2017 Semifinalist
City of Rutland, VT
January 1, 2017

Project Vision is a proven, verifiable, and holistic strategy that overcomes one of the most vexing problems facing communities in 2016: the scourge of opiate abuse. The initiative recognizes the interconnectedness between all community members and the importance of breaking down organizational silos that inhibit effective, long-lasting solutions. In mid-2012, the police chief launched efforts to change the departmental culture and re-establish trust with the community. Concurrently, the City developed a Community Response Team comprised of in-house assets under authority of the Mayor to reach beyond simplistic policing models with the understanding that they wouldn’t be able to achieve success by arresting their way out of the problem. While some success was experienced, significant resource gaps were identified and subsequently, partners initiated an outreach process to engage disparate community partners. Law enforcement, public health, social services, probation and parole, housing, economic development, education, and faith communities were included to develop a comprehensive, holistic response to the crisis. Following the tragic death of a teenager in 2012 in an auto accident caused by a driver under the influence, community members were mobilized and Project Vision took shape. Over 300 volunteers representing community members and virtually every agency and organization dedicated to the welfare of the region meet monthly to build relationships and share information to reduce criminal activity, provide evidence-based treatment, and revitalize the community. Within the police department’s Vision Center, an embedded mental health clinician, prosecutor, domestic violence and family counselors, correctional officer, building inspector, and crime analyst participate in bi-weekly data-driven CompStat meetings to surgically concentrate resources on locations, offenders, and victims that are driving crime in the community. The housing and economic development team, working with residents and businesses, has revitalized downtown and remediated blighted neighborhoods while providing home-ownership opportunities. Ongoing grassroots community-building projects add to the pride and spirit driving our city-wide renaissance.