I’m from Des Moines, Iowa USA, and I have a criminal justice and youth advocacy background. I worked at the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers many years ago, and then at the Woodward Academy up until I launched my small business in 2015.
With the help of an educator
Many years ago, I was sitting in a criminal justice graduate class. Roxann Ryan, the former Iowa commissioner for public safety, asked the class a question: What is, dollar-for-dollar, the most powerful crime-prevention strategy available to law enforcement?
The answer surprised me and changed the trajectory of my life.
Neighborhood associations are the powerful force
It turns out neighborhood associations are a very powerful and cost-effective way to control crime.
Well, suddenly I had a new research interest.
I learned that neighborhood associations—as distinct from homeowners associations—are all over the United States and supported by taxpayer dollars.
Then I discovered that there were neighborhood associations all over Des Moines.
I then became a board member of the Southwestern Hills Neighborhood Association where I live.
The real pivot point was that I was curious as to why Des Moines worked so hard to support neighborhood associations while at the same time leaving the old, fading Neighborhood Watch signs up everywhere.
So, in exploring Neighborhood Watch, I discovered it has a companion that nobody seems to be aware of called Operation Identification (Operation ID).
Operation ID is not some local thing
Operation ID is not some local initiative, but something launched nationwide by the the United State Department of Justice in 1979.
Then it dawned on me that nobody had ever modernized Operation ID for the digital age, so a small business was born.
At the request of Chief Wingert of the Des Moines Police Department (DMPD), the Neighborhood-Based Service Delivery (NBSD) Unit reviewed my product.
After their review, NBSD officers fanned out across the city to share information about the convenience of my modernized strategy, sometimes with me in tow.
Swapping out Neighborhood Watch for Operation ID
The idea is to swap out Neighborhood Watch—signs and all—and replace it with Operation ID. If enough neighbors in a concentrated area implement the strategy, a street sign is given to the public works department.
In the 1960s, people refused to wear seatbelts. In the 1970s, people refused to install smoke detectors. In the 1980s, people refused to implement Operation ID. The big difference being that OperationID faded away.
It’s my goal to bring the strategy back stronger than ever.