Combating simple crime like graffiti and shoplifting. It's sometimes problematic for cities with limited budgets to prosecute such crimes. But the city of Yakima is trying to change that. In 2016 the city started the community diversion program. the Program uses a problem solving approach to crime designed to address recurring low level crime.  Through partnerships with government, community and treatment organizations, the Community Diversion Program is designed to hold defendants accountable, address factors impacting criminal behavior and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.
According to the city 30 people have successfully completed and graduated from the Community Diversion Program.  Of the 30, three have new convictions but 75% of graduates remain crime free. City officials say one of the graduates was admitted to college this past year.
But COVID restrictions have slowed the program because it's now virtual. The city recently renewed a lease agreement to continue the program that's operated out of Seasons Performance Hall. Officials say face to face contact is vital to keeping participants engaged, so they have implemented changes to make sure they can continue to meet with participants regardless of COVID infection rate in the community.