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How Your Local Government Can Improve Community Safety: Law Enforcement Steps and 6 Best Practices

By Mary Malcolm

It is the duty of the local government to assess the needs of the community, which includes organizing and implementing community safety strategies across the board. It is only with the promised dedication of the government to protecting the citizens that order remains and community safety threats are mitigated properly to ensure citizens have a feeling of safety. 

Oftentimes, local governments aren’t sure the best ways to prioritize community safety, and due to that, they don’t know where to begin in protecting citizens. The safety and security needs of the community will be unique in every situation and municipality, meaning governments need to pay close attention to their constituents' concerns. 

Luckily, this article serves as your hub for resources, tips, and solutions in streamlining community safety to your municipality. Implementing government software solutions can serve as a key component of community safety. Government Software acts as a digitization solution for local governments that automates administrative tasks, expedites communication between departments, and stores important data in the cloud to aid in organizing community safety practices. 

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Why Does Community Safety Matter? 

The paramount importance of ensuring physical safety must be a top government priority as governments are the entities that enforce safety policies and practices city-wide. A general sense of safety not only provides peace of mind and tranquility for constituents but also enhances the mental well-being of constituents. A secure environment fosters a ripple effect seen via the utilization of public spaces, a surge in local economy as members shop at local businesses, and above all else, the procurement of the community’s trust for government leaders.

To learn more about Constituent Engagement and how it can be affected by community safety, read our resource. 

Why Does Community Safety Need To Be Prioritized By Local Governments? 

Local governments hold the greatest sway over crime control, making community safety reliant on their focused efforts. Historically, police were neighborhood protectors, but their role has shifted as they've become law enforcers, with government agents now assuming the protective role. It's vital for local governments to recognize and address factors contributing to rising crime rates through comprehensive strategies and data analytics. It is vital that local governments explore effective safety strategies and the role local governments must play with assistance from government technology solutions. 

The Most Common Community Safety Concerns 

There are various key common and pressing community safety concerns that local governments must first be aware of before they can mitigate them. Some of these include: 

1. Crime and Violence

Perhaps the most threatening type of safety concern for citizens is violence or fear of victimization. This fear often keeps constituents off the streets, and less involved in their community. Street crime such as burglary, mugging, vandalism, property crime, and violent crime are all common exhibitions of violence in some communities. While this may not be prevalent in your community, that is not without some effort of policymakers, and prevention tactics. Ensure your community is mitigating these issues through laws and policies that protect citizens, and let citizens know that safeguards are in place to protect them from these threats. 

To learn more about alerting citizens with safety updates, check out our resource on How to Manage & Improve Local Public Meetings & Events

2. Unsafe Transportation/ Traffic Accidents

Vehicle safety is only enhanced by the consideration of efficacy in transportation routing and city planning. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported statistics of 2021, including our highest death rate since 2005 caused by motor vehicle accidents. By enhancing public transportation, and diminishing the volume of vehicles on the road, commuters are provided with dependable transportation and reduced likelihood of traffic accidents.

Consider how electric bikes can help keep your streets more clear to reduce traffic congestion, accidents, and constituent frustration on the roads (that often leads to road rage or impaired driving). 

Learn more about How to Improve Local Public Transportation here.

3. Non-walkable Streets 

The extent to which a community embraces the use of walking paths and sidewalks is directly influenced by the accessibility and logistical support in place from the government in providing these options. When residents have concerns related to walking in the dark due to reduced visibility, this dissuades individuals from choosing walking as their mode of transportation. Moreover, sidewalks with inadequate maintenance or a complete absence of walkways render alternatives to driving impracticable for citizens 

15-minute cities have been known to successfully tackle this problem by ensuring citizens have ease of access to all community provisions through on foot, fast, and convenient travel. 

4. Drug Abuse Related Crimes

The national opioid epidemic has left communities concerned about local drug issues, and often has local government officials unsure of how to get ahead of this large-scale safety threat. Even if a significant drug presence isn't apparent in your locality, its absence isn't guaranteed forever. Without necessary resources and outreach programs for citizens, a potential widespread issue looms, urging unity and proactive action by local governments and residents.

Health Department Software from GovPilot can help to mitigate this problem in your community; learn how. 

5. Natural Disasters 

Environmental conditions make certain areas more prone to different potential disasters. For example, geographic factors in states like California create concern for earthquakes. Another example is a city bordered by water is more susceptible to flooding following heavy rain. Disaster preparedness is necessitated by these conditions, and the obligation of community leaders. Local governments harness the potential to create communities of resilience via disaster preparedness. 

6. Environmental Hazards

Climate change concerns are growing world-wide, focusing attention on daily threats that could occur due to environmental changes, and likely concerning constituents. This helps people identify key contributors to environmental risks and make better choices. Pollution, chemical spills, and tainted water exist to some extent locally, requiring efforts via government policy to reduce these hazards for safety. 

Check out these GovPilot resources that will help your community plan to respond to environmental hazards: 

7. Constituent Mental Health

Mental health serves as just as risky for safety concerns as physical safety threats. Without access to the appropriate resources, those with mental illness are unable to receive proper treatment and care. An estimated 20-25% of the homeless population nation-wide suffer from mental illness. With the imminent risk present as an unhoused individual, and even as an individual with housing security (as rates of mental-illness continue to grow throughout the country) the addition of mental illness compromising constituent well-being is frightening. 

Ensuring the well-being of all community members includes the consideration of constituents that require support for their mental health, which should be seen in local community safety strategy. Ensuring mental-health programs, groups, and facilities are ample in your local community will help make constituents feel supported and empowered to tackle their mental health challenges. 

The 6 Best Community Safety Practices To Follow 

Prioritize governance that protects citizens in your local community through these six best safety practices: 

1. Community Policing 

Having a working relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they serve is vital in facilitating the protection of all who live in your community. The cultivation and nurturing of a constructive relationship between police and constituents fosters collaboration throughout a city. Once a positive relationship is established, there is trust built between the officers and their neighbors where officers become known figures, invested in community safety, and this transparency only further bolsters their trustworthiness. 

Active participation of officers within the community allows them to become more intimately acquainted with the local dynamics and various cultures present in your community. This heightened familiarity equips them with a deeper understanding and better capacity to engage in collaborative problem-solving efforts, effectively addressing safety concerns in a more targeted and efficient manner that is specific to their communities. 

  • GovTip: Utilize GovPilot's GIS Mapping Software for in-depth, 3D look at the terrain and mapping of your local community. GIS Maps also provide invaluable information and data about the physical layout of your city, providing vital information to government and law enforcement workers alike. 

2. Neighborhood Watch Programs 

Of course it is important to have your local law enforcement patrolling, but vigilance does not have to stop there. Many communities have implemented a Neighborhood Watch Program to involve constituents and empower them to keep themselves and their neighbors safe. These groups convene internally, at times in cooperation with law enforcement, and join forces in pursuit of a common objective: fostering peace and security within their locality These watch groups survey assigned sections of your community, on the lookout for suspicious activity. Their presence serves as a powerful deterrent, discouraging potential wrongdoers from engaging in criminal behavior within the community.

3. Crisis Preparedness and Emergency Response Efforts

Local governments should be acutely aware of the environmental conditions present in their municipalities. These environmental conditions retain potential to wreak havoc on the community, and to exist without an appropriate community safety plan should such a disaster occur is negligent. These threats go beyond earthquakes or flooding, there must be consideration for public health as well. 

In a post-COVID world, we must be mindful of behaviors that would exacerbate health crises. Keeping up with trends in viruses, staying updated with the best sanitary practices, and providing access to necessary vaccines are all instrumental in keeping the community healthy and safe. Educate constituents on best practices to keep themselves prepared to face contagious diseases and various other emergency situations. 

Ever wonder, How Can My Local Government Implement Disaster Preparedness? Start here and check out the following guides for more specific information: 

4. Improved Walkable Streets 

The installation of seemingly simple additions can truly transform the streets, making them significantly safer for citizens and visitors in your community. Increasing the visibility of walkaways by putting sidewalks on main streets, with a logical traffic pattern is likely to deter criminal behavior and will further illuminate pedestrians, another deterrent for any seeking to inflict violence in the area. GovPilot has advocated for the 15-minute city in the past, a concept that prioritizes the walkability and accessibility of a city, making the trip from one end to the other 15 minutes on foot or bike. 

Curious about how your city planners can Cultivate a 15-Minute City? Found out through our guide. 

5. Provide Mental Health Services

The mental health of the community overall should always be of concern to local governments. It is the duty of the community’s representatives to guarantee the people access to reasonable healthcare, resources, and support. Giving people the appropriate means to advocate for themselves and monitor their own wellbeing through municipal services dulls the likelihood that related issues will eventually become a threat to public safety. 

Consider how war veterans or senior citizens in your city may need extra mental health support from the government, and are often underserved in communities to better target their mental health issues. 

6. Utilize GovPilot’s Innovative Law Enforcement Software

Law Enforcement Software, like what is provided by GovPilot, is a modernized, automated system that streamlines workflows and makes monitoring and managing community safety easy. Administrative tasks are able to be automated via robotic process automation that manages tedious and monotonous workflows to speed them up and increase their effectiveness. With the goal of making administrative member’s and law enforcement’s workflows more logical with the supplementation of the Law Enforcement Software, local governments can make a bigger impact in keeping their community safe, in minimal time. 

Learn all you need to know about Workflow Automation For Governments in our resource.  

Key Law Enforcement Software Solutions To Utilize Now

Luckily for your local government departments, law enforcement solutions exist through government software and technology automation that can make managing safety in your community simple. Here are some of the solutions: 

Report-A-Concern software serves as a digital portal that can be used as a channel for community members to engage with local governments and report their community concerns directly. This direct gateway between leaders and the populations they serve facilitates collaboration and promptness. As word spreads and members begin utilizing the software, it will translate into higher reporting rates, bringing awareness to specific issues in the community. With the embracement of local leaders, they are afforded the means to deliver on citizen satisfaction and enhance service making for stronger communities.

To learn more about How to Report Concerns & Issues to Your Local Government check out our guide. 

Geographic Information System (GIS) software is a software program that generates computerized 3D maps of localities, allowing for layering of geographical points. As the specific data set for your city is created, managed, and manipulated, city planners can workshop layouts for the community, creating an idealistic terrain and safe walking routes through the community. With an optimized roadmap including walking paths, travel routes, and commodities (i.e., streetlights), travel safety is maximized.  

Want a deeper understanding of How GIS Maps Work For Governments? Read our guide! 

Building and construction software works to streamline operations in the creation of disaster-resistant infrastructures. This cutting-edge software serves as a linchpin in the orchestration of well-coordinated emergency management plans, as it equips local governments with the essential tools needed to construct and execute a sophisticated framework. 

This software further enables the efficient construction of safe and reliable disaster resilient infrastructure which . additionally, provides the means to proactively mitigate the potentially disastrous consequences of infrastructure failures through streamlined GovInspect software. Don’t miss out on the utilization of this software as it contributes to the overall safety and well-being of the community by ensuring the safe construction of new and even old infrastructure. 

Code enforcement is the administration of specific rules and guidelines set for a community to maintain order and expectations. Codes can range from aesthetics to rules strictly in the interest of overall safety. Code enforcement software from GovPIlot permits the inspection, consolidation of issue violations, identifications of trends, and enhancement of residents’ quality of life. Such software provides mobilization with cloud-based government management, improving functionality. Moreover, the unified data management eliminates paper processes and centralizes necessary records to make reviewing codes and data simple for government leaders. 

Prioritize Local Safety In Your Community Now 

The paramount importance of safety cannot be over-emphasized and it falls as the direct responsibility of your local government officials to maximize the potential of your community. Implementing government software, such as Law Enforcement, GIS, or Code Enforcement software all provide ease to the automation of safety practices. To learn how these approaches and techniques can be enforced in your locality, book a consultation with GovPilot today

Community Safety FAQs 

  • Why are governments responsible for community safety? 

Local governments leaders are the frontlines of serving the community when it comes to municipal services, policy enforcement, community decision-making and community safety as they are the only ones able to make concrete policy and change to protect citizens. Citizens rely on government leadership to make decisions in their best interest and protect them from internal and external threats to the community including crime, natural disasters, emergency situations, and systemic issues like housing insecurity. Luckily, government management software was developed to make these processes easy for local governments no matter what state you are in. 

  • How can governments improve community safety quickly? 

Governments can make monumental strides in protecting their citizens through the use of various software solutions provided by GovPilot designed to streamline government workflows. Law enforcement and code enforcement software solutions exist to streamline the processes that keep constituents safe, and digitize any manual processes that waste time and money for municipalities. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, Emergency Management, Disaster Recovery