that community. It is that investment, in terms of time, money, and resources that results in a productive partnership in which the citizens experience the greatest positive impact. To effectively partner with the faith community, city government must ask, "We need your help. This is what we are willing to invest. What can you do with it?" This approach has all the ingredients for a mutually successful practical partnership.

7. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?

Recognize the faith community as a much needed partner and then invest in that partnership. City Managers and mayors across the country are realizing just how important the faith community is to the health of their respective cities. Once realized, city governments are moving to develop and implement new policies that are creating conditions conducive, not detrimental, to the involvement of the faith community. It is in this setting in which practical partnerships are most easily fostered and maintained. It is in this setting in which both sides are eager to invest resources, time, and money for the good of the whole. It is in this setting that the city wins, the faith community wins, and most importantly the citizens win!

For more information, please contact:

Melvin C. High, Chief of Police
Joseph H. Jackson, Assistant Chief of Operations
P.O. Box 358
Norfolk, VA. 23501
Telephone: (757) 441-2268

Officer Chris Amos
PACE SAFE Coordinator
3661 E. Virginia Beach Blvd.
Norfolk, VA. 23502
Telephone: (757) 664-7016
Fax: (757) 664-7001 

 

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