PALMDALE – Hoping to continue the city’s declining crime rate, city officials announced Thursday that they will spend $825,000 a year on an anti-crime initiative that will rely heavily on citizen volunteers. Partners for a Better Palmdale will include enhanced Neighborhood Watch programs, new and expanded youth programs and the creation of a citizens academy and neighborhood commissions, as well as a home-repair financing program. In addition to annual operating costs, the program will cost an estimated $82,000 to launch. “We’re so convinced we’re on the right track with this, we’re looking at an influx of resources on this,” Mayor Jim Ledford said. The idea for the program came out of strategic planning sessions held last fall among council members, city staffers, and law enforcement and criminal justice representatives. City officials were pleased with Palmdale’s 5percent decline in crime last year and want the trend to continue. Ledford said the city hopes the three-prong approach to fighting crime – the city, law enforcement and residents – will have a lasting impact on public safety. “Without the community, this doesn’t work,” Ledford said. A key component will be supporting the city’s youths, adding classes for anger management, life skills, community service, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and safety. A program coordinator will be hired in May to oversee the workshops. “The key to this is the youth,” Councilman Tom Lackey said. “If we are unsuccessful here, we will have limited success.” The city also hopes to designate a number of “neighborhood homes,” which would serve as a base of operations services such as tutoring, hosting Neighborhood Watch meetings, and meet-and-greet sessions with city officials and staffers. The city would look for donated properties, but it also could rent or purchase the homes for up to five years. State laws regarding redevelopment require the homes to be made available for low-income housing after five years. “Hopefully, within that five-year period, we will make a significant impact on the community,” said Mike Adams, Palmdale’s housing manager. The first neighborhood home is planned for Fifth Street East and AvenueQ-3 – an area where a teen was fatally shot in November and where shots were twice fired at deputies last summer. Plans also call for two crime-prevention officers to be hired and the Neighborhood Watch programs expanded in April. Two more crime-prevention officers would be hired in July, according to the plan’s tentative schedule. A volunteer coordinator would be hired in May to recruit, screen, assess and assign residents to various city efforts, officials said. Between July and October, other elements of the program would start to come into play, including the citizens academy to train people about how city government works and what programs and resources are available; the expansion of family-oriented programs, such as parenting classes; the neighborhood councils; and the expansion of city grants and loan programs that are used to spruce up neighborhoods. To gauge the effectiveness of the effort, the city is planning to form a citizens task force that would set measurements for which the program would be judged. The city is also looking at conducting surveys of residents to see whether the effort is having any impact. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!