Wednesday, October 14, 2009

KCPD and Westside CAN Center to receive MetLife Foundation/LISC award


The Westside Community Action Network Center (WCAN) and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department (KCPD) will be honored tomorrow with a MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award for extraordinary achievements in improving safety and strengthening community-police relations.

The Award, sponsored by MetLife Foundation and administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), recognizes partnerships between community development groups and police departments that have reduced crime and spurred housing development, economic activity, and improved community services in low- and moderate-income communities. WCAN was the winner in the “Diversity Inclusion and Integration” category, and was selected for the honor from more than 650 applicants nationwide. As part of WCAN’s annual celebration event, which takes place tomorrow, MetLife Managing Director J. Paul Hurt will present a $15,000 award to the Kansas City partners.

“Crime is a significant threat to sustained neighborhood revitalization,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “The Westside CAN Center and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department provide an exemplary model of partnership to reduce crime and spur revitalization, and we are pleased to join LISC in recognizing their achievements and sharing their model.”

The Westside CAN Center and the KCPD tackled complex safety concerns stemming from the concentration of Latino day laborers in the Westside area. Through coordinated problem-solving, they sifted through a variety of actual crime risks surrounding ad-hoc day laborer hiring sites, as well as negative perceptions about the Latino immigrant community, and used the insights they gained to help guide the specific action steps taken. They began with outreach and services for the laborers and progressed to the development of a full-scale day laborer pickup and drop-in center, which has successfully addressed community concerns about violence, disorder and crime. The KCPD’s close involvement in the planning and ongoing management of the Center has received national attention, and has helped build bridges between the Latino immigrant community and law enforcement while also addressing neighborhood safety. Crime in the neighborhood went down by over 50% within the first year of the effort.

“Every day, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department draws on partnerships with community organizations, residents and businesses to resolve crime problems,” said Chief Jim Corwin. “The efforts being recognized by LISC and MetLife Foundation are a great example of how we can make neighborhoods safer, better places to live by collaborating.”

Julie Porter, executive director of Greater Kansas City LISC, noted that this is the third MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award earned in Kansas City since 2006. “History has shown that collaboration between community developers and police can yield tremendous results in neighborhoods,” said Porter. “We are thrilled to join MetLife Foundation in recognizing the KCPD’s continued leadership in community policing, as well as the creative work of the Westside CAN Center in making the Westside a better place to live and work.”