Written By: Prince William County
During their meeting today, the Board of County Supervisors gave staff approval to move forward with a new Community Safety Initiative. While the county has been committed to ensuring a safe and secure community through prevention, readiness and service excellence, this new initiative approach further enhances this commitment to the community.
Closely aligned with the research done by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and best practices from across the country, the Community Safety Initiative will focus on prevention, intervention, education and diversion strategies to be more proactive in addressing safety concerns within the community. The initiative uses data and active community engagement to determine strategic priorities and focused action plans that are holistic, evidence-informed, equitable and inclusive. This approach will involve four key elements: 1) Stakeholders from multiple sectors to drive the Community Safety Initiative process, 2) Trusted messengers and practitioners to ensure effective citizen engagement and service delivery, 3) Approaches to safety that are driven by data, and 4) Practices which are rooted in an understanding of how trauma affects all people and the larger community.
To begin implementation, Prince William County will build community collaboration, including creating a Community Safety Advisory Committee, and will actively engage residents and stakeholders to understand their perspectives and insights about safety in the community. This implementation strategy includes compiling data and performing in-depth community assessments that identify the root causes of safety problems, assets that can support determined strategies, and the gaps and needs that must be addressed.
“The Community Safety Initiative aligns directly with the county’s Strategic Plan, specifically the goal of being a safe and secure community,” said Chair At-Large Ann Wheeler. “There are county agencies, community groups and trusted voices within our area that are already doing great work to address the different concerns related to safety in our county. This initiative brings all those stakeholders to the table, allows all voices to be heard and identifies proactive steps forward by leveraging the efforts of everyone committed to keeping Prince William County safe. We are very excited about the positive impacts this will have on our community, including our ability to be safe.”
The Community Safety Initiative program will report through the Deputy County Executive for Public Safety in the Office of Executive Management.
“While ultimately the areas of focus for the Community Safety Initiative will be based on data and community engagement, we anticipate that issues such as community violence intervention, traffic safety and substance misuse may be examined,” remarked Elijah Johnson, acting county executive. “This initiative continues the county’s efforts in using evidenced-informed decision making and the concept of ‘no wrong door’ to better understand the needs and serve the residents of Prince William County.”