Operation Payback | Local Government | ENGAGE

>>We all think we know
what government is.
>>How it works
and what it does.>>But what is it really?
What do we mean
by “government”?
>>Is it this?>>Or this?
>>Are these people
the government?
>>Are you?>>These are just some
of the questions we’ll try
to answer for you today.
>>On Engage.>>Hi, I’m Paloma.
>>My name’s Zach.
And we’re at a crime scene.
There’s no police tape. Nobody was hurt.
But property was damaged.
And the community is suffering.
>>Tagging like this makes the whole neighborhood look bad.
A trashed neighborhood
affects everyone involved.
>>And who helps clean this up? Neighbors?
>>How about all of the above? Let’s take a look
at a brand new plan
that gets everyone involved.>>The city of Milwaukee
is a city of neighborhoods.
And some of those neighborhoods
face significant challenges with graffiti and other crimes.
In recent years,
community groups have joined
with the police to fight crime at the neighborhood level.
A few years ago, after the
arrest of a group of taggers,
the police, along with state and local government, teamed up
with a non-profit group
to create a new program
called Operation Payback.>>It all started with a group
of individuals who were arrested
for graffiti.
>>I was assigning cases. And I had gotten one case
that was for graffiti.
>>A group of between 12 and 14
individuals who did graffiti throughout Milwaukee.
>>Then a couple of days later,
I got two other cases
that were for graffiti.>>Tens of thousands of dollars
worth of graffiti damage.
>>And I was looking at
what the judge had ordered.>>The judges ordered that they
had to do community service,
250 hours, plus.
>>Where they had to remove graffiti.
>>250 hours is a lot of hours.
>>We didn’t have resources.
How can we get this done without resources?
And I thought to myself, wow,
this is going to take
a lot of coordination. What do I do?
So, I got on the horn,
got on the telephone.
>>I told her that, you know, this is something that community
partners has done in the past,
and we’d definitely be able
to help her out, you know, help her with this project. My name’s Aaron Edwards.
I work with Safe & Sound
Community Partners.
I’m a community organizer. Safe & Sound is an anti-crime
organization, where we basically
work off a three-pronged
approach with community, law enforcement, and youth.
We met at a target team meeting
that we hold on a monthly basis
at all the police districts.>>The Captain was there,
and Aaron was there, and other
community partners were there.
>>We came up with a plan that, you know,
we’d work in partnership
with Probation and Parole,
Safe & Sound Community Partners, the Milwaukee Police Department
to go out into the neighborhoods
and remove graffiti.
>>Alderman Bob Donovan was in that meeting
and liked what was said.
>>We have to combine
our resources and bring everyone to the table.
That’s what’s happened
with this program.
>>Despite the agencies, despite the different departments,
we’ve got to get this done.
>>Together, that’s where that
power of collaboration came.>>We talked about what we would
need, who was going to do what.
>>We set up another meeting.
Worked out the details, and just went from there.
We went full force with it.
All these organizations
coming together and working effectively.
>>Operation Payback started
as a program for taggers
to clean up their own graffiti, but once they were done,
the program kept going, as
other offenders with community
service hours to fill joined in. The program also expanded
beyond cleaning up graffiti.
>>How can we make this more
than just painting out graffiti? Somebody said, well, we can do
neighborhood cleanup, picking up
trash, as well as flyering
the neighborhoods to let the neighbors in the area know,
you know, how these offenders
are paying back
to the community. The offenders
report to the station.
>>Everyone did something wrong,
but you’re giving back. We also want to give back
to you.
We talk to them.
We let them know, you know, we’re here to help.
You’re here to serve your
sentence, serve your community
time that the judge ordered.>>You get out there,
we get the job done,
and we get the job done right.
>>We let them know, kind of like the ground rules.
No cell phones.
No goofing around.
>>We let offenders know, you did something wrong.
You’re giving back
to the community
by doing community service. But we also want to let you know
that we’re giving back to you.
>>So once we have our little
talk, we load up the vehicles with the paint supplies
and cleanup supplies.
We keep all the graffiti
removal equipment, the paint, supplies for that,
supplies for garbage pickers,
the bags for picking up garbage,
we have it secured at the Police Station.
As a group, the officers,
Probation and Parole officers,
and the community partners will go to the different locations
that have the graffiti.
>>It’s kind of like
the broken windows theory.>>The broken windows theory
or philosophy is
if you leave the windows broken,
or garbage around, it’s going to expand
and it’s going to get worse.
So this is fixing
the broken windows. It’s weeding out the garbage,
weeding out the graffiti,
making it look a little neater
so the undesirable element doesn’t want to be there.
We’re taking care of the street
and the graffiti.
Hopefully, the owner will take pride in their own yard
and make sure that it’s
cleaned up and looks nice, too,
to get rid of that broken window. A lot of the offenders,
when they first come,
they’re very apprehensive
in talking with the officers. But as they come week after
week, it’s interesting to see
how the offenders
are interacting with them. We’re working with offenders
who have never known the police
officers as a friend, or as
an ally, that they can go to for resources.
>>I think that what happens,
they get to see each other
in a whole different light. Instead of being chased,
or feeling like this is
an adversarial
type of relationship, they’re working hand-in-hand
on doing something positive.>>A lot of these kids go out
and do this, thinking it’s a
victimless crime, that they’re
not hurting anybody by doing it.>>I feel like it’s a bad thing
that they done.
I feel like it’s a good thing
that we’re doing. But I feel like it’s bad
what they’ve done.
>>A lot of people could say
it’s a victimless crime, but it costs a lot of money
to clean up.
It causes a lot of people harm,
looking at this every day. It’s just not pretty.
>>That brings about, we hope,
a change in how they feel
about themselves, how they feel about what they contributed
to the community, and maybe
change some of those behaviors
that brought them to the Corrections system
to begin with.>>One of our main aspects
is to go door to door
in our sectors, and talk to
the residents to see what’s going on in their blocks.
>>We go out every Tuesday
with Operation Payback,
in collaboration with the Police Department, Probation and
Parole, and Safe & Sound.
>>We try to set up block
watches with residents. We take in their concerns,
and then forward those
to the appropriate areas.
>>I go door to door, and I try to speak with residents.
I knock on every door
in the area.
And I give them the information about our agency, to start with,
Safe & Sound.
(speaking Spanish)>>We then empower those
residents with the tools
and the know-how
on how they can handle it. (speaking Spanish)
What we did, is we came up
with several flyers that reach out to residents
on the graffiti problem.
So, I talk to the residents
and I ask them, have you had any problems
with graffiti on your block?
And if so, what have you done?
Have you called to report it?>>So, by having a block watch
on your block,
you become the ears and eyes
of that neighborhood.>>The main thing is to educate
residents on the importance
of reporting.
>>It’s amazing, we’re walking the streets
picking up garbage
with the offenders.
>>Nice to meet you. It’s a good thing
you guys are doing.
>>The number of citizens that
will come up and talk to us, and ask us what’s going on,
so we can build
that relationship with them.
The main purpose is to better equip the residents
with resources, overall quality
of life, bettering that
in the neighborhoods. I mean, just trying to make it
a cleaner and safer place.
The one thing you want people
to know is you have folks that are out there to help you.
And as an organizer, I’m
one of those that can do that.
>>I’m a big advocate of city departments, other
community based organizations
working together.
I think that’s certainly the wave of the future.
>>I think it’s important
for the residents to see
all the groups working together. After all, they are the
taxpayers, but what better way
to see your local government
and police and community based organizations working
all together for them?
We’re giving back.
And you know, the offenders are an aspect of that, where they’re
giving back to the community.
>>I have seen individuals who
have come through this program where the police have connected
them with job opportunities,
with GED and educational
opportunities. That’s important.
>>To help these offenders who
are on Probation and Parole to
be successful in the community, to become part of the community.
>>It’s been a great,
positive thing, in the fact
that we’ve got this relationship we now have with the police.
That has just been enhanced
because of this.
>>I enjoy working with people and helping them.
The reward at the end of the day
is knowing that I gave them
something that can either better equip their life or
their situation that they’re in.
Overall, just helping people,
that’s my goal. That’s where my passion is.
We hope to keep moving it
forward, because it is
a very rewarding program. It feels good
at the end of the day.>>For more information,
visit us on the Web at:


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