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Aurora, Illinois

The Problem

In 2014 and 2015, the city of Aurora experienced a sharp increase in violent and property crime. Much of this crime was concentrated in a small number of police districts, where there were few neighborhood groups, and trust in police among residents was low.

The Solution: Neighborhood Group Support Initiative

Residents collaborated with city staff to create new neighborhood groups throughout the city, especially in neighborhoods where crime rates were high. The city also provided extensive support for new and existing groups, including starter kit to assist new groups, and helped community members organize events that built trust between residents and police.

How it Works

The initiative focused on building trust between neighbors and between residents, police, and other city officials.

  • City staff worked with police and city aldermen to identify residents who could serve as neighborhood group leaders, with a focus on areas with a high crime rate.
  • City staff spoke at religious services and other community events and canvassed neighborhoods to learn about resident concerns and invite them to become part of a neighborhood group.
  • The city provided a starter kit for new neighborhood groups that included materials to help residents conduct meetings and organize activities. City staff also developed community resource guides, customer service request forms, and other handouts to be distributed at meetings and events.  
  • Police and city officials attended neighborhood meetings to report on events in the neighborhood and to hear citizens’ concerns.  
  • City staff encouraged Neighborhood Night Out and Neighborhood Connection events, providing tools to help groups organize the events and small grants of $250-$500 to support their activities. Police and other city officials participated in the events to interact with residents and build trust.


The Results

In the first year of the program, the crime rate had dropped by 7% in the areas with the highest rates of violent and property crime and another 9% the following year. City-wide, crime in Aurora fell by 20% between 2016 and 2018.

  • The number of neighborhood groups in Aurora has doubled. The majority of the new neighborhood groups were created in areas with high levels of crime.
  • Participation in Neighborhood Night Out events has also increased dramatically, from five events in 2015 to more than 40 in 2018, attended by 8,500 residents.
  • Connections formed between police and citizens at these group meetings and neighborhood events have led to specific community improvements.
    • In one area, residents brought up a concern about unlit alleyways, spurring the city to provide new security lighting for residents’ homes.
    • In another neighborhood, citizens helped police learn about and stop a local drug operation.
Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award

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