OJP Press Release letterhead

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Joan LaRocca

Office of Justice Programs Announces New Office
To Help Communities Prevent Crime, Promote Revitalization

     WASHINGTON, D.C. - Advancing the Bush Administration's effort to strengthen community crime-fighting and redevelopment efforts, the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced the launching of the Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO), which will assist communities around America as they seek to prevent crime, increase community safety, and revitalize neighborhoods.

     The new office will incorporate OJP's well-known and highly successful Weed and Seed initiative, as well as the agency's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk.

     "We are committed to help strengthen communities across our nation by preventing crime and promoting revitalization. The CCDO is an exciting concept that brings into focus our agency's core mission of working with local communities to develop solutions that deter crime, promote economic growth, and enhance quality of life," said Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels, who heads OJP. "The new office will incorporate Weed and Seed=s proven approach to community-level strategic planning and implementation into other prevention initiatives, as well as community revitalization efforts."

     Daniels also announced that Nelson Hernandez will direct the new office. Hernandez most recently served as national coordinator for community affairs at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), where he directed the FDIC's national community reinvestment, community development, and public outreach efforts.

     "Nelson's strong record in community development and revitalization efforts, and his experience working with people from all sectors of society, will enable him to move OJP forward in extending support to all communities," Daniels said.

     Prior to his role at the FDIC, Mr. Hernandez was area coordinator in the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he directed the significant community liaison efforts of that agency. He has served as the assistant director of economic development and senior city planner for the city of Montebello, CA and worked at the Southern California Association of Governments, where he supervised preparation of the Growth Management Chapter of the Regional Comprehensive Plan. In 2003, he received a national Public Service to America Award for the FDIC's Money Smart Initiative, which attempts to bring lower-income people into the banking system.

     Although the Weed and Seed program will be the flagship operation in the new office, the CCDO will expand that collaborative, community-driven approach to other programs such as offender reentry. Through training and technical assistance, the CCDO will help communities to better help themselves, enabling them to develop solutions to community safety problems confronting them, as well as developing the leadership to implement and sustain those solutions.

     Weed and Seed is a community-driven strategic planning process that has demonstrated a positive impact on many communities, as federal and local law enforcement agencies join forces, share resources, set common goals, partner with community groups, and work together to address troubled areas in neighborhoods. The principles of Weed and Seed will guide the CCDO's efforts as well.

     Communities work with local U.S. Attorneys to develop a Weed and Seed strategy which involves "weeding out" criminals who participate in violent crime and drug abuse and "seeding" the areas with services linked to prevention, intervention, treatment and neighborhood revitalization. A community-oriented policing component bridges weeding and seeding strategies. Officers obtain helpful information from area residents for weeding efforts while they aid residents in obtaining information about community revitalization and seeding resources. There are currently over 300 Weed and Seed sites across the country.

     The American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk provides leadership to OJP in coordinating services and assistance in Indian Country. Through funding and technical assistance opportunities, OJP is a partner in empowering American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities to improve the quality of life for Indian peoples and to build strong and healthy communities.

     The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation=s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Executive Office for Weed and Seed, and the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education. Information about OJP programs, publications, and conferences is available on the OJP Web site, www.ojp.usdoj.gov.