Crime Prevention Coordinator Brad Taylor says:
I first met Erin Cornell at a community walk along 82nd Ave that was hosted by neighborhood coalition office. She was there as a concerned neighbor, as her house is just two blocks off of 82nd Ave. She used the time to network with other neighbors; she introduced herself to the Neighborhood District Attorney and she introduced herself to me.
She and I communicated a few times over the next couple of weeks, and she expressed her desire to help engage her neighbors in an effort to increase the safety of her street. She has lived in her home for over half a dozen years, yet at the time she did not know many of the neighbors that surrounded her. So we discussed that a good first step would be for her to invite her neighbors to attend a general safety meeting.
Erinwent door to door around nearly ten blocks that surround her and left invitations to the meeting. She immediately identified herself as the point of contact for any neighbor that wished to participate in crime prevention efforts. When the meeting occurred, over twenty neighbors were present.
Erinnot only nurtured her neighbors’ efforts at and after this meeting, but she also continued to find ways to express the concerns that she and her neighbors shared. At the safety meeting, she met members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Prostitution Team, and she is now in regular contact with them as she forwards vehicle information of johns that pick up and drop off sex workers on her street. She communicates with the PPB’s NRT team, Vice team, and district officers about a problem location across the street from her. She contacts BDS about zoning issues to further assist in abating the issues at the problem location. And she is in regular contact with me about all of these efforts.
As remarkable as it was to organize such a large area of neighbors,Erincontinued to express a desire to get the neighbors more active in addressing their shared concerns. A few months ago she helped to organiz a Foot Patrol Training and over a dozen people showed up. Erinencouraged another neighbor to take the lead in coordinating the patrol, and she works with him to keep track of everyone’s contact information and observations and concerns.
Erin’s focus has now shifted to helping the foot patrol coordinator expand the area to include neighbors across the main streets that border her block. She attends community events and uses word of mouth to try and include as many members of the community as possible to participate in the crime prevention efforts. She recently revisited the homes of neighbors who had initially expressed an interest in attending that first safety meeting but were unable to make it. “I just want to let them know what has happened since then,” she recently told me as we reflected on how much had changed in her neighborhood.
Now, she tells me, she knows dozens of her neighbors and many people smile and say hello when they pass her homes as she is outside and working in her garden. Even the residents of homes that she has reported suspicious our criminal activities seem to know her.
She recently had a direct conversation with the owner of the problem location across the street, and, while she listened to his perspective and learned of some of his struggles, she was sure to inform him that a large neighborhood watch and foot patrol exist on the block and that they will continue to call police to report suspicious and criminal behavior.
Erinhas transformed her fears and frustrations into actions and results. She is addressing the issues in her neighborhood in various ways and she is utilizing various supports from the city and from her community to do so. She leads by example and strives to include others in the leadership with the hope that their efforts will continue to grow. Through all of this,Erinremains grounded, focused, good spirited, and professional. She has built allies among PPB, BDS, Crime Prevention, her neighborhood association and her immediate neighbors.
It is my pleasure to present the Pennington Award to Erin Cornell.