Mid-City CAN knows that children’s safety is important. In 2009, we conducted 105 house meetings with more than 1,500 residents in 13 languages in City Heights. At these house meetings, we heard that message over and over. Parents told us that they feared for their children’s safety and often did not let their children outside to play.

Despite this desire for safety, curfew sweeps have divided the community. For some, curfew sweeps are an effective prevention program that keeps adults and children safe. For others, curfew sweeps represent cultural insensitivity and an undue burden on families.

These concerns don’t take away from the hard working men and women in law enforcement. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. We are grateful for this. The Mid-City CAN Peace Promotion Momentum Team has spearheaded many efforts to show appreciation to police officers and help build this relationship. A few examples include an appreciation breakfast, dessert drop and work to develop resident-officer study circles. Many community volunteers also are worthy of appreciation.

However, if our goal is safety, how do we know that our time and efforts are well spent? Periodically, we need to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts.

The key questions are: Are we getting the results we want? How do we know if curfew sweeps really make us safer? If we don’t have any data — or the right data — then we really don’t know. If the sweeps are effective, should we duplicate them in other areas? If the sweeps are not effective, are there other things we can do? The only way we can really know if our efforts are helping us become safer is by asking questions and evaluating. For the safety of our children, we cannot afford not to.

Diana Ross is the collaborative director for the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network. You can reach her at dross@midcitycan.org.

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