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July 3, 2015

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Public Safety:

Improvements planned to boost pride, further reduce crime in public housing development


Yasmina Chavez

The community clothes lines and backyard area of the Sherman Gardens apartments are seen on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The Sherman Gardens community will be undergoing outdoor renovations as part of a community improvement plan.

Sherman Garden Improvement Celebration

A two story duplex is seen at the Sherman Gardens apartments on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The Sherman Gardens community will be undergoing outdoor renovations as part of a community improvement plan. Launch slideshow »

Sherman Gardens Annex

Just two years ago, Sheriff Doug Gillespie thought of broken windows, shootings and drug deals when the area containing Sherman Gardens Annex came to his mind.

His thoughts changed to ones of hope Wednesday as Metro Police officers, the Southern Nevada Housing Authority and other partners broke ground on a new makeover project for the public housing development on Doolittle Avenue, near West Lake Mead Boulevard and H Street, northwest of downtown.

“This is a piece of the puzzle that is going to look like other pieces of the puzzle,” Gillespie said. “I don’t want to say it’s finished yet because you can see we still have a lot of work.”

The project has been in planning for two years and is the brainchild of a coalition consisting of Metro’s Safe Village Initiative team and the Southern Nevada Housing Authority. Their focus: to rehabilitate the outdoor spaces of troubled areas.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has chipped in, too. Patrick Wilson, a conservation administrator with the Water Authority, said the partnership plans to pay for half of the $400,000 project with water rebates. With the makeover, the housing community will avoid using 17.5 million gallons of water a year.

The other $200,000 needed for the project, Wilson said, will have to come from donations.

Preliminary steps have been under way for several weeks, with the more major work expected to begin in the next three weeks.

In nine months, the old and cracked basketball courts will be updated and a grass field will be laid for youth football games. Tenacious Bermuda grass soon will be gone, and authorities hope any lingering crime will be, too.

Doug Bennett, conservation administrator for the Southern Nevada Water Authority said the goal was to get people to have pride in their living space. Trees, landscaping and an outdoor movie area are intended to help foster the pride.

“The key is to get residents to take ownership,” Bennett said.

For Capt. Larry Burns of Metro’s Bolden Area Command, the area’s rehabilitation is becoming complete. There are no longer shootings every month, and the broken glass that once littered the area is gone.

He’s proud of the direction of the community. With the community and the police reaching out to each other, problems are calming in the area, and progress is ready to be made.

“I think this will work (if we) make it feel like something they want to be a part of,” he said.

Violence in any place in Las Vegas is unacceptable, Gillespie said.

“If we’ve become calloused,” he said. “We need to take a hard look at ourselves.”

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  1. Over 20 years ago the LVMPD had a Neighborhood Police Team (NPT) with substations in the middle of Gerson Park and Sherman Gardens. The pictures that go with this story don't show any difference from two decades ago.

    Sgt. Bobby Gronauer and Officer Tony Plew were among the first members of Metro to try to build a partnership and make a difference. Officers Ted Snodgrass and Steve Custer than started the Gerson Park boy scout troop and the police department reached out to the community in many other ways. Ultimately, the NPT was assigned to work the two housing developments and attempt to build some long term relationships and trust.

    The substations were damaged during the Rodney King Riots in 1992 and the program faded away under Zagorski and Edwards and others.

    While it is nice to see 'old wine in new bottles' Gillespie (and others) who were involved in 'hard' policing back then (SWAT) pretty much MOCKED the early efforts of Gronauer, Snodgrass, et. al.. They thought this was soft on crime and a waste of time. Others, like current Deputy Chief Jim Owens, actually participated in basketball games with actual gang members in an attempt to break down barriers. He was just a street cop then...and none of us were doing it to get our names in the paper or to try to win favor to get re-elected.

    If history is not to repeat itself the 'new' officers should be given the details of the past efforts and outcomes. If there any truth in their hearts this time around or are they just manipulating people and things for their own benefit?

    They are just doing this for some positive publicity. Do a status check on all of the names and faces in the picture in two years ...

    If there is not a plan to sustain true relationships over the long haul the only thing that will happen is that crime will be displaced and the publicity seekers will get some face-time and spend some money continuing to PRETEND that they care! Does the sheriff really CARE?

  2. We're supposed to have a 2 year / 5 year lifetime limit on anyone receiving social welfare benefits. Therefore, we should NOT EVEN HAVE public housing other than senior-only apartments. It is an oxymoron to suggest any family can live long-term in public housing AND have any real sense of pride.