RACINE – The Racine Police Department, which runs the COP House program, learned earlier this week that its application for a $50,000 Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) youth crime diversion grant was denied. However, a scaled-back program is still in the works using community help.
“Sure, it’s disappointing, but we intend to go forward with a pilot program that will give us some good experience,” Sgt. James Pettis of the RPD’s Community Oriented Policing (COP) unit told the Kiwanis Club of West Racine’s Wednesday morning meeting.
The New COP House Plan
Instead of a program serving about 40 youth in the Geneva Street, Mead Street, Villa Street and Anthony Lane neighborhoods, the COP House Caretakers pilot program will be based out of the Ernest and Bernice Styberg COP House, 2437 Anthony Lane, Pettis said. The revised plan calls for the program to serve 10 youth, ages 10 to 16, from the neighborhood.
Part of the $15,000 in needed funding would create a jobs program that would put youth to work performing services like leaf removal, yard maintenance and general cleanup in the Anthony Lane neighborhood. Some of the funds would go toward providing community service volunteer opportunities for youth who have had previous run-ins with the law.
It’s expected that the program participants will be referred through nearby schools with an eye toward those with leadership potential and academic performance as well as youth referred by the juvenile court.
Performance measures for the COP House Caretakers will include watching for reductions in the neighborhood’s property crimes, such as burglaries and thefts, he added.
“What better way to address these issues than to do it through the COP Houses,” said Pettis.
The Racine Police Department is just starting to solicit funding from local service clubs, individuals and businesses. The department is also hoping for in-kind donations of yard tools, like rakes and shovels. The target date to launch the COP House Caretakers pilot is May 1.
The COP unit learned Monday that it had been turned down by the DOJ. Pettis said the rejection wasn’t due to a lack of merit, but because the statewide competitive bidding process put the Racine start-up program up against renewals of existing youth crime-diversion initiatives.
The COP proposal was widely praised last month when it went before the Racine Common Council’s Finance & Personnel Committee.