A New Approach
In 2013, the former Chief of Police for the City of Rutland, James Baker, spearheaded the formation of Project VISION with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Christopher Louras and the Board of Aldermen. The Rutland City Police Department and Chief Baker were motivated to establish PV because of the understanding that the challenges facing our community were not going to be resolved simply by making more arrests and holding tough on criminal activity alone. Rather, real change for Rutland required addressing the numerous interwoven and underlying conditions of criminal activity and broader public health issues. Such an approach expanded far beyond the resource capabilities of the Rutland City Police Department, or any organization or agency for that matter, so real and substantive change for Rutland required a broad and collaborative community effort across numerous partners. And so, Project VISION was formed.
From the start, organizations and agencies serving the people of Rutland became Project VISION partners because of their recognition for the importance of a formal coalition. Prior to PV, the organizations and agencies of Rutland still pursued collaboration opportunities, but the Project VISION coalition offered a new and comprehensive structure to better coordinate and integrate collaboration. During these early years, the coalition concentrated its collaborative efforts in Rutland City’s Northwest Neighborhood and focused on three main areas of concern: treating addiction and substance abuse; reducing crime; building great neighborhoods.
Project VISION Today
As the number of Project VISION’s partners grew, so did the coalition’s geographic focus. With greater organizational capacity, the coalition gradually expanded its focus from the Northwest Neighborhood to all of Rutland City throughout the second half of the 2010’s. Then, in 2020, Project VISION underwent a strategic planning process to update PV’s mission to the current realities of the city. From this planning process, Project VISION formed two committees, the Health Committee and the Community Building and Neighborhood Committee, to be the focus groups that develop PV’s action steps. Additionally, Project VISION is now expanding it’s geographic focus to the surrounding towns and neighborhoods within Rutland County and actively encourages new partners from these nearby locations to become coalition partners. This expansion doesn’t detract from our focus and commitment to Rutland, but it reflects the reality that surrounding neighborhoods are fundamentally interwoven with the dynamics of Rutland City.