Lancaster Ambassadors: Same but Different


Lancaster Ambassadors: Same but Different

The Lancaster Ambassadors program will continue! My Lancaster News, a partner with Lancaster Online, reports that Downtown Lancaster has decided to expand their partnership with Block by Block. Under the new contract, Block by Block will be supporting both the clean and safe programs of the city’s Downtown Investment District.

Tony Wright, operations manager of Block to Block, stated, “Our focus is customer service and that’s what we’re going to strive for.”

New changes included in the contract renewal with Block by Block for Lancaster Ambassadors include:

  • 20 additional hours of service per week.
  • Additional clean team and bike squad shifts on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • 168 working hours for the bike ambassadors and 116 clean team hours weekly.
  • The placement of 175 sensors spread across the downtown used for tracking.

Ambassadors will be cross-trained to perform cleaning functions as well as the security functions of the patrolling bike squad. Read more at My Lancaster News.

Learn more about our Lancaster Ambassadors.

Photograph by Marty Heisey.

5 Safety Strategies from 5 of the Safest Cities in the World

Last month, we pulled cleaning strategies from 5 of the cleanest cities in the world. This time, let’s look at 5 of the safest cities in the world to figure out what they’re doing right.

Travel the globe with us once again to uncover 5 strategies for safety taken from 5 of the safest cities in the world.

1. Be available and visible like Vancouver, Canada.

Both Vancouver’s local police force and the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police work hard to be available and active throughout Vancouver. Citizens and tourists know they can easily find and rely on authorities who are dedicated to service, crime prevention and law enforcement.

Encourage the authorities in your district to be available and visible. Just having a law enforcement presence can have a big effect on criminal activity.

Block by Block Ambassadors are an active part of their districts everyday. Our programs help leverage the limited time of law enforcement officers in your district by directing them to specific situations and alerting them to trends. Your safety program can also integrate the efforts of law enforcement and security professionals in your district.

2. Be hospitable like Munich, Germany.

Munich’s slogan is, “Munich loves you.” Along with being available, authorities should be friendly and engage the people in their districts. Munich’s welcoming mantra has given authorities a contagious and hospitable charisma. Munich has reduced crime and increased quality of living largely with changing attitudes.

Efforts to be sociable and pleasant among your law enforcement could create a similar effect.

Block by Block recognizes the power of hospitality. Our Ambassadors specifically seek to find meaningful ways to improve someone’s district experience and focus on continual engagements to deliver smiles and greetings to as many people as possible.

3. Prioritize cleanliness like Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo can attribute much of its high levels of safety to its high cleanliness. In Tokyo, cleanliness is considered public etiquette. Its citizens generally hold each other accountable to keep the city both clean and safe.

At Block by Block, we have seen time and time again how cleanliness directly correlates to safety. Neglecting low level issues such as litter, graffiti, weeds and overflowing trash cans sends a message to visitors that an area may not be well cared for or safe.

This is why Ambassadors remove graffiti as soon as possible, maintain landscaping before it’s overgrown, and actively remove litter and trash.

4. Create safety standards like Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dubrovnik regularly passes safety standards to ensure the safety of its citizens and visitors. For example, Dubrovnik motorways require enclosed service areas and gas stations, tunnels must be equipped with modern safety equipment, and traffic laws maintain a strict blood alcohol limit to reduce traffic accidents.

Even when government mandated safety standards like these are not the norm, creating a set of standards for your district can drastically reduce risk.

Consider pinpointing a couple safety challenges in your district. Reach out to Block by Block to assess those safety challenges and identify standards that could increase security and lower risk in those areas.

5. Create a culture of safety like Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul has several safety disadvantages, such as its dense population, large number of international residents, volcanic and tectonic activity, and less-than-friendly neighbor, North Korea. Despite these challenges, Seoul successfully created a culture of safety for its inhabitants and guests.

Like Seoul, establish safety as a norm of everyday living in your district. Start by identifying advocates of safety in your city and encourage them to connect and pursue safety awareness initiatives.

Block by Block Ambassadors can help you connect citizens, businesses and organizations and challenge them to focus on putting safety first and spreading their results. Increasing communication about safety can snowball into the culture of safety your district deserves.

Bonus Strategy: Look past your obstacles.

Each of these cities has experienced unsafe times of war, loss or turmoil. And each of these cities now ranks on several “Safest Cities” or “Best Cities to Live In” lists across the web.

These cities work hard despite difficult challenges in their pasts. Don’t hold on to your district’s specific trials and history. Look past those limitations and focus on creating a safer environment for your district.

Free Safety Guide

Download our free 360° Approach to Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts Guide to discover an overall strategy to improving safety and perceptions in your improvement district.

Working Together for a Safe Downtown


The New Haven Register features the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new downtown police substation, where New Haven ambassadors, city police, and Yale campus security can work together to create a safe downtown experience. These safety groups have worked together for years already, and they now share a visible space on Church Street across from the Green.

According to the article, Police Chief Dean Esserman hailed the opening as a win for the downtown area and all agencies involved.

“They already do work together, now they share their own home together,” Esserman said, referring to his department, Yale police and the downtown ambassadors.

Together, this new station will create more opportunities for a safe downtown experience in New Haven and for the students, guests and faculty at Yale.

Read more at the New Haven Register.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Stengel, New Haven Register.

Safety Ambassadors Hit Downtown Streets


Grand Rapids Safety Ambassadors

Safety Ambassadors have officially hit the streets in Grand Rapids, MI.  Downtown Grand Rapids launched its Safety Ambassadors program on September 25, 2013.

“The Ambassador program is a creative way to address the nuisance issues, ensure we maximize existing – and often limited – public safety resources, and ultimately provide a better experience and environment for everyone downtown,” says executive director of Dwelling Place, Denny Sturtevant.

The Rapidian describes the Safety Ambassadors as, “[people who] will be available to residents, workers and visitors seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. They are social outreach professionals trained to handle public nuisance issues in a proactive and respectful manner.”

Read more at The Rapidian.

(Photo courtesy of Erik Tank/The Rapidian)

Safety Ambassadors Coming To Downtown Grand Rapids


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– The Downtown Development Authority has approved the hiring of “Block By Block” safety ambassadors to bring in personnel to Grand Rapids.

The group already runs the program out of 65 other cities and the DDA will spend up to $300,000 dollars to start training safety ambassadors in Grand Rapids.

It’s a non-conventional way to look at public safety, a way the DDA is hoping will help increase a sense of safety on the streets of downtown.

Kris Larson with the DDA says the training of the ambassadors and the deployment of them will vary on the needs but they’ll be trained to become an extra set of ‘eyes and ears’ for police.

They’ll be up to ten safety ambassadors patrolling an estimated 270 hours a week.

“They’ll also be working with the business community to stop and collect information on where we’re seeing trends and issues of concern. So then we can modify deployment or alert police of any arising trends we’re seeing,” said Larson.

The work they do will vary, for instance one of the ambassadors may be a licensed social worker. Working directly with people in need and encouraging them to use the services available in the community.

“Dealing with issues related to the perception of safety as well as the health of businesses social service outreach they are really going to be training across a range of disciplines to respond to any situational needs that arise.”

The safety ambassadors are expected to start sometime in the fall.

Read more about the arrival of Block by Block in Grand Rapids at Fox Online.

Free Guide: Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts

Downtown Safety Ambassador on Bicycle

Download Free Downtown Safety Guide

Downtown safety perceptions can change at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t take long for frequent, low-level crime to affect the perception of safety in your city.

Fortunately, addressing quality of life issues with a comprehensive approach to safety and security can go a long way to improving the perceptions of your business improvement district.

In our free guide, A 360° Approach to Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts, we’ll explore concepts that are part of an overall strategy to improving perceptions in downtowns. You’ll learn:

  • How to perform a safety perceptions assessment.
  • The common mistakes BIDs make when launching a safety program.
  • How to counteract negative perceptions.
  • How to develop a street-level strategy.
  • And more!

Click here to download your copy of the guide now.

Free Guide: A 360 Degree Approach to Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts

The Most Common Mistakes in Downtown Safety Programs

Downtown Street Light on Yellow

Negative perceptions regarding the safety of your downtown district are most commonly fueled by repeated, low-level quality of life crimes. By addressing these issues, you can go a long way to improve the safety of your downtown or business improvement district.

But simply throwing more money at the problem and trying cookie-cutter programs usually aren’t the most effective solutions.

In fact, there are two mistakes that many districts make as they’re setting up their downtown safety programs. By avoiding these common missteps, you can start your safety program on the right foot.

Mistake #1: Not Defining Your Mission

A common mistake many improvement districts make when launching a safety program is not defining exactly what it is they want the safety program to accomplish.

For example, consider a few potential objectives:

  • Proactively engage the public to reinforce positive perceptions.
  • Provide a high level of outreach to the homeless.
  • Provide a proactive response to issues related to nightlife.

Chances are your stakeholders are interested in one or more of these, but it’s important to define what the core mission of your safety program will be. All too often safety programs are deployed and their value comes into question in the absence ofclearly defined goals.

Mistake #2: Not Identifying Your Target Audience

All too often downtown organizations get caught up focusing their safety related resources on the very small portion of the population that negatively affects perceptions, whether it is street performers, panhandlers or homeless persons. 

While engaging perception issues is critical, the needs of the vast majority of a district’s user groups are overlooked under this approach.

Focusing on creating a fantastic district experience for visitors should be a critical part of all safety programs. Attention is drawn to the safety program and a positive impression is created when a visitor has a pleasant interaction with a friendly, highly engaging safety Ambassador. Many times this positive interaction is an essential element in counteracting a negative experience with a quality of life issue beyond your control, such as an encounter with a non-aggressive panhandler.

Customized Solutions

Because your downtown district has its own safety challenges and risk factors, developing a safety program customized to your needs is essential. By clearly defining your mission and identifying your target audience, you can avoid the common pitfalls of downtown safety.

For more safety tips and best practices, download our free guide, A 360º Approach to Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts.

Free Guide: A 360 Degree Approach to Safety for Business Improvement Districts

Security Ambassadors Arrive in West Hollywood


Block by Block security ambassadors were chosen after an extensive search and interview process that included the City staff, West Hollywood Sheriff’s personnel, a representative from the business community, and members of the Public Safety Commission. Block by Block serves urban areas and operates four other programs in the Los Angeles area, including one for the Sunset Strip Business Association. They will also participate in the Public Safety Commission’s “Live, Work, Play, Be Safe” campaign on key public safety issues.

The Block by Block security ambassadors assist the Sheriff’s department with identifying and addressing a wide variety of quality-of-life issues. They also collaborate with local businesses, residents and visitors to promote neighborhood livability, and mitigate impacts from nighttime establishments. On the most basic level, the security ambassadors provide attentive customer service and provide directions, business recommendations and parking choices to West Hollywood residents and visitors.

Click here for West Hollywood Local News Coverage

3 Ways to Make Your Downtown Safer

Safety Ambassador Downtown on Bicycle

Best practices and strategies for ensuring a safe Downtown Improvement District have evolved. Those districts who are “in the know” have evolved their safety approach from a reactive to a proactive approach. So what defines an engaged, proactive safety program? For starters, the program must address security challenges from multiple fronts. Read on to learn three ways you can make your downtown safer.

1. Implement a Safety Ambassador Program

One of the best assets in a comprehensive safety program is the presence of uniformed Ambassadors. They act as a crime deterrent and give peace of mind to district visitors. Most importantly, with well-thought-out, customized training, they can proactively engage the low-level quality of life offenses, which the police often don’t have the time to tend to. Safety Ambassador programs, when well positioned, can be an asset to local police by:

  • Better leveraging the visibility of police (more eyes on the district).
  • Watching for specific persons or activities.
  • Disseminating information to stakeholders.
  • Using technology to help police prioritize the issues important to downtown.

2. Complete Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

On the surface, cleaning and maintenance might not seem to have much to do with safety. But take a moment to imagine an area with graffiti-covered walls, overgrown weeds, broken fixtures and trash. There’s a good chance you don’t feel very safe or secure in this area. To combat this negative perception, focus on the following cleaning and maintenance tasks:

  • Trash – Trash should be removed immediately.
  • Graffiti – Graffiti sends a strong signal that an area does not receive attention and is therefore unsecure. Graffiti and nuisance tags (stickers) should be removed immediately.
  • Landscaping – Landscaping should be trimmed so that it cannot be used as hiding places.
  • Lighting – Adequate lighting serves as a natural deterrent to criminals, and increases the effectiveness of both ambassadors and CCTV by improving visibility. It should also be laid out uniformly, so that drivers do not pass rapidly fromlight to dark areas without time for the eye to adjust.

3. Emphasize Hospitality

Proactive engagement of public concerns has replaced standing around waiting for something to happen. Additionally, safety programs focused on continual public engagement can be highly effective in offsetting negative perceptions or experiences outside of the district’s control. This hospitality-focused approach should be woven into every aspect of training, and done so with an emphasis on consistency.

Downtown Safety Solutions

There are a variety of things to think through when evaluating and addressing district safety. For more tips and best practices, download our free guide, A 360º Approach to Downtown Safety for Business Improvement Districts.