Empowering Communities

To Address Crime

Federal and state agencies, along with urban, rural, and tribal communities, have learned that no one program or organization alone can effectively promote safer neighborhoods. Improving the quality of housing, education, employment, economic opportunities, environment, and health care resources available to all families and communities - especially in neighborhoods where high rates of crime and poverty co-exist - is difficult. Research and experience have demonstrated that the principle behind building safe and healthy communities is in the shared understanding of local needs and issues and the flexibility to address these local needs and issues. This approach involves a number of building blocks leading to positive change in our communities, which include:

OJP has worked to build on community partnerships and expand them throughout the justice system as a whole. During FY 2000, OJP continued to encourage the development of systemwide strategies such as the Weed and Seed program, in which federal and local prosecutors and law enforcement work together to "weed" violence and drug dealing from a specific geographic area, and work with government and private housing, employment, and social service agencies to "seed" an area with jobs, livable housing, and opportunities for youth.


In FY 2000, statistical data provided OJP insight into how these systemwide strategies have affected our nation's communities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, Criminal Victimization 1999-Changes 1998-99 with Trends 1993-99, released in August 2000, the nation's violent crime rate fell by more than 10 percent during 1999, reaching the lowest level since BJS started measuring it in 1973. There were an estimated 28.8 million violent and property crimes during 1999, compared to 44 million such incidents counted in the first year of BJS' National Crime Victimization Survey. The report stated that every major type of personal and property crime measured decreased between 1993 and 1999.

The 1999 data indicated:

According to preliminary Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data, homicides declined about 8 percent last year. Historically, males accounted for about three-quarters of the murder victims, and about one in eight of the murder victims was less than 18 years old. Property crime rates continued a 25-year downward trend, dropping 9 percent from 1998 to 1999 - from 217 per 1,000 U.S. households to 198 per 1,000 households.

In October 2000, BJS released the report, Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97. The number of gunshot wounds from any type of crime fell nearly 40 percent during the 5 year period from 1993 through 1997, according to the comprehensive report. BJS cites data from multiple sources, including its National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), as well as hospital emergency department intake information and death certificates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and law enforcement homicide reports from the FBI. Twenty-eight percent of the serious, non-fatal violent victimizations that occurred from 1993 through 1997 were committed with a firearm. According to BJS' household survey of crime victims, 4 percent of the serious victimizations were committed with a firearm and resulted in injuries, and less than 1 percent resulted in gunshot wounds. About 80 percent of gunshot wound victims sought medical treatment in a hospital.

The CDC data showed that gunshot wounds from any type of crime fell 39 percent - from 64,100 to 39,400 - during the 5 year period. Firearm-related homicides fell 27 percent - from 18,300 to 13,300 - during the same period. The BJS report said the CDC's Firearm Injury

Surveillance Study showed that 62 percent of non-fatal firearm injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms were assaults, 17 percent were accidents, 6 percent were suicide attempts, 1 percent were from law enforcement activity, and 13 percent were from unknown causes.

The CDC's Vital Statistics data indicated that 44 percent of firearm deaths were homicides. CDC's data further showed that, during the 5 year period from 1993 through 1997, there were an estimated 3.3 non-fatal gunshot injuries from assaults treated in emergency rooms for every single firearm-related homicide. According to CDC and FBI data, four out of five victims of both fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries from assaults were male and nearly half of all victims were black males. Black males ages 15-24 made up 26 percent of all the non-fatal gunshot victims and 22 percent of all homicides, according to data from the FBI.

The BJS report also indicates that 38 percent of the gunshot assault victims and 31 percent of the homicide victims were ages 18 to 24, while juveniles under 18 years old accounted for 16 percent of non-fatal firearm assault victims and 10 percent of firearm homicides.

FBI statistics indicated that from 1993 to 1997, 60 percent of offenders who used a firearm to commit murder were younger than 25: 17 percent were juveniles (younger than 18 years old) and 24 percent were between 18 and 20 years old. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports indicated that 1 percent of serious violent crimes reported to police from 1993 to 1997 were homicides, 69 percent of which were committed with firearms.

For 56 percent of the non-fatal firearm assault victims the relationship to the offenders was unknown. Approximately 11 percent were injured by someone known to them. According to firearm homicide data in the FBI's Supplemental Homicide Reports, the victim's relationship to the offender was unknown in 41 percent of cases, while in 44 percent of the cases, the

killer was someone the victim knew and in 15 percent the killer was a stranger. Among gunshot assault cases where the firearm type was provided, 82 percent of non-fatal victims were shot with a handgun. In firearm homicide cases, 81 percent of victims were killed with a handgun, 6 percent with shotguns, 5 percent with rifles, and 7 percent with unspecified firearms.

Data reported to the FBI indicated that in 1998 more than 400 police officers were injured in firearm assaults, and 58 police officers were killed by a firearm while responding to a crime. The firearm injury rate for police officers declined in the early 1980s and began climbing again after 1987. In the late 1990s, however, firearm injury rates fell to their lowest level in the 1978-1998 period. Additional reports released by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) regarding community-based programs also provided valuable information. In April 2000, BJA issued Keeping Illegal Activity Out of Rental Property: A Police Guide for Establishing Landlord Training Programs. This report focused on a Landlord Training Program in Portland, Oregon, and described how property owners, tenants, and law enforcement agencies cooperated to combat drug-related crime, particularly through effective property management and techniques that discouraged drug activity on rental property. The report also served as a training manual for communities that wished to start a Landlord Training Program. Such programs exist in 22 states.

Kids' Korner Program: City of Reno, Nevada Police Department, a BJA publication issued in June 2000, described an initiative that teams law enforcement, public health, social service agencies, and public and private organizations in assisting low-income families who live in local motels due to high housing costs. Under Kids' Korner, which began in 1996, police officers routinely visit motels to check on the status of children and refer families to appropriate community resources. On May 23, 2000, Kids' Korner received the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's New American Community Award.

In July 2000, BJA released Memphis, Tennessee Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team, a bulletin focusing on the efforts of specially trained law enforcement and medical personnel who respond to 911 emergency calls involving the mentally ill. Originally conceived as a response to the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill in the 1960s, the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is now a success, with over 200 of the 900 patrol officers as members. The Memphis CIT works in conjunction with the University of Tennessee Medical Center, families of the mentally ill, and emergency medical and psychiatric services. It has inspired other cities around the country, including Albuquerque, New Mexico and San Jose, California to implement similar programs.


The Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), which began in five cities nationwide in 1998, takes a problem-solving approach to a specific, local crime problem and increases the capacity of U.S. Attorneys to work in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement and community partners in reducing local crime.

SACSI tests the assumption that crime is most effectively reduced by:

SACSI is operating in Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; New Haven, Connecticut; Portland, Oregon; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with each city focusing on a crime problem of significance within its community. The initiative has five distinct steps, or stages:

Though direct federal funding for the first five sites has ended, all are continuing their efforts, some in significant new ways. In Winston-Salem, widespread community support for this work has resulted in nearly $2 million in foundation funding to establish the Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University. The Center will expand the strategic approaches work in Winston-Salem and also serve as a training center for other communities in the problem-solving approach. The University of Memphis is developing a Center for Community Criminology and Research to help prepare researchers to work directly with communities. Portland, Indianapolis, and New Haven are beginning to apply this approach to problems such as offender reentry and domestic violence.

In FY 2000, five new sites were designated as strategic approaches sites to reduce violent firearms-related crime. They are St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Rochester, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. A training curriculum has been developed by the Justice Department to transfer lessons learned to these new sites and to others interested in adopting the SACSI approach. Key players from the first five sites will administer the training in the new sites, and to other interested districts. This curriculum will also soon be offered at the National Advocacy Center, as part of core training for incoming U.S. Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys.


In 2000, the Department of Justice supported police and prosecutorial agencies in responding to hate crimes. The Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) convened a policy briefing on hate crimes in January 2000. In conjunction with the two-day policy meeting, where federal, state, and local officials shared information about effective strategies employed across the nation to respond to hate crimes, BJA presented a 15-minute video and accompanying brochure to assist law enforcement officers in preventing and investigating hate crimes.

The video, "Responding to Hate Crimes," was a collaborative effort between BJA and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The materials were the result of the 1997 White House Conference on Hate Crimes and the later IACP Summit on Hate Crimes in America. The video was sent to approximately 16,000 police and sheriffs' departments across the country. These materials were also presented at BJA's policy briefing for State Administrative Agency Directors, who collectively administer over $600 million annually in BJA funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants (LLEBG) Program, as well as other federal and state funds.

In March 2000, OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) released the first two reports in a series of hate crime bulletins, Addressing Hate Crimes; Six Initiatives That Are Enhancing the Efforts of Criminal Justice, and Promising Practices Against Hate Crimes: Five State and Local Demonstration Projects.

The first bulletin focused on the following innovative efforts by police and prosecutors to improve systems for responding to hate crimes.

Promising Practices Against Hate Crimes: Five State and Local Demonstration Projects discusses five BJA-funded demonstration programs - located in Los Angeles, California, San Diego, California, Maine, and Massachusetts - that are among the nation's most promising models for confronting and reducing bias-motivated acts. These programs demonstrate that the most effective approaches include coordination among all components of the criminal justice system, focused efforts to address the needs of the victims of hate crimes, diversion programs for youth, and activities encouraging tolerance in our schools.

In addition, BJA funded Combating Prejudice and Hate on Campus, the first national student symposium on preventing and reducing hate crime and bias incidents on American college campuses. More than 300 students, faculty, and administrators from 70 educational institutions attended the event, held March 23-24, 2000 in Boston, Massachusetts.


A critical DOJ priority is to help tribal governments build comprehensive and effective law enforcement and public safety systems that will provide a foundation for safe communities. As part of this important initiative, several OJP bureaus and offices provide funding and support to tribal communities. The goal of the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement (CIRCLE) Project is to enhance tribal governments' response to public safety and to improve the quality of life in tribal communities. The CIRCLE Project promotes the intertribal exchange of ideas and experiences. It also fosters coordination within the three participating Indian tribes - the Northern Cheyenne, the Oglala Sioux, and the Pueblo of Zuni - for more efficient and effective use of resources. It combines comprehensive problem-solving - planning, implementation, and evaluation - with traditional tribal justice practices and support from a broad range of federal partners.

On December 5, 2000, OJP participated in the second cluster meeting of the CIRCLE Project held in Zuni, New Mexico. Other participants included representatives from DOJ agencies such as the Office Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), U.S. Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Office of Tribal Justice, as well as other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. These federal agencies and tribes are working together to channel technical assistance and resources to the CIRCLE sites.

Major FY 2000 BJA-funded initiatives for American Indian and Alaska Native communities included the Tribal Court Assistance Program, Crime Analysis and Planning Strategies for American Indian and Alaska Native Communities, and the Alaska Native Technical Assistance and Resource Center.

As part of the Department of Justice's FY 2000 Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative, BJA helped American Indian and Alaska Native communities to develop, enhance, and operate tribal courts. This funding, administered under the Tribal Court Assistance Program, recognizes that tribal courts are the most important vehicle for maintaining security and restoring the community in Indian Country. They give Native American communities a forum to address specific issues such as substance abuse and domestic violence, and promote tribal sovereignty and self-government. Awards under the first component of this initiative funded either new

tribal courts or improvements to existing courts in areas such as case management, court personnel training, equipment acquisition, indigent defense services, and diversion programs.

The second component of the initiative provided training and technical assistance for tribal court grant recipients and created a National Tribal Court Resource Center. The Center's initial goals are to create a clearinghouse of existing tribal judicial resources, establish a toll-free help line for tribal justice systems, develop a free searchable database of tribal justice system opinions, provide online reference and research assistance services through the Center's Website (www.tribalresourcecenter.org), and establish a mentor system for tribal justice systems.

In 1998, BJA began regional Community Analysis and Regional Planning Strategies training for tribal leadership and communities with large portions of diverse Native American populations. Managed by Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, these 4-day executive-level training sessions assist tribal jurisdictions as they develop a comprehensive model for identifying crime risk and assessing its impact.


On May 8, 2000, OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) co-sponsored a week-long economic crime summit in Austin, Texas. More than 1,000 public and private sector economic crime security professionals from around the world attended the conference to learn about the latest crime trends and strategies to thwart economic crime. Plenary sessions and workshops focused on e-commerce crime, health care fraud, identity fraud prevention, telemarketing offenders and victims, fraud prevention for the elderly, and national programs and federal offices that offer support to fraud victims.


Weed and Seed The Weed and Seed approach is a coordinated strategy that works to make a wide range of public and private sector resources more accessible to communities. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorneys, the strategy brings together federal, state, and local crime-fighting agencies, social service providers, representatives of public and private sectors, business owners, and neighborhood residents and links them in a shared goal of weeding out violent crime and gang activity while seeding the community with social services and economic revitalization. The Weed and Seed approach emphasizes four principles - aggressive law enforcement strategies, community policing, the provision of crime prevention, intervention, and treatment services, and neighborhood restoration and revitalization activities.

Initiated in 1991 in three pilot sites, the Weed and Seed approach is currently operational in over 250 sites around the nation. During FY 2000, over 250 communities used funding from Executive Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS). Since Weed and Seed is primarily a strategy, all Weed and Seed sites must show their capacity to obtain financial and in-kind resources from a variety of public and private sources. Many Weed and Seed sites receive support from federal, state, and local agencies, and the private sector (non-profit and for-profit). Technical assistance plays an integral role in the success of the Weed and Seed strategy and is available to all Officially Recognized Weed and Seed sites. Therefore, the Executive Office for Weed and Seed encourages Officially Recognized sites to develop written technical assistance (TA) work plans, which are based on ongoing local needs assessments. To facilitate technical assistance for sites, EOWS works with over 100 TA providers or consultants who carry out TA and have years of advanced, professional experience in areas including: strategic planning, evaluations, grants and funding review, team building, computer systems, funding and marketing, job training, asset mapping, and community policing. Technical assistance usually involves an EOWS consultant traveling to a specific Weed and Seed site. There are many other forms of TA that EOWS can provide, including: electronic (e-mail broadcasts and EOWS Web page), multi-site technical assistance, and telephone consultation.

EOWS also sponsors several training workshops and conferences, as well as live, interactive satellite broadcast series that cover Weed and Seed topic areas. In February 2000, EOWS held its annual application kit workshop for Officially Recognized sites. In 2000, EOWS sponsored several conferences, including one held in New Orleans, Louisiana in May on law enforcement and community and one held in Miami, Florida in September on creating healthy communities.

In January 2000, EOWS published a report, Weed and Seed Best Practices, which focused on four cities - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Jose, California; and Syracuse, New York - that implemented successful crime reduction activities, community policing, crime prevention initiatives, and neighborhood restoration. The initiatives being undertaken in these cities represent approaches that communities across the country may wish to consider when crafting a comprehensive, community-based response to crime and community well-being. Specifically, the publication highlighted community activity in the following areas:

Community Oriented Policing

EOWS hosted a teleconference, along with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), to spotlight best practices in community policing in April 2000. The teleconference brought together police chiefs and criminal justice researchers from around the country to present model community policing approaches. The discussion also encompassed the community's perspective on community policing. This teleconference followed a Community Oriented Policing Summit live satellite broadcast, also hosted by EOWS, at which these officials discussed promising approaches to and key components of successful community policing programs. The live satellite broadcast was the fourth in the EOWS Community Training Broadcast Series, a series of five one-hour satellite broadcasts on topics of interest to Weed and Seed sites and communities across the country.

To assess COPS effectiveness in promoting community policing in communities, OJP's independent research and evaluation arm, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), supported an independent, national evaluation of the COPS program. Findings released in September 2000, showed that COPS has increased the number of officers deployed in America's communities, advanced the utilization of problem-solving policing, helped police departments provide their officers with new technology, and made it easier and quicker for police departments to apply for and receive COPS grants. The evaluation was conducted by the Urban Institute with NIJ funding.

The study reported that:

The evaluation covered the first four years of the COPS program, with specific focus on how COPS grants enabled law enforcement agencies to put more officers on the street to engage in community policing and redeploy existing officers to community policing by increasing officer productivity through the use of technology or by hiring civilians.

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