LISC, Safe & Sound adopt crime prevention awards program

Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Milwaukee chapter and Safe & Sound, Inc. are taking the lead on an awards program that has been honoring crime prevention measures in Milwaukee for the past 65 years.

The two nonprofit agencies will host the 66th Annual Crime Prevention Awards Luncheon on Jan. 27, advancing their relations with Milwaukee police and carrying on a tradition long headed by the Milwaukee Exchange Club.

The awards program historically has honored police officers and outstanding citizens making an extra effort to reinforce the safety of area neighborhoods.

When Leo Ries, executive director of LISC Milwaukee, attended the 2014 awards program and learned that the Milwaukee Exchange Club was not going to be able to continue facilitating the awards, he brought LISC and Safe & Sound aboard to ensure the program’s survival.

In recent years, the Milwaukee Exchange Club’s membership has dwindled, and the organization as a whole has taken on a less active role in the community.

But the awards program launched by the club is a critical one, according to Ries, as it shifts attention toward the personal stories of individuals making a true community impact.

People need to be inspired by what is possible, Ries said, adding that the best way to motivate and inspire is through personal stories. The Crime Prevention Awards Program highlights real, practical, everyday ways in which people “are making a difference,” he said.

The Crime Prevention Awards feature a set of law enforcement awards and community awards. Law enforcement categories salute an outstanding community liaison officer, an outstanding professional contribution, an outstanding civilian contribution and an officer hurt or killed on the job through the “Blue and Gold Award.”

Community award categories honor an outstanding individual involved in crime prevention, an outstanding block club or community collaboration, an outstanding corporation or business, an outstanding faith-based organization, and an outstanding greater Milwaukee partnership.

After making a public call for nominations and closing that call last week, LISC and Safe & Sound are turning to a committee of community members to vet submissions and select finalists for law enforcement awards. A separate law enforcement committee will review the community award nominations.

Finalists will likely be announced in mid-December, according to Anne Temple, development and communications coordinator at Safe & Sound.

Much of the structure of the 2015 awards program builds off the framework of previous years’ programs, but LISC and Safe & Sound aim to draw more sponsors to the event and elevate the profile of the awards program in the community.

“By collaborating on this we figure we can respectively reach out to our respective networks in order to generate greater interest and support for the program,” Ries said.

Moving forward, the organizations also want to structure the awards program as an educational tool on crime prevention and community safety.

“We also have to educate the broader community about this work and about why everyone needs to step up,” Ries said.

The 2015 Crime Prevention Awards Luncheon is scheduled for noon on Jan. 27 in the Grand Ballroom of the Wisconsin Club, located at 900 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee.

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