JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Kathy Forbes has lived along Hamilton Street in Johnson City most of her life. "My father built this house in 1946, I grew up here," says Forbes.
She says this part of town is not like it used to be. Many of the neighbors she once knew in the area have sold their houses and moved away.
"When things have changed over the years," describes Forbes, "crime and drugs have gotten worse."
The police department says this part of town now sees some of the highest amounts violent crimes. "We are looking at the downtown area, Mountain Home, and West Davis Park those areas in particular," says police chief Mark Sirois.
The department is hoping to take a new approach to stopping the criminal activity with the help of a $800,000 grant. "Work with the community to find out what the issues are, the perceptions are, how to work with the residents businesses to drive down those crime numbers," says Sirois.
An initial $45,000 grant is paying for researchers to walk the streets going door-to-door talking to residents and business owners to see what they are facing.
If the city receives the money it will pay for several new programs plus more officers on the streets doing special patrols.
But the chief wants to make changes to crime fighting that will last far beyond the two years of the grant. "Some of the things we identify that are effective in these areas, they will just on over time," says Sirois.
Once the research is complete Johnson City will submit its final application in March.
Officials are optimistic it will come through because Johnson City was approached about applying for the money.
If Johnson City is approved for the grant, it will become the seventh city in Tennessee to receive the funding. Kingsport is currently using a grant to fund the same type of program to drive down activity in high crime areas.