II. A PROPOSED INFRASTRUCTURE
The infrastructure recommended by OJP's Response Team is intended to complement and support New Mexico's ongoing efforts to reduce the demand for illegal drugs, interdict drug trafficking, and improve the quality of life in Rio Arriba County. The proposed infrastructure, named the Rio Arriba Community Health and Justice Coordinating Council, is based on lessons learned by the Office of Justice Programs in the course of assisting jurisdictions around the country that have faced challenges similar to those confronting the residents of Rio Arriba County. It contains constructs proven to be effective in a variety of jurisdictions participating in ongoing crime prevention and crime control programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, including the Comprehensive Communities and Weed and Seed Initiatives. When implemented, the proposed infrastructure will focus the combined and coordinated efforts and resources of public health, public safety, and community revitalization agencies and organizations on targeted communities in Rio Arriba County. The infrastructure links federal, state, and local law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives with federal, state, and local service providers. Most importantly, the structure maximizes the participation of citizens and community-based nongovernment organizations (including the private sector) in the initiative. The Health and Justice Coordinating Council recommended for adoption in Rio Arriba County is designed to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the Espanola Valley.
The Council is designed to:
In the short run, the mission of the Council is to provide on-going leadership and coordination of resources in Rio Arriba County in the following critical areas:
To achieve its mission the Council will need accurate, complete and up-to-date information on the status of resources available to the Rio Arriba community in each of the four areas outlined above. With this in mind, the OJP Response Team calls on the appropriate government agencies and organizations in the State of New Mexico to provide the Council with an inventory and description (including appropriated funds and
operational budgets) of all the initiatives, programs, and resources in law enforcement, alcohol and drug prevention and treatment, community revitalization and community crime prevention that can be used in Rio Arriba. When the Council receives this resource inventory it should task its relevant working groups to analyze the information and recommend strategies for an equitable and rational distribution-redistribution of resources based on the needs of the Rio Arriba community. In undertaking this action, the Council will be initiating an important aspect of its proposed coordination function.
The OJP Response Team also has the following specific recommendations for the Council's consideration:
1. The Council should articulate the respective roles and responsibilities of the individuals, public agencies, and private organizations participating under its auspices through a written letter-of-agreement or memorandum-of-understanding. The Weed and Seed initiative in Albuquerque has a tested process for the development of interagency, intergovernmental agreements, and the Council should examine this process for adaption to meet its needs.
2. The Council should play a leadership role in assisting Rio Arriba County to access Community Development Block Grant funds available from the federal government. An independent assessment of Rio Arriba County's economic status and needs conducted under the auspices of OJP finds that "The County of Rio Arriba has been at a great disadvantage, due to the county's inability to complete projects previously funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, funds from this program have been suspended since 1996." The county is currently reapplying for CDBG funds. The OJP-sponsored economic assessment identifies a number of obstacles to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy for Rio Arriba, including;
The OJP Response Team recommends that the Council provide the needed leadership to overcome these and other existing obstacles that currently prevent Rio Arriba from accessing CDBG funds and other economic development resources.
3. The Council should initiate a series of practical steps that will bring the community and the criminal justice system closer together. For example, the Council should explore the feasibility of establishing a community prosecution liaison program in Rio Arriba County.
4. The Council should identify and initiate actions that can be taken by state and county government agencies that will increase the availability, accessibility, and effectiveness of alcohol and other drug treatment programs for individuals who are under criminal justice supervision.
5. The Council should identify and initiate actions that can be taken in the near future to assure access to treatment for addicted residents of communities in Rio Arriba County in which the supply of drugs is disrupted/interdicted by law enforcement actions. These actions should include the establishment of protocols that will facilitate the referral of individuals by hospital emergency units and other primary health care providers to treatment in a timely manner.
6. The Council should take steps to assure that its actions complement the ongoing activities of the CAAC and the Region II CRC by including representatives of these groups on the Council's prevention and treatment working groups.
7. The Council should hold periodic public meetings in Rio Arriba County to provide progress reports to the community and to receive the community's input.
The Council recommended by OJP is designed to support and sustain a
comprehensive strategy that will foster collaboration among government agencies and
community participation in the effort to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and to stop
drug trafficking in Rio Arriba County. Interdiction, prevention, and treatment agencies
and interest groups are included as part of the infrastructure. Key figures in the private
sector and community-based organizations, as well as policy makers and
"implementers" from local, state, and federal government agencies can use the Council
to work together and to leverage
resources to meet commonly defined
goals. The ongoing participation of
citizens representing the business
community, the faith community, and other
local perspectives is recommended as a
way to assure that the area's unique
cultural, historical and traditional values
are represented in the development and implementation of a strategic approach to crime
control and drug abuse prevention/treatment.
The organizational structure of the Council is specifically designed to provide the leadership required to address the challenges that lie ahead, the staff necessary to carry out the Council's routine business, the variety of perspectives and expertise needed to advise the Council as it undertakes it mission and an organized set of work groups that will implement a balanced and comprehensive approach to crime control and crime prevention in Rio Arriba County. The proposed organizational structure is described below.
Leadership - The complexity and dimensions of the social and economic problems in the Espanola Valley are significant, and extraordinary leadership is needed to commit the resources required to address the challenges that lie ahead and to coordinate the talent that will be assembled to employ those resources. Fortunately, such leadership exists in New Mexico. The OJP Response Team has requested the participation and secured the commitment of three key leaders in the state who will co-chair the Rio Arriba Community Health and Justice Council. John Kelly (United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico) will bring the federal government's perspective to the Council's leadership as well as the voice of the law enforcement community. Alfredo Montoya (Chairman, Board of Commissioners of Rio Arriba County) will provide the local leadership, which is critical to the Council's development, implementation, and success. Alex Valdez (Secretary, New Mexico Department of Health) will represent state government at the highest level in the Council and bring the perspective of the prevention and treatment communities to the Council's leadership.
Staff - The OJP Response Team recommends that two full-time staff positions be created to provide the staff support that will be needed to carry out the Council's routine business. These positions should report to the Council Co-Chairs. A program manager should be hired to provide daily coordination of the Council's activities. The individual hired for this position should have credibility with key stakeholders in the community revitalization, law enforcement and public health sectors, and should be able to balance these three perspectives when implementing the Council's work. The person hired as the program manager must possess experience and expertise in the design and facilitation of productive meetings and must be able to communicate across agency/ organizational boundaries (and with the community's representatives) in order to achieve the Council's mission. An evaluator (with experience and expertise in epidemiology) should be hired to coordinate the development and use of both intermediate measures to gauge the Council's progress in achieving its mission and outcome measures to assess the value of the Council's accomplishments. The evaluator should be capable of organizing, collecting, and reporting on quantitative and qualitative indicators that can be used to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the comprehensive strategy employed by the Council to address the social and economic problems in Rio Arriba County. The evaluator's efforts should be closely coordinated with ongoing evaluation, research, and survey efforts being sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health's Behavioral Health Services Division.
The United States Attorney's Office/Law Enforcement Coordinating Council has agreed to provide technical assistance to the Council in the development and implementation of its mission. The SEARCH Group, Inc., an OJP contractor with extensive experience in the design and implementation of management information systems, is prepared to (1) conduct an information systems assessment to guide the design of the infrastructure's recommended research/evaluation component, (2) provide ongoing technical assistance to enhance existing criminal justice information systems and (3) study ways in which justice information systems can be integrated with relevant public health information systems to provide useful data/information for decision-makers. Integration and access to complete and accurate information will, for example, allow drug court judges at the bench to make more informed decisions about an individual's treatment and to evaluate the continued success of that treatment.
Variety of Perspectives - The OJP Response Team recommends that the Council include a wide range of perspectives to provide advice to both the co-chairs and the working groups. The individuals and organizations acting in this advisory capacity should constitute the Executive Committee of the Council along with the Co-Chairs. The following perspectives should be represented on the proposed Executive Committee:
Work Groups - The OJP Response Team recommends that an integrated set of work groups be established to carry out the Council's mission. The work groups should report directly to the Co-Chairs and the individuals directing the work groups should be appointed by the Co-Chairs after consultation with the advisors on the Executive Committee. The work groups should be organized into three sectors: public safety, public health, and community revitalization. The public safety work groups should be composed of representatives from corrections, law enforcement and the courts (including the public defender). The public health work groups should include both prevention and treatment resources and expertise. The community revitalization work groups should include individuals and organizations with experience in strengthening families, enhancing education, and creating jobs.
The organization chart on the following page shows the Council's programmatic elements and the key agencies and organizations that will be critical to its success.
Back to Table of Contents