A new social development and crime prevention partnership involving a number of Canadian resource people is underway in the Dominican Republic.
The planning stages began in 2011 when I met with Carolyn Jones, President of Happy Earth Inc. The goal is to create a safe and healthy community that can be a model for improved quality of life in the Dominican Republic. This project is being referred to as the Safe Communities initiative and we have been engaged in the first stage of the project this November (2012).
Our goal this trip is to learn about local issues and to introduce some of our best practices and methodologies in an effort to reduce crime and create safer communities. Through these discussions new partnerships are already being formed with the understanding that we are here to help and will provide on-going support on a long-term basis. We are already off to a great start with a wide range of people who are passionate about their community stepping forward. This now includes government officials, police, healthcare professionals, youth and most importantly, community members from both urban and rural areas.
The Safe Communities initiative will use a well-balanced approach featuring Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), including 2nd Generation principles that support Crime Prevention through Social Development. The project will also rely heavily on Asset Development, based on best practices and research by the Search Institute. The initiative will focus on prevention, awareness, education and also include some intervention throughout the pilot communities of Hato Mayor and a very poor rural community being renamed “New Hope” as a result of our work last week.
This shift towards prevention will be something new for the Dominican Republic as most of their current resources are geared towards enforcement. In addition to the strategies noted above, we will share tips from the Alberta Crime Prevention Framework and Gang Reduction Strategy. A key focus will be to ensure that roles and responsibilities are carefully defined and the pilot communities are closely involved at every stage. A local steering committee has been formed.
We are excited to see this “New Hope” emerge in the Dominican Republic and to have met some of the most caring and passionate community leaders you will find anywhere.