In most sites, law enforcement approaches have been tailored to fit the strategy. They typically involved multiagency/multijurisdictional task forces, stronger street patrols, and higher level police/prosecutor interagency cooperation. The law enforcement efforts developed increased local, state, and federal coordination in targeting offenders, halting drug trafficking, and in prosecution or probation/parole.
The most effective implementation strategies were those that relied on bottom-up, participatory decision-making approaches, especially when combined with efforts to build capacity and partnership among local organizations. This required a long-term perspective about the program and its potential to bring about community change. Such sites, including some that achieved substantial crime reductions within the time period analyzed, have established a stronger foundation and more sustainable basis for further community-targeted initiatives.
Typical seeding efforts fell into the following categories, in rough order of frequency: youth prevention and intervention programs, neighborhood restoration, community building and development, adult job training and employment programs, family support services, and community economic development activities.
Factors for Success
A Weed and Seed Steering Committee identifies target neighborhoods and then seeks to establish local partnerships that will implement a specific strategy to reduce violence, drug trafficking, and crime, and provide a safe environment for residents.
The number of funded sites has grown steadily, from twenty-one immediately after the demonstration to more than three hundred in 2005. Site funding levels have declined as a consequence of this growth because congressional appropriations have not changed in proportion to the increase in sites. In the early 1990s, roughly 36 sites were funded at $750,000 per year for four or five years. By 1997, about 120 sites were funded at $250,000 per year. In 2005, few sites got more than $150,000 annually, though funding is the same for all sites. Current sites range in size from a few blocks to several miles in area, with populations between three thousand and fifty thousand. While typically within a city, some sites are county based.
The majority of sites expanded or strengthened community policing efforts by dedicating officers to specific geographic areas. Though community residents would often protest weeding activities, fearing targeted harassment or discrimination by police, the community policing focus helped to improve relationships between communities and police, and led to increased public confidence in police in a number of locations. The result was a greater potential for making police-community partnerships sustainable after W&S funding was phased out. Little follow-on research has been done to see if this was in fact the result.
“Multi-agency task forces concentrated on the target area, although they pursued drug cases across jurisdictional lines” (Dunworth and Mills 1999). Increased police presence was funded through additional staffing and overtime, and a majority of sites assigned dedicated officers to the target area. These approaches helped build relationships with residents and aided enforcement through better local knowledge and intelligence, an increased ability to operate proactively, and enhanced communication between residents and police. ”Weed and Seed provided a vehicle for mobilizing residents to participate in crime prevention. Responses ranged from increasing neighborhood watches, to community meetings, to a citizens’ advisory committee that provided guidance on law enforcement priorities” (Dunworth and Mills 1999). Violent and drug-related crimes were especially targeted by these efforts.
The Weed and Seed program is a community based strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high crime neighborhoods across the nation.
It is an innovative, comprehensive, multiagency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization. Under this program, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and
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other criminal justice partners work to “weed out” crime in targeted communities. After that private community based organizations and public agencies work to address human services, prevention, and intervention programs, and neighborhood restoration efforts to “seed” the community in a positive fashion. Community policing acts as the bridge between weeding and seeding efforts.