A Lawrence city commissioner will serve on the Koch Crime Commission's task force on community values.
City Commissioner John Nalbandian will bring academic and civic expertise to a group that is studying the relationship between deteriorating community values and crime.
Nalbandian, professor of public administration at Kansas University, will do so as a member of the Koch Crime Commission's task force on community values and culture.
"Public safety is the base value. It's most basic of all public expectations," said Nalbandian, elected to the city commission in 1991.
"One of the reasons people have questioned the credibility of their government is because we don't seem to be able to solve problems that people believe are basic to their existence," he said.
The Koch Crime Commission is headed by William Koch, chief executive of Oxbow Group. The privately financed commission was authorized by Gov. Joan Finney to search for solutions to crime in Kansas.
Nalbandian said fading community values was more a problem of large U.S. cities than in small-town America, which does a better job of maintaining community spirit.
"I say our biggest challenge is how do we (Lawrence) retain a sense of community as we grow?" Nalbandian said. "How do we turn residential areas into neighborhoods? It's very hard."
He said restoring and sustaining community ties was difficult in high-crime areas where neighbors fear the people living among them.
"You must have a connection there. If they're afraid of each other, you don't get that," Nalbandian said.
He said people without a sense of community often feel that they don't count, get cynical and turn inward. The result is community division, he said.
Other members of the task force: District Court Judge Daniel Brooks, Wichita; the Rev. Pat Ault-Duel, Hays; middle-school coach Waymon Johnson, Topeka; YMCA executive Cary Massey, Kansas City, Kan.; El Centro community center head Richard Ruiz, Kansas City, Kan.; and Pittsburg State University President Don Wilson.