FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENIJ
FRIDAY, MARCH 19, 1999202/307-0703

OAKLAND PROGRAM REDUCES COMPLAINTS IN DRUG-RELATED CASES

Deputy Attorney General Cites Successful Effort During Visit Here

Oakland, CA - An innovative program carried out by the Oakland Police Department has resulted in fewer drug-related complaints, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder announced today at a Community First event in the Bay Area city. The Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) evaluated the police department's Beat Health program, which uses civil statute sanctions to require landlords to address drug and disorder problems on their properties.

According to NIJ's evaluation of the 6-month effort, the Oakland program resulted in noticeably cleaner properties, more legitimate use of the streets and fewer drug-related complaints by police officers. The report indicates that in the year following, the results continued to be positive. The NIJ study finds that drug calls dropped by 16.2 percent in the Beat Health residential sites.

"This innovative program is an example of how law enforcement can use existing civil remedies to reduce crime," said Deputy Attorney General Holder. "It also shows how residents, neighborhood organizations and local government agencies can work together to help build safe and healthy communities."

The Oakland Police Department Beat Health Unit is made up of a small group of patrol officers mandated to reduce drug and disorder problems in the city. The unit opens a case after making a preliminary visit to a site that has come to its attention because of a high number of calls for service by police, narcotics arrests on the property, specials requests from community groups for police assistance and citizen complaints.

"The approach used by Oakland has potential to help other cities in their efforts to clean up their streets," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis. "The effort should definitely be considered by other cities as a possible approach that could also work in their communities."

The NIJ study indicates that the Beat Health program succeeds in Oakland because the police have developed good working relationships with other city agencies. The Justice Department research notes that while many city agencies have systems for addressing problems brought to their attention by the police, most interaction conducted between law enforcement agencies and other city departments is not formalized.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the Department of Justice, is the primary sponsor of criminal justice research and evaluations of programs to reduce crime. For additional information about NIJ, the Internet address is http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij.

General information about the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

The research report is available on the Internet at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij, or from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) by calling toll-free, 1-800/851-3420.

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