Little Rock, Arkansas
The city of Little Rock, AR, was inundated with complaints from residents about nuisance problems, primarily code enforcement and minor crime issues. In 2004, under the leadership of City Manager Bruce Moore, the city responded to this problem with the Criminal Abatement Program (CAP), a focused abatement program developed to help create safer neighborhoods for Little Rock residents.
One of the benefits of having a city manager is having a leader who is not tied to one department, can see the organization as a whole, and brings the right people together from different corners of the government to solve a problem. Through CAP, Mr. Moore required city departments to work together to concentrate their manpower and resources in targeted areas.
CAP represented the first time that city departments applied a unified approach to problem solving—working together, weekly reviewing problems, and collectively reaching solutions. On a bi-weekly basis, the mayor and the city manager met with city staff to discuss issues and next steps for criminal and code violators.
The CAP program significantly improved the quality of life for many residents in Little Rock. In the first three years of the program:
- Fire code violations in more than 500 structures were remedied
- More than 20,000 additional garbage/waste pickups were made
- More than 20,000 feet of right-of-way were cleaned
- Nineteen structures were demolished
- More than 30 commercial business were cited and either brought up to code or closed down
- More than 2,500 notices and citations were issued, and approximately 2,100 properties were brought into compliance
- Countless misdemeanors and felony tickets were issued and arrests made.
One of the less tangible benefits of CAP, but perhaps the most important, is that citizens saw immediate, visible results of the hard work that elected officials and city staff did to make their communities safer.