Next Step in Taking Back the Neighborhood: Court Advocate

It take more than police efforts to make our neighborhoods safer; it also takes effort from neighborhood organizations and the community. Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC) and the Central West End (CWE) Neighborhood Security Initiative (NSI) are teaming up to reduce crime in the CWE and Forest Park Southeast (FPSE) neighborhoods by creating a Court Advocate position that will represent the community and neighborhood organizations.

Forest Park Southeast residents decided to take back their neighborhood starting with the Neighborhood Ownership Model (NOM). The NOM allows citizens to work with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Mayor to stand up against crime and create a safer neighborhood for residents. Through the NOM, Citizen Patrols were assembled and Block Captains were appointed.

The next step that is being taken to reduce crime in FPSE and Central West End is creation of a Court Advocate position. This position, which will be funded through the Central West End Neighborhood Security Initiative with a generous contribution from WUMCRC, will work on behalf of the neighborhoods in the circuit and city courts of the City of St. Louis. The advocate will be responsible for tracking every criminal case in the CWE and FPSE neighborhoods. This person will work closely with various neighborhood groups, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, attorneys, and staff of the Circuit Attorney’s Office and court personnel.

As Community Development Manager at WUMCRC, Nathan Bishop is heavily involved in safety and security and the NOM in the neighborhood.

“In the context of the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, a full-time Court Advocate dedicated to tracking all neighborhood cases, coordinating with the courts, and supporting residents is a powerful tool in the better prosecution of criminals. In coordination with the already established Neighborhood Ownership Model in Forest Park Southeast, this position is essential in improving quality of life, preserving its assets, and establishing itself as a place that will no longer allow criminal activity to occur.”

The creation of this position stems from Jim Whyte’s real dedication to working with courts and following up with any crime in CWE. Due to his other dedications as Executive Director of the Neighborhood Security Initiative, Jim is only able to advocate on behalf of 25% of all cases that occur in CWE. Jim could not be more supportive of the creation of this position.

“The court advocate position means that we will have someone on behalf of the neighborhood which will result in a better understanding of how cases are disposed. Hopefully this position will be the link between victims and what we’re trying to do for safety in the neighborhood. We know what works when you pay attention and get involved.”

This position is the first ever, full-time, paid position in the City of St. Louis. This person will dedicate 50% of their time to advocating against crime in CWE and 50% of their time advocating against crime in FPSE.

With this position, WUMCRC and NSI hope to build stronger communication between the courts and the community, higher sentencing and bonds for offenders, higher representation from neighborhood stakeholders at court hearing with an eventual decrease in total crime. Brooks Goedeker, Community Development Manager for WUMCRC is looking forward to the positive changes this position can have on the community.

“There are a few bad elements that can really bring down and victimize a neighborhood. The court advocate will be the platform for residents and businesses to be able to track and eliminate those elements from the neighborhood.”

If you or someone you know is interested in the Court Advocate position, please apply by submitting a resume, cover letter, and references to the CWE NSI Office, 4746 McPherson, St. Louis, Missouri, 63108 or email to Jim Whyte at no later than Friday, November 30, 2012. Interviews will take place within the next couple of months with hopes for the Court Advocate to begin by January 1, 2013.




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