Project Next Step nominated for award

Published 7:07 am Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Contributing Editor

Project Next Step, an initiative of the Washington Police Department, has been nominated for the Award of Excellence.
The nomination was made by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. The department finds out Dec. 3 if Project Next Step receives the award. An announcement concerning the award will be made during the commission’s Safe Communities Conference in Greensboro, slated for Dec. 1-3.
Police Chief Mick Reed believes the success of Project Next Step got the commission’s attention.
“It is very pleasing that the Governor’s Crime Commission has seen fit to nominate our project for consideration,” Reed said Monday.
Project Next Step, funded by a grant authorized by the Governor’s Crime Commission, is designed to identify criminal activity in a targeted neighborhood.
“I believe Project Next Step was recognized because we tried something new, and, so far, we have achieved a level of success, although there’s still plenty still to do,” Reed said.
The project identifies individuals involved in unlawful conduct and presents a unique manner to deal with them. If successful, the intervention eliminates overt criminal activity while bringing city and community resources available to alter the individual’s lifestyle, according to project spokesmen.
Project Next Step is credited with helping lower the crime rate in Washington.
Washington’s major-crimes rate for the first six moths of this year was down about 10 percent when compared to the first six months of 2009, according to data released by the Washington Police Department earlier this year.
That decrease follows a 26-percent decline in the crime rate from 2008 through 2009.
In the first six months of 2010, the number of reported major crimes — murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft and arson — totaled 325, down from the 364 reported for the first six months of 2009 and down from the 442 reported in the first six months of 2008, according to data provided by the department.
“The true success of this program is the community,” Reed said, adding the community’s support of Project Next Step has been instrumental in its effectiveness. “It doesn’t work without the community supporting us and standing there with us.”
April Corbett, program director of Project Next Step, has similar views.
“The positive results are a direct result of community support, said Corbett in a news release about the nomination. “We still have work to be done, but our community support has been wonderful.”