Case study: 9 steps to clean up a crime-ridden neighborhood
Certain neighborhoods in High Point, NC, were known for years as toxic to the community until these nine steps caused a dramatic turnaround
The Problem: Toxic Neighborhoods
Certain neighborhoods in High Point, N.C., were known for years as drug and prostitution markets that were toxic to the community. Despite being the target of numerous sweeps and undercover operations, the crimes persisted – and the community began to lose faith in police. Street dealers were selling drugs one dose at a time and in direct competition with others, which kept them armed and on edge. Apathy from the community was viewed as approval.
The Solution: Strategic Intervention
David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control, put forward that eliminating the drug market would eliminate the problem. He recommended shifting the focus from dealers themselves onto the infrastructure of the crimes.
The High Point Model for Drug Market Intervention is a product of that theory, and outlines nine steps to follow to reduce drug market-related crimes. After implementing the strategy, High Point police saw the following results:
• Sustained 57 percent decrease in violent crime • Sustained 25 percent decrease in drug-related crimes • 20 percent drop in crime from 2003 to 2006
A training program developed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance prescribes police first arrest and remove the highest-level offenders, then implement the strategy with other, lower-level offenders, who are given a second chance.
Police, reigning in support from the community, conduct a face-to-face meeting to directly address the problem with the criminals. Then, several strategies are employed post call-in to maintain the progress.
Step 1: Crime Mapping • Include 911 calls, field contacts, serious crimes, drug-related crimes, neighborhoods, streets and census blocks in a combined density map
A density map shows the hotspots for drug crime in the area.
Step 2: Survey • Survey police officers, probation officers, narcotics detectives and community members to ID street dealers
o Identify locations as well as persons
o Create a master list of dealers and locations
Step 3: Incident Review • Conduct a complete incident review of all documented contacts with dealers • All reports, contacts with police, link analysis of social network • Refine the list of dealers
o Is the dealer still active?
o Still in this area?
o Street level or mid-level?
o Pending charges?
o History of violence?
Step 4: Undercover Operations • Each location and dealer is investigated • Drug houses, street corners and businesses are photographed • Undercover purchases made from dealers
o Controlled buys with CI or Undercover officer • Each buy is videotaped with audio • The investigation requires only a judge’s signature to make the arrest
Step 5: Mobilize Community Commitment • City council members, mayor and city manager are briefed • Hold a series of public meetings in the targeted neighborhood • Strategy is shared fully with the community: “Is this something you will support?”
Step 6: Contact Offender’s Family • Small groups of officers, community members and clergy visit the immediate family members of the dealers
o Explain goals, invite family to participate
o Join in asking offender to quit dealing
o Family encouraged to attend the call-in • Invitation letter from the Chief
o You are in trouble but there is a one-time offer of help
o “This is not a trick, you will not be arrested tonight”
Step 7: Call-in/Notification • Face-to-face communication with dealers • Strong community voice
o “You’re ours, you’re doing wrong, you have to stop and we’ll help”
o “We are against what you do but we are for you” • Law enforcement delivers a two pronged message:
o Drug dealing and violence will no longer be tolerated
o Offenders are hereby put on notice “you could be arrested now, you will be arrested if we know you are dealing” • Through a resource coordinator they are offered help
Organizations involved in the call-in
The High Point Community Against Violence: The HPCAV has grown into a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization made up of community members, clergy, service agencies, non-profits, private, governmental and educational agencies.
• Ministers • Business leaders • Realtors • City Council • Caring Services • Guilford County Health Department • West End Ministries • Parks & Recreation • Community Development & Housing • University of NC at Greensboro • Guilford County Schools • Employment Security Commission • Public Defenders • High Point University • United Way
Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF): The VCTF is a partnership between the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Probation & Parole, District Attorney and the United States Attorney.
Step 8: Enforcement • Officers and community are careful to watch for the first signs of drug dealing • Immediate investigation of drug complaints
o Additional officers assigned to the area for the first few weeks • Informants revisit confirmed drug locations • Any verified complaint involving a notified dealer results in the warrant being signed and their arrest • The District Attorney assigned one prosecutor for these cases
Step 9: Follow Up • Follow up contact is made with the offenders to see if they are getting the help requested • Community members keep in contact with notified offenders
o Mentors are assigned • Any arrest or success story communicated to the community through newsletters/flyers • Frequent community meetings held
o Beat officers attend community watches • Property owners notified of nuisance abatement
Analysis and Impact: Measuring the Success Quantitative Results
Violent crime changes in target neighborhood (West end) • Sustained 57 percent decrease in violent crime
• Sustained 25 percent decrease in drug-related crimes
• Two year violent crime change: 20 percent drop in crime from 2003 to 2006
Qualitative Results • Markets closed overnight! • Calls for service increased 5 percent, but the type of calls shifted • Bible school attendance increased at English Road Baptist Church • A 911 caller converted from reluctant witness • Defendant complained police shut down his drug neighborhood • No homicides, rapes or gun assaults in target area • Residents didn’t relocate – they stayed but stopped offending • Sustained for more than six years, replicated in four other neighborhoods
o Daniel Brooks, Southside, East Central, Washington Drive
Post-Initiative: Maintaining the Shutdown • Communication with community • Contact with the notified offenders • Peer-to-peer information sharing among officers • Immediate response to threats • Monitor physical conditions of neighborhood