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Better Options for Keeping Neighborhoods Clean

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Since the Bryan Police Department took over the responsibility of enforcing city codes three years ago, city and police officials agree it needs some more attention.

Police chief Michael Strope says he's realized there's need for a more active role in cleaning up Bryan neighborhoods.

"We hope to streamline the municipal court process. That will allow us from the date of the citation of the violation to appear in court no longer than 30 days at the very most," says Chief Strope.

Currently, the department gives several notices before issuing out citations, making it longer for things to get cleaned up. These new additions would only help speed up that process.

Twelve percent of low and moderate income housing in Bryan have fallen into the category of dilapidated, meaning the home is unsafe to live in.

Chief Strope is making recommendations to the city on how to improve the current code enforcement laws and make it more effective and efficient.

"We know there's a close correlation between neighborhood decay and crime, like drugs, prostitution, and gang activity. That's one reason why the code was moved to the police department is because of the close correlation of the two elements," says Chief Strope.

Before 2002, code enforcement was not the job of police, it fell under a separate city department. So does the city still think that was a good move?

"I don't know what the benefit will be to move it. It works well for us that they are at the same department because sometimes they have a crossover-the actual code enforcement people-who don't have police officer ability, need to be connected to those police officers so they can work well together. If they're in a different department, it just divides them up more." says Bryan Councilmember, Mark Conlee.

The code enforcement plan is to gain a partnership through a project called Neighborhood Pride.

Sharon Hauke is the supervisor of the code enforcement department. She says the plan is a way for officers and residents of Bryan to report areas that need attention.

"Once we get it to a level, they can maintain it and see that this is the kind of neighborhood we want to live in, and hopefully that will also impact crime in their fear of crime in those neighborhoods," says Hauke.

Cleaning up the neighborhoods would only make it a better place to live.