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Citizen Action

for Neighborhood Safety

Community Strategies for

Improving the Quality of Life
August 1997

This document was prepared by the Institute for Law and Justice, Inc., and the Center for the
Community Interest, supported by grant number 95-DD-BX-K013, awarded by the Executive Of­
fice for Weed and Seed, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily repre­
sent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Executive Office for Weed and Seed

810 7th St., N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20531

U.S. Department of Justice Response Center


Executive Office for Weed and Seed Internet Address

Citizen Action

for Neighborhood Safety

Community Strategies for

Improving the Quality of Life

Prepared by

Institute for Law and Justice Center for the Community Interest
Alexandria, Virginia Washington, DC


Since 1991, nearly 120 jurisdictions have received grants through Operation Weed and
Seed of the U.S. Department of Justice to combat crime and disorder in high-crime neigh­
borhoods. These communities are “weeding out” violent crime, drug dealers, and gang ac­
tivity; using community policing approaches to further reduce disorder and engage citizens in
fighting and preventing crime; and “seeding” the community through prevention and inter­
vention programs, economic revitalization, and neighborhood restoration.
Neighborhood by neighborhood, we are seeing success—not because there are easy an­
swers, or because of any “one size fits all” program, but because of the resourcefulness and
tireless commitment of citizens, community policing officers, and others on the front line.
Only with strong support from neighborhood residents and community organizations—and
an equally strong commitment by U.S. Attorneys, law enforcement, local prosecutors, and
others in the criminal justice system—can we begin to make a difference.
It is to these individuals that this book is dedicated, and it is their collective wisdom that the
book seeks to represent and share. Each chapter offers practical tactics that have been
used successfully, in Weed and Seed neighborhoods and in other communities, to address
very specific problems. These problems—drug markets, graffiti, trespassing, prostitution,
gangs—don’t always involve felony crimes, but they all have a profound effect on the quality
of community life.
Finally, we see this book as a living document. We hope not only that you will learn some­
thing useful from the experiences of these communities—new tactics, new contacts, new
ways of thinking about old problems—but also that you will tell us more about your own
experiences. In turn, we will make every effort to update the information presented here by
including your ideas in our training workshops, publications, and Internet website. We are
convinced this type of continuing dialogue will go a long way toward reducing crime and
making our neighborhoods better places to live.

Stephen Rickman
Executive Office for Weed and Seed


This guidebook was possible only because of the dedicated people who have been working
so hard to improve the quality of community life in Weed and Seed and other neighbor­
hoods throughout the country. We hope we have represented their efforts faithfully. We
are also especially grateful for the direction and support of Stephen Rickman, Director, Ex­
ecutive Office for Weed and Seed.
Working as partners, the staff of the Institute for Law and Justice (ILJ) and the Center for
the Community Interest, a project of the American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities,
have put forth a tremendous effort on this project. Staff authors for the Institute for Law
and Justice were Edward Connors, Neal Miller, and Barbara Webster; and for the Center
for the Community Interest, Roger Conner, Kevin Coy, Chris Dwyer, Dennis Saffran, Brian
Stettin, and Rob Teir. We also wish to thank ILJ research associates Deborah Haley and
Rachana Pandey, editorial consultant Peter Ohlhausen, administrative assistant Joan Peter­
schmidt, student intern Renee Pompei, and consultant Ken Finlayson.

Institute for Law and Justice Center for the Community Interest
1018 Duke St. 919 18th St., N.W., Suite 800
Alexandria, VA 22314 Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 703-684-5300 Phone: 202-785-7844
Fax: 703-739-5533 Fax: 202-785-4370
Internet: Internet:


Chapter 1: Introduction ...............................................................1

Chapter 2: Open-Air Drug Markets ...........................................2

Chapter 3: Crime and Drug Dealing in

Housing Developments .........................................12

Chapter 4: Crack Houses and Other

Indoor Drug Markets .............................................21

Chapter 5: Trespass ..................................................................28

Chapter 6: Youth and Gangs....................................................36

Chapter 7: Graffiti .......................................................................51

Chapter 8: Street Prostitution ..................................................59

Chapter 9: Working with the Police.........................................65

Chapter 10:Working with Courts and Prosecutors ..............73


Chapter 1


E very community has problems. Every

community has people who complain
about the problems. Every commu­
nity has a few people who lead. If you are
you have to do everything suggested in the
pages ahead. Just pick what you think will be
most effective in your neighborhood and be
persistent about it.
only a complainer, this book is not for you. If This publication was funded by the Executive
you feel like a victim and just want to know Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS), U.S.
who to blame, do not waste your time with Department of Justice. Thanks to the Weed
this book. If you want to be part of the solu­ and Seed Program, efforts have expanded
tion, if you are willing to work hard and you across the country to improve the quality of
are determined to work smart, this book is life in neighborhoods where crime and disor­
for you. der are high. Many of these neighborhoods
This manual is a national inventory of practical have problems in common—drug markets,
tactics that have been successfully used to prostitution, youth gangs, graffiti, and other
address specific problems affecting the quality disorder. Their creative efforts have helped
of life in neighborhoods across this country— to increase the pool of knowledge about what
in communities, neighborhoods, and blocks works.
just like yours. This book will give you some If you have successfully employed a tactic not
new ideas about changes you can try, based mentioned in this book—or if you develop a
on what has been successful in other places. new one as you gain experience—we want to
Each chapter focuses on a specific crime or know about it.
disorder problem. After a short introduction, In the coming months, the EOWS will be
each chapter contains a section on analyzing converting the information and tactics in this
the problem, a detailed list of proven strate­ book into a continuously evolving World
gies and tactics, and a concluding section Wide Web page. Please visit the current
called “Putting It All Together,” which briefly Weed and Seed Program web page at
tells the story of a community that has suc­
cessfully tackled the problem. Don’t feel like


Chapter 2

Open-Air Drug Markets

I f open drug dealing in public areas such

as streets and parks is a problem in your
community, read this chapter to learn
how to eradicate it. This chapter guides you
steady flow of buyers to make quick, low­
volume, anonymous purchases. More drugs
in America are actually sold through private
referral markets of friends and acquaintances,
through a step-by-step process in which you but these markets are not nearly so violent, so
analyze the structure of the drug market with likely to recruit children and tempt recovering
an eye to where it is vulnerable, develop a addicts, or so thoroughly destructive of com­
plan to disrupt business as usual, and with munities as open-air drug markets. Tactics in
persistence, remove the problem from your this chapter are not meant to totally eradicate
community one drug market at a time. The drug use or even sales in the neighborhood.
“Strategies and Tactics” section offers proven Instead, they focus squarely on driving drug
drug-fighting techniques to choose from as dealing out of public spaces, one corner, one
you develop your strategy. All the while, you block, or one park at a time. Chapter 4 ad­
are urged to stay focused on three overarch­ dresses how to drive away drug dealers who
ing goals: (1) broadcasting community intoler­ have been forced to move their operations
ance for drug activity, (2) denying drug deal­ just out of public sight into houses, apartment
ers access to marketing space, and (3) complexes, cooperative businesses, or aban­
eliminating the sense of impunity at the heart doned buildings.
of flagrant drug markets. Finally, this chapter
lists other helpful resources to consult as you How Open-Air Drug Markets Work
and your drug fighters face inevitable difficul­ Flagrant drug markets depend upon large
ties on the road to success. numbers of customers coming to a known
and stable location in order to buy one or
more small packets of a particular type of
Analyzing the Problem drug. Because customers already know unit
Obviously, any drug use or trafficking is a prices and where to go to get specific prod­
problem. This chapter, however, concerns ucts, sales can occur in just a few seconds.
itself only with flagrant drug markets—those The organizational structure of drug rings is
that operate in public spaces and invite a hierarchical and segmented in order to insu­


late those involved from arrest and punish­ ¤ Who? Do you know who the dealers
ment. At the top of the operation is someone are? The distributors? The runners
with the capital and connections to maintain a and lookouts? The suppliers? The
large and steady supply of drugs. Destined customers? Enablers such as busi­
for the streets, the drugs are repackaged into nesses or property owners? Where
small, discrete containers to be sold by the do they all live? Who are the police
“hit.” These packets are bundled and deliv­ officers assigned to the area? Their
ered to distributors, mid-level assistants who immediate supervisors?
hand out a few packets at a time to “run- ¤ What? What drugs are being sold?
ners”—the people you see actually selling the What tactics have the dealers used to
drugs and collecting the cash. Often, “jug­ conduct their business and protect
glers” collect the cash and direct the customer their turf? To attract customers? To
to a nearby runner holding the drugs. Typi­ intimidate the community? To recruit
cally, young adolescents are posted as look­ workers? To maintain a steady supply
outs. They use cryptic voice and hand signals of drugs? To evade law enforcement?
to warn of approaching police. What strategies have already been
tried against them by the police and
Location is especially important for an open­
the community? What worked and
air drug market’s ability to thrive. Good retail
what failed?
space for a drug dealer means an area that
¤ Where? What is it about the drug
has legitimate cover for foot and auto traffic
market’s location that affects viability?
while at the same time exuding a sense of
Where are the entrance ways and es­
abandonment by community residents. Also,
cape routes? Where are the legitimate
in order to avoid the police, dealers pick
enterprises that provide cover?
spots with easy access for customers and a
Where are the drugs repackaged and
large number of quick escape routes. An­
other consideration for dealers is cheap labor,
¤ When? Most flagrant drug dealing
so they look for large pools of poorly super­
takes place on Thursday, Friday and
vised kids desperate for money and status. A
Saturday nights. Is this true at your
thoroughly littered street corner with run­
targeted market? When does dealing
down liquor stores and carry-out joints,
go on? When is it busiest?
poorly lit alleys, and a low-income housing
¤ Why? Why is there chronic drug
complex nearby is an ideal location to peddle
dealing at this place? What do you
believe are the primary reasons that
this particular drug market has been
Taking Inventory able to flourish?
Now, with these general points in mind, as­ Don’t expect to have the answers to all of
sess your specific problem. In regard to the these questions. You can be assured that if
particular drug market you’ve chosen to you ask a few neighborhood residents and
eliminate, answer as many of the following their children these questions—even if the an­
questions as you can: swers are incomplete—you will have enough


information to begin an effective plan of at­ neighborhood constantly in order to firmly

tack. establish community assertiveness and (2)
take back your streets and parks by con­
fronting the drug dealers on what they have
Strategies and Tactics deemed their own turf.
Remember your goals. Anything that builds ¤ Adopt a Block. Neighborhood
community assertiveness, disrupts the normal groups, businesses, churches, schools,
interaction between dealers and customers, and other organizations are often will­
makes the location less convenient for flagrant ing to “adopt” a street corner or a
drug dealing, or diminishes the drug trade’s park and take responsibility for its up­
appeal for potential recruits seriously threat­ keep. They clear debris, remove graf­
ens the profitability—and hence the exis- fiti, paint walls, repair playground
tence—of the drug market. In the process of equipment, and plant trees and gar­
deciding your course of action, always re­ dens.
member to stay squarely focused on the fol­ ¤ Spruce-Up Saturdays. Neigh-
lowing three strategies: bors—homeowners and renters
alike—can be encouraged to spend a
¤ Broadcast community intolerance for
set portion of a Saturday or weekend
drug activity.
sprucing up the appearance of their
¤ Deny drug dealers access to marketing
yards, homes, and adjacent areas.
The event can also include a “block
¤ Eliminate drug dealers’ and buyers’
barbecue” (explained later).
sense of impunity.
¤ Complaint Campaign. Scarce city
These three strategies, and the tactics used to
resources go first to the proverbial
achieve them, are discussed in the remainder
squeaky wheel. A systematic cam­
of this chapter.
paign of letter and telephone com­
plaints to the Department of Public
Tip: Start with an achievable goal—
cleaning up a small park or cor- Works, other city departments, your
ner—and then build from there. city council representative, and the
mayor’s office is often the only way to
get the kind of maintenance and repair
Strategy 1. Broadcast Community
work that your community needs and
Intolerance for Drug Activity
deserves. Be sure to build a paper
Think of your job as uniting the moral voice of
trail by documenting all contacts with
the community to assert loudly and clearly
city officials. If the municipal bu­
that drug activity will no longer be tolerated.
reaucracy still fails to respond, taking
No matter what else you, the police, or others
your story to the local media can
may do, if drug dealers do not believe the
sometimes bring results.
community’s resolve, they will always be
¤ Citizen Patrols. Neighbors are
back to re-use the neighborhood. As a
banding together in organized, highly
group, you will have to (1) clean up the
visible citizen patrols to observe illicit


activity and report what they see to the services outdoors where chronic drug
police. By walking in groups and dealing has been going on.
wearing bright “uniforms” (a common ¤ Scarecrows. A simple tactic that
hat or T-shirt), and by equipping greatly increases the insecurity felt by
themselves with walkie-talkies, still drug buyers is to post warnings that
and video cameras, notepads, and they are being watched. Among the
whistles, patrol members are scaring “scarecrows” that communities have
away drug customers and providing placed at drug market entrances are
the police with detailed information to seized cars, banners, stenciled mes­
use against dealers. Police typically sages that read “We Spy: Don’t Buy
show renewed interest and increased Drugs Here,” and posters offering
presence in locations where citizen cash rewards for information leading
patrols operate. to a drug-related arrest.
¤ Marches and Vigils. In many
communities, citizen patrols have Strategy 2. Deny Drug Dealers
evolved into full-blown demonstra­ Access to Marketing Space
tions. Large groups, often including Open-air drug markets depend upon location
children and senior citizens, are staging stability to maintain their customer base. If a
repeated marches and vigils in the sales operation is forced to move, it cannot
heart of some of the country’s most easily advertise its new location, and market
notorious drug markets during peak efficiency declines. The more frequently the
business hours. Their purpose is not market is forced to move, the less likely it is
to observe but to intimidate drug deal­ to maintain regular customers and stay in
ers. Armed with bullhorns and anti­ business. To disrupt the normal interaction of
drug slogans, and usually a police es­ dealers and their customers and make the
cort, the drug fighters park themselves physical environment less hospitable to drug
directly in front of dealers and stare dealing, concentrate on (1) altering and
them down with loud and droning monitoring entrance and escape routes used
chants. by customers and dealers, (2) stopping drug
¤ Block Barbecues. In Chicago, citi­ market “enablers,” and (3) advocating legisla­
zens have pushed drug dealers from tion to outlaw the mechanics of open-air drug
their preferred selling locations during sales.
busy weekend hours by peddling hot ¤ Better Lighting. Drug dealers and
dogs and hamburgers there instead. In customers react to bright light the
many cases, the barbecues have same way cockroaches do—they
grown into popular neighborhood scatter. Property owners, city offi­
events. cials, and community leaders who
¤ Street Church Services. Minis­ “adopt” an area should make ade­
ters in Alexandria, Virginia, have had quate lighting a top priority. Quickly
similar success in disrupting drug mar­ repairing or replacing lights that have
kets by holding Saturday evening been broken or have had their wiring


cut by dealers is an important way to sure to check if local laws require

show the community’s determination. permits for such demonstrations.
¤ Fences, Gates, and Barriers. ¤ Code and Regulatory Enforce­
Erecting fences or other barriers and ment Requests. Buildings and
locking gates can be very effective in businesses involved with flagrant drug
cutting off dealer escape routes and markets also tend to have many health,
channeling foot traffic to a small num­ safety, and building code violations.
ber of easily monitored avenues. They These codes can provide the commu­
also make it easy to close parks after nity with strong leverage against prop­
dark. Vehicle traffic can also be re­ erty owners who turn a blind eye to
routed using plastic and rubber “knock drug activity. In many places, city and
down” barriers that do not impede po­ county inspectors regularly cite en­
lice and emergency vehicles. ablers while accompanying citizen pa­
¤ Monitoring Devices. Problem lo­ trols and marches. Another option is
cations can be conspicuously to initiate liquor and business license
equipped with surveillance cameras, revocation proceedings.
motion detectors, and other monitoring
devices. What’s more, cheaply Tip: Some law firms will provide
mounting cameras that don’t actually you with free (pro bono) assistance.
All you have to do is ask.
work can still serve the purpose of
scaring away illicit activity.
¤ Small-Claims Court Action. A
¤ Writing and Picketing Enablers.
documented history of drug activity
Owners of bars, stores, and apartment
tied to a particular property makes a
buildings often tolerate or even en­
strong case against a recalcitrant
courage drug activity on or near their
owner for creating a public nuisance.
properties. The first step to getting
If enough neighbors simultaneously file
such owners to take responsibility for
suit in small-claims court, they can
their property and its immediate sur­
make an end run around the slow and
roundings is a letter demanding that
expensive regular court system and still
they undertake specific and concrete
threaten enough damage that the
action by a certain date or face a con­
owner will likely consider a settlement.
certed community backlash. Such ac­
¤ Demanding Better Building
tion might include installing lights or
Management. See Chapter 3 for
video monitors, evicting drug dealing
information on lease identification pro­
tenants, hiring security guards, or call­
grams, changing public housing and
ing the police whenever suspected
private rental leases, and placing con­
drug activity is spotted in the vicinity.
ditions on public loans to require con­
If an owner fails to take corrective ac­
certed anti-drug efforts. Chapter 4
tion, picket lines are the most direct
also explores options to seize houses
way to encourage cooperation. Be
and condos, close or seize businesses,
and rehabilitate or raze abandoned


property—severe measures that are Strategy 3. Eliminate Drug Dealers’

nonetheless necessary in some cases. and Buyers’ Sense of Impunity
¤ Drug-Related Loitering Laws. The implicit message of open-air drug mar­
These laws enable police to disperse, kets is that dealers and customers can con­
under penalty of arrest, people con­ duct business with virtual impunity. Because
gregating in a manner suggestive of of this perception, dealers have little trouble
drug peddling. Drug-related loitering attracting clients to buy drugs or recruiting
is carefully defined as engaging in be­ youth to sell them. To change these attitudes,
haviors that, when found together, you must work closely with law enforcement
suggest an intent to sell drugs (for ex­ and criminal justice officials to demand that
ample, loitering on a corner, meeting the rule of law be reestablished where drug
briefly with multiple pedestrians or dealers have gotten used to setting their own
motorists in succession, and covertly rules. Your goals in this regard are threefold:
palming off small packages or money). (1) increase the efficiency of police patrols by
¤ Drug Nuisance Abatement or providing them with useful information, (2)
“Padlock” Laws. These laws es­ increase the visible police presence within the
tablish procedures for the closure of neighborhood in general and around the drug
businesses with multiple drug convic­ market in particular, and (3) increase the
tions on the premises. (See Chapter probability and severity of penalties for both
4.) drug buyers and sellers. (See Chapter 9 for
¤ Triple-Prescription Legislation. more tips on “putting the community in com­
This law mandates all doctors pre­ munity policing” and Chapter 10 for further
scribing commonly abused pharma­ advice on working with courts and prosecu­
ceutical drugs such as Valium to fill out tors.)
a triplicate, sequentially numbered
¤ Drug Activity Log. Keep a detailed
form that the pharmacist sends to a
record of all suspected drug activity
state regulatory agency. This informa­
that you observe. Include the date,
tion is entered into a database that is
time, location, and a careful descrip­
analyzed for patterns of abuse.
tion of each incident. People, vehicles,
¤ Juvenile Curfews. Curfew laws
drugs, hiding places, “advertising,”
require that children and adolescents
paraphernalia, overheard conversa­
who are out late at night must be ac­
tions, how the drugs and money were
companied by a parent or guardian.
exchanged, whether and when the in­
Exceptions are generally made for ac­
cident was reported to police, and the
tivities related to school, work, and
police response are all things that
church. In many places, parents of
should be meticulously described.
repeat offenders can be sanctioned.
Some police departments and com­
munity groups develop a special form
for recording such information. This
simple tool informs and empowers
every course of action that you, the


police, or others may want to take of friendly contact between police and
against the drug market. the community, and their mobility al­
¤ Well-Publicized Drug Tip Hot lows them to follow migrating drug
Lines. Tip lines make it quick and markets.
easy for citizens to inform the police of ¤ Court Watches. It is not uncom­
suspicious activity, and they need not mon for people arrested on drug­
be huge statewide or citywide phone related charges to be released on
banks to be effective. In fact, some­ bond within hours. In reaction, many
times a more narrowly focused tip drug-fighting groups now follow ar-
line—to a narcotics unit assigned to a rested drug offenders to court for their
specific segment of the city—elicits a arraignment. They crowd the court­
better response from the police. In room to be sure that the judge knows
any case, the tip line needs to be well how law-abiding community members
publicized in areas plagued by drug feel about the defendant’s behavior.
dealing. Posters and discussions at Nor are the groups shy about sharing
community meetings can help spread their reaction. (For more information
the word. on working with courts and prosecu­
¤ Postcard Warnings to Vehicle tors, see Chapter 10.)
Owners. Postcards can be mailed to ¤ Enforcing Driver’s License
the owners of cars seen cruising in the Revocation. A federal “use it and
vicinity of open-air drug markets. lose it” law requires that anyone con-
Through the local division of motor victed of a drug-related offense must
vehicles, police can trace the license lose their driving privileges for at least
plate numbers collected on citizen drug six months.
activity logs and send notices to the ¤ Mandatory Drug Testing and
vehicle owners “warning” them that to Treatment. Any suspect in the
frequent the area at certain hours is a criminal justice system can be tested
dangerous health risk. for drugs. Since drug use is implicated
¤ Driver’s License Checkpoints. in a very substantial percentage of all
Another effective police tactic is the crimes, more offenders should be
implementation of regular driver’s li- tested. Drug testing is often imposed
cense checkpoints, similar to sobriety as a condition of probation and parole.
checkpoints, at drug market entrances To be effective it must include close
to discourage “frivolous” traffic in the supervision and serious but graduated
area. penalties for failed tests. Attendance
¤ Police Command Posts. For by drug abusers at treatment pro­
deeply entrenched drug markets, po­ grams, Narcotics Anonymous meet­
lice should consider setting up and ings, and life skills classes, at their own
staffing a semi-permanent trailer as a expense, can be a cost-effective initial
command post in the market’s center. sentence that carries the possibility of
Command posts can serve as a point rehabilitation.


¤ Partnerships for Better Supervi­ ties, owners of seized vehicles are

sion. Considering that more than half permitted to pay a civil fine and re­
of all crack purchases are made by trieve their cars after a day. This prac­
people on bail, probation, or parole, it tice is much cheaper than traditional
is worthwhile to encourage probation seizure programs that require an ap­
and parole officers to team up with peal hearing to retrieve one’s car, but
police officers on the local beat, apparently it’s just as effective. In
school officials, employers, and others egregious cases, when a particular
who regularly encounter the people property has become an “instrument’
they supervise. These partnerships not of drug distribution, it can be seized
only help protect the community from and sold by state or federal authorities.
people with a criminal history, they Assets such as cash, cars, expensive
also help make criminal justice super­ clothes, jewelry, planes, and real es­
vision a real opportunity for troubled tate that have been obtained with drug
individuals to get their lives on the right trafficking proceeds are also subject to
track. seizure.
¤ Public Community Service Sen­
tences. Another kind of alternative
sentencing is court-ordered community Putting It All Together
service, which can be used to shame The Boyd Booth community in West Balti­
the inflated prestige of drug dealers more, after years of suffering from violent
while they do menial tasks to improve open air drug markets, implemented a com­
the community that they have harmed. prehensive strategy to fight back. They took
direct action themselves and enlisted assis­
Tip: To achieve your strategic ob­ tance from a variety of non-profit and city
jectives, it is enormously helpful to agencies to board up drug houses, fence off
mark your progress. Be sure to
specify simple, short-term goals for alleyways, pursue drug nuisance abatement
each tactic you use. For instance, cases against six crack houses, conduct
commit to cleaning up the block or neighborhood cleanups and marches, and
park and keeping it litter-free for a send letters to landlords asking for help.
month, or to having citizen patrols
or marches at least two nights a Their efforts got results. They contributed to
week for three months. Whatever a 52 percent decline in violent crime over two
you choose to do, define it in terms years, with overall crime dropping 40 per­
of achievable timetables. cent.

¤ Civil Asset Seizures (Cars and

Real Property). One of the quickest
Tactical Checklist
ways to chill drug sales across a city is
to publicize a renewed effort to seize Here’s a list of techniques you might wish to
vehicles used in drug purchases and use in your fight against open-air drug mar­
sales. In Detroit and other communi- kets:


¤ Adopt-a-block Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. (1993).

¤ Monitoring devices A Civil War: A Community Legal Guide to
¤ Drug tip hot lines Fighting Street Drug Markets. New York:
¤ Spruce-up Saturdays Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft—Attor-
¤ Writing/picketing enablers neys at Law. (Also available through the
¤ Postcard warnings Center for the Community Interest, 202-785-
¤ Complaint campaign 7844.)
¤ Code enforcement A Community-Oriented Drug War: Cincin-
¤ Drivers’ license checkpoints nati’s Experience with the Wrice Process.
¤ Citizen patrols (1997). Washington: The Center for the
¤ Small-claims court action Community Interest. 202-785-7844.
¤ Police command posts
¤ Marches and vigils Conner, Roger, and Patrick Burns. (1991).
¤ Better building management The Winnable War: A Community Guide
¤ Court watches to Eradicating Street Drug Markets.
¤ Block barbecues Washington: The Center for the Community
¤ Drug-related loitering laws Interest. 202-785-7844.
¤ Drivers’ license revocation Creating a Climate of Hope: Ten Neigh­
¤ Street church services borhoods Tackle the Drug Crisis. (1992).
¤ Drug nuisance abatement Washington: National Crime Prevention
¤ Mandatory drug testing and treatment Council. 202-466-6272.
¤ Scarecrows
Finn, Peter, and Maria O’Brien Hylton.
¤ Triple prescription legislation
(1994). Using Civil Remedies for Criminal
¤ Public community service sentences
Behavior: Rationale, Case Studies and
¤ Better lighting
Constitutional Issues. Washington: National
¤ Juvenile curfew
Institute of Justice. 800-851-3420.
¤ Criminal supervision partnerships
¤ Fences, gates, and barriers Gordon, Corey L., and William Brill. (1996).
¤ Drug activity log The Expanding Role of Crime Prevention
¤ Civil asset seizures Through Environmental Design in Prem­
ises Liability. Washington: National Institute
of Justice. 800-851-3420.
Mann, Stephanie, and M. C. Blakeman.
(1993). Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods:
Stopping Crime Where You Live. Berkeley,
Artigiani, Erin. (1996). Revitalizing Balti- California: Nolo Press. 510-549-1976.
more’s Neighborhoods: The Community As-
sociation’s Guide to Civil Legal Remedies. 350 Tested Strategies to Prevent Crime: A
Baltimore: Community Law Center. 410- Resource for Municipal Agencies and Com­
366-0922. munity Groups. (1995). Washington: Na­


tional Crime Prevention Council. 202-466- 610-649-7055

6272. Assistance with community watch programs.

Organizations National Crime Prevention Council

Bureau of Justice Assistance Robert Coates
Office of Justice Programs 1700 K St., N.W., Second Floor
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, DC 20036
BJA Clearinghouse 202-466-6272
P.O. Box 6000 Building partnerships and collaborative prob­
Rockville, MD 20850 lem solving.
National information clearinghouse. Pro Se Law Center
5430 Lynx Lane, Suite 135
Center for the Community Interest Columbia, MD 21044
Roger Conner 301-596-8818
919 18th St., N.W., Suite 800 410-997-4552
Washington, DC 20006
202-785-7844 Lists and links to legal software and legal aid
Legislative drafting and litigation defense of programs.
cutting-edge ordinances.
Safe Streets Now!
Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety Mollie Wetzel
Warren Friedman 408 13th St., Suite 452
28 East Jackson, Suite 1215 Oakland, CA 94612
Chicago, IL 60604 (510) 836-4703
312-461-0444 Small-claims court tactics.
Community organizing and collaborative
problem solving. Turn Around America
Andy Garr
Citizens Committee for New York City, Inc. 3321 Danville Drive, #506
Felice Kirby Kilgore, TX 75662
305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor (903) 983-0316
New York, NY 10001 Training for confrontational marches and vigils
212-989-0909 (the Wrice Process).
Community organizing and collaborative
problem solving. Youth Crime Watch of America
Vernon Jones
National Association of Town Watch 9300 South Dadeland Boulevard, Suite 100
P.O. Box 303 Miami, FL 33156
7 Wynnewood Road, Suite 215 (305) 670-2409
Wynnewood, PA 19096 Involving youth in anti-crime strategies.


Chapter 3

Crime and Drug Dealing in

Housing Developments

I f your community is faced with drug

dealing and related crime in multi-family
housing developments—either public
housing or some other form of subsidized or
management, private out-of-town ownership,
and others—thrust additional, more complex
barriers in the way of solving neighborhood
drug problems.
multi-family housing—read this chapter to
learn how to enlist owners, landlords, resi­ Cycle of Crime and Management
dents, police, and others to fight drugs in Problems
these unique settings. The “Strategies and The level of problems in all communities is
Tactics” section discusses how to establish determined by how much crime the commu­
positive relationships with landlords and ten­ nity tolerates. In multi-family housing, if crime
ants, get results when negotiations fail, change increases, law abiding families tend to move
physical conditions that encourage drug traf­ out and problem families want to move in.
ficking and crime, and improve neighborhood Problem families tolerate more crime, and
safety by changing tenant screening and lease crime increases.
enforcement policies and by working with the
police. The apartment management then begins to
have problems. Vacancies increase, rent
payments start to slip, and damage increases.
Residents resist getting involved with man­
Analyzing the Problem agement because they fear retaliation for
Chapters 2 and 4 discuss any number of complaining and they fear reprisals from
strategies aimed at reducing drug dealing. criminals. To make matters worse, good
Multi-family housing developments, especially families on the waiting list learn about the
subsidized communities, pose special prob­ growing problems and refuse to move in.
lems. When drug markets take hold in these Problem families who have had difficulty
communities, unique conditions—higher finding and keeping a home learn about the
population densities, lower-income residents, higher tolerances for crime and agree to move
physical condition and design, bureaucratic in. Management becomes less strict in se­


lecting families to avoid higher vacancies and spire a lower tolerance for crime by
reduced revenues from rent. In addition, changing policies and procedures—
problem families typically have more personal especially tenant screening and lease
issues, including domestic violence and drug enforcement policies—through a part­
and alcohol abuse, which result in increased nership with the majority of residents
damage to the apartments. As costs increase who want change.
and revenues decrease, maintenance and up­
keep are curtailed. Benchmarks for Managing Multi-
Family Housing
In the beginning, the police attempt to enforce
You may have heard many times that manag­
the law, but before long there are fewer and
ing multi-family housing, especially lower­
fewer residents willing to cooperate with po­
income developments, is complex and techni­
lice or report lease violations. Even when law
cal, with enormous amounts of regulations
breakers are arrested, they are typically back
governing the management process. Multi­
in the community within days or even hours.
family housing management is really financial
As tolerance increases and support de­
management, and standard benchmarks are
creases, the police actions have little long­
used. By learning these benchmarks, you will
term effect. Faced with a lack of results, they
be in a much better position to negotiate for
place their crime prevention priorities in other
sections of the city. This cycle escalates until
it spills over into the surrounding communities, ¤ Income must exceed expenses. A
causing serious problems there as well. manager can enhance income by re­
ducing expenses, including expendi­
There are several myths about crime in multi­
tures for maintenance and materials.
family developments. Before designing your
The U.S. Department of Housing and
strategy, consider these facts.
Urban Development (HUD) monitors
¤ Much of the crime that occurs in multi­ all subsidized multi-family units, and
family communities is caused by per­ HUD must also regulate all properties
petrators who reside outside the rental to see that they are maintained. How­
community. These outsiders are at­ ever, if income exceeds expenses,
tracted by residents’ high tolerance for HUD may not monitor the physical
crime and the demand for drugs. decline.
¤ Most residents of subsidized rental ¤ Most financial assumptions on the op­
housing are decent, law-abiding fami­ erations of multi-family housing assume
lies who are just as upset about the a 5 percent vacancy rate. If vacancies
problem as the surrounding commu­ are any higher, the owner is probably
nity. Given the right circumstances, losing money.
they can become close allies in solving ¤ Rent collection should be current.
the problem. Any delinquencies over 60 days are a
¤ Residents, not management, define the serious problem and indicate poor rent
level of crime that will be tolerated in collection procedures.
their community. Management can in­


¤ Vacant units should be turned over in order in a high-density living environ­

less than 20 days for public housing ment.
and in less than a week for private ¤ The ownership and management of the
subsidized housing. Not doing so in­ multi-family complex does not have an
dicates inventory problems, staff active relationship with the surrounding
shortages, excessive damage, or just community.
poor management.
¤ All emergency work orders should be
completed within 48 hours, and nor­ Strategies and Tactics
mal work orders should be completed No matter how bad the situation, it is impor­
within 20 days. If the times are longer, tant to approach the project’s management
there is a serious breakdown in opera­ by expressing your desire to establish a posi­
tions. tive relationship, discover common ground,
¤ Crime reduction is a management re­ and build upon shared values. Merely con­
sponsibility, not a police responsibility. fronting management with problems will limit
For positive change to occur, the site solutions and may even make the problems
manager must be responsible for en­ worse.
gaging in programs and activities to
reduce crime. If there are serious Tip: Making very inexpensive
problems with rent collection, inven­ physical changes, increasing tenant
screening, lowering tolerances for
tory, unit turnover, and work orders, it criminal behavior, and cooperating
is an indication that the management with police and the surrounding
system is broken. A broken manage­ community can reduce expenses.
ment system cannot delegate respon­ Approaching management with a
plan to help reduce expenses is an
sibility to a property manager. excellent way to frame a solution.

Taking Inventory
The strategies discussed in this section follow:
Measurable improvements can be gained
when certain core problems that contribute to ¤ Establish positive relationships with the
drug problems in multi-family housing devel­ owner.
opments are addressed. As you begin to de­ ¤ Get results when negotiations fail.
velop your strategies, consider which of these ¤ Establish relationships with the resi­
core problems characterize the multi-family dents.
housing development you are targeting: ¤ Develop a plan to change physical
¤ The housing development’s physical
¤ Encourage changes in management.
design supports drug activity.
¤ Work with the police on crime pre­
¤ Management tolerates a high level of
vention strategies.
problem behavior rather than strictly
enforcing the lease.
¤ Police do not provide the intensive
problem-solving required to maintain


Strategy 1. Establish Positive damage would decrease, and maintenance

Relationships with the Owner and capital improvement costs would de­
Attacking the landlord or owner for being crease. Any owner with serious crime prob­
part of the problem will only make the situa­ lems could realize an immediate 10 percent
tion worse. If the project is subsidized, the reduction in expenses with noticeable reduc­
owner will merely use as scapegoats “massive tions in crime. If community leaders ap­
regulations, intrusive federal oversight, and proached the owner with a proposal to form
reduced subsidies,” claiming they are the real a partnership to reduce the owner’s expenses
problem. Your attempts to establish a posi­ by 10 percent, a very dynamic beginning to
tive relationship will go nowhere. the solution of the problem might be created.
The ideal approach is to find common
ground, a shared goal that is linked to the Strategy 2. Get Results When
strong values of both the owner and the Negotiations Fail
neighborhood. Obviously, your goals include Sometimes negotiating with the owner or
reducing crime and drug distribution and manager of multi-family housing does not
making neighborhoods safe for children. The work. For a number of reasons, efforts to
landlord does not necessarily share those collaborate go nowhere and problems persist.
goals. It is important, then, for the community Now is the time to use more confrontational
to determine what the owner does care about tactics. These steps are progressive. As you
and link those values to the goal of reducing turn up the heat, the owner or manager may
crime and drugs. If this can happen, then signal a willingness to work toward common
both the neighborhood and the owner will be solutions. If this happens, switch back to the
independently motivated to achieve the goal. strategy for establishing positive relationships
They will both have individual needs that can with the owner.
be satisfied by working together, and they can ¤ Tell the Owner You Are Going to
both assume individual responsibilities. Begin a Public Confrontation.
Joint planning and action to achieve a com­ Sometimes this works. In public
mon goal—collaboration—can now occur. housing, for example, even the possi­
The first step, then, is to determine the bility of bad press is a problem. The
owner’s values. There might be many values public housing officials in Washington
that could be linked to a common goal of re­ read all press on public housing and
ducing crime: reducing complaints from city work hard to correct any problems. If
officials, improving the property’s value for the multi-family housing is public
resale, reducing vacancies, reducing mainte­ housing, call the local HUD office and
nance calls, reducing exposure to liability, re­ tell them you are going to have a pub­
ducing expenses, and improving income. lic demonstration. You will get a
meeting on your concerns.
If the owner could eliminate drug dealing, ¤ Call the Mayor or Your Political
fewer good families would move out, fewer Representative. In public housing,
problem families would move in, marketing the housing commissioners—the policy
would improve, vacancies would decrease, makers—are all appointed by local


politicians. Calls of concern from Strategy 3. Establish Relationships

politicians can inspire action. with the Residents
¤ Send a Press Release to News­ The majority of residents are just as upset
paper, Radio, and TV Organiza­ about drugs and crime as the surrounding
tions. It is best to have facts. The community. These residents make eager al­
press loves statistics. Get crime data lies. Their values are probably the same: re­
from the police and include it in the ducing fear of crime and increasing safety for
press release. Show the extent of the their children. They are essential as partners
problem quantitatively. Highlight a because they are the ones who must lower
human interest story, someone af­ tolerances to crime.
fected by crime. Provide names, ad­
Most residents in high-crime, multi-family
dresses, and phone numbers. Finally,
rental communities are isolated. Their isola­
tell the press specifically what you
tion reinforces their fear of crime and retalia­
want the owner or manager to do.
tion. A joint effort with the larger community
Make sure the general public knows
to fight drugs and crime can help them feel
that drug trafficking and safety in multi­
connected. Here are some suggestions for
family housing is the issue, not unem­
beginning such a relationship.
ployment, education, or overcrowded
prisons. ¤ Attend the Next Resident Meet­
¤ Go Back to the Politicians. Keep ing. Hold the meeting at the housing
them in the picture. Keep them part of development. Share your concern
the solution. about crime in the larger community.
¤ Demonstrate. Use signs and ¤ Reach Out to Resident Leaders.
chants. This will bring the press back Invite the resident leadership to attend
as well as the politicians, who have a your civic association meeting.
tendency to promise things in front of ¤ Plan Joint Activities. Hold a
cameras. This tactic hurts the owner’s street party, cultural celebrations,
ability to market the units and may youth activities, youth sports, educa­
bring the owner to the table. In addi­ tion programs, etc.
tion, many residents who are upset ¤ Develop Joint Programs. Involve
may join in or introduce themselves. residents in crime-reduction programs
You need them as part of the solution, like community block watch.
so keep them involved. ¤ Use Your Clout. Use your influence
¤ Ask HUD to Freeze Subsidy with city government and the business
Payments. If this is a private, subsi­ community to support resident initia­
dized complex, find out who the own­ tives to obtain services, establish job
ers are (often they are out of state). programs, etc.
Tell them you will file a complaint with These are just suggestions. Work with the
HUD and request that it freeze all sub­ existing traditions of the community and de­
sidy payments. If they don’t listen, get velop an approach that builds on them.
an attorney and do it.


With a positive relationship with the owner tion through Urban Design. Changes in
and a connection to the residents, you are physical design can be very technical, and
now ready for Strategy 4. they are also specific to the local multi-family
housing’s construction and maintenance.
Tip: As crime increases, residents’ Once addressed, however, you will see how
fear of retaliation increases and much all of the changes are based on com­
their willingness to help manage­
ment decreases. If this is the case,
mon sense. Here are some suggestions that
trying too hard to involve residents will help you begin the process.
may cause further problems. Make
sure residents are aware of the of­
¤ Improve Lighting. This is one of
fer to work together. Later, as the quickest, easiest, and least expen­
change occurs, the residents may sive physical changes that dramatically
feel more secure and accept the of­ helps reduce crime. Place lights in
dark common areas, especially areas
that are known locations of drug traf­
Strategy 4. Develop a Plan to ficking.
Change Physical Conditions ¤ Change the Traffic Patterns. If
Years of study and program evaluation have the housing community has entrances
concluded that there is a direct connection and exits that allow traffic to easily
between the design of a community and drive through, block multiple exits and
crime. Overcrowding, high-rise family living, change traffic patterns to make it diffi­
poor lighting, easy access to the property, cult to get out of the property. (This
common areas that do not allow observation, needs to be coordinated with police,
and many other factors affect the level of fire, and emergency medical services
crime. to make sure emergency response ve­
hicles can still move through quickly.)
Specific physical characteristics of the prop­
¤ Place Fencing Near Vacant Ar­
erty are also related to specific types of
eas. Consider fencing areas where
crimes. For example, if burglary is a prob­
the property backs up to woods, open
lem, window and door security are important.
fields, and other vacant common ar­
If auto theft is a major problem, then the de­
eas. Avoid putting a fence around the
sign and location of parking is an issue.
entire property; this creates a prison­
Open-air drug trafficking is heavily influenced
like image and does little to reduce
by road design and traffic patterns. Keep this
drug trafficking.
in mind when negotiating with the owner or
¤ Consider Decorative Fencing in
manager. Target the criminal activity that is
Common Areas. This creates pe­
the worst problem and identify the physical
destrian patterns that allow better sur­
problem that may be contributing to it.
veillance. People who stray from the
Crime prevention through environmental de­ common passageways become more
sign (CPTED) is an approach that was made conspicuous.
popular by Oscar Newman in his 1972 publi­ ¤ Remove Landscaping. Your ob­
cation, Defensible Space: Crime Preven- jective here is to remove overgrown


bushes and other landscaping that ence in the business. This manual cannot
provide cover or restrict surveillance in provide enough information to allow commu­
common areas. nities to successfully assist in revamping man­
¤ Install Surveillance Cameras. agement systems; however, there are three
These can be monitored by elderly activities that the community can undertake to
residents and the police. improve and help management without inter­
¤ Remove All Litter Daily. One indi­ vening inappropriately in the management
cator of a high level of tolerance for process.
crime is excessive litter. ¤ Do Background Checks on Po­
¤ Remove Graffiti Daily. Removing
tential Tenants. Support the
graffiti shows who is in control of the owner or manager in obtaining police
community. (See Chapter 7 on graffiti criminal record screening of potential
removal.) tenants. Use your positive relation­
¤ Secure Vacant Units. Make sure ships with the police to design an ef­
vacant units are boarded and secured. fective process for screening appli­
cants. Many owners who manage
These examples are relatively easy and inex­
high-crime communities only check the
pensive. More expensive and complex
criminal records of the head of the
strategies can follow as the environment im­
family. Encourage record checks for
proves. For example, reducing unit density,
all members of the family.
redesigning parking areas, and major reha­
¤ Tighten Eligibility Requirements.
bilitation can also help reduce crime.
Work with the owner to establish strict
Tip: If the surrounding community
eligibility and screening requirements.
does not first develop a positive re­ If you have a relationship with the
lationship and a common goal with residents, they will support family eli­
the owner but insists on physical gibility changes. (They may not sup­
changes to the property, the owner
may feel the request is none of the
port changes in the lease very easily.)
community’s business. Agree on ¤ Enforce Leases and Evict Crimi­
the common goal first. nals. Help link community policing
efforts to the on-site management.
Start by helping to identify the most
serious problem families and develop­
Strategy 5. Encourage Changes in ing a law enforcement strategy to re­
Management move them. Typically, on-site man­
This is a very difficult but important strategy. agement will wait for a violation of the
The police can arrest criminals, but if the law and then begin the long, tedious
owner permits problem families to move in, job of eviction. Often, they lose those
police efforts will not solve drug and crime cases. Targeted law enforcement in
problems. Improving multi-family housing cooperation with management and
management is a process that requires experi­ residents sends a powerful message of
intolerance to perpetrators.


The strategy is very simple: get problem fami­ This will show patterns linking the
lies out and prevent problem families from rental housing to the overall commu­
moving in. If this is done in conjunction with nity.
making physical improvements, the results will ¤ Change Traffic Patterns. Extend
be noticeable. Good families will not move the traffic pattern changes in the rental
out as quickly, crime will be reduced, the community to the larger community.
property will look better, and it will be more ¤ Address Housing Vacancies.
marketable to new families who want to live Address any issues of vacant housing
and raise their children in a crime-free envi­ in the surrounding community. Many
ronment. times, these units support drug activity
in the multi-family units.
Tip: Approach the owner with the ¤ Use Community Policing Ap­
offer to help build relationships proaches. Work with your commu­
with the local police. Your alliance
can be very helpful in negotiating
nity policing officers to identify, target,
changes. Of course, if the strate­ and eliminate street-level disorder
gies work, the problem will proba­ problems near the rental housing.
bly move into the larger commu-
nity—drug dealers will move onto
your corners—so be prepared by
using the other strategies in this
Putting It All Together
manual. When multi-family rental housing has serious
drug and crime problems, serious problems
Strategy 6. Work with the Police on can also occur in the surrounding community.
Crime Prevention Strategies Attacking the problem with the assumption
that the owner and residents are part of the
This strategy overlaps many of the others.
problem can make the situation worse.
The police can be very helpful with CPTED
Community leaders should approach the
strategies, and they can help solve occupancy
owners and residents as partners in solving
problems caused by lack of screening. How­
the problem. Sometimes forming a partner­
ever, they can do much more. Once a col­
ship does not work, but when it does, the re­
laborative partnership is established between
sults can be dramatic. When designing a
the multi-family housing project and the sur­
strategy, keep these points in mind:
rounding community, the police can use
community policing strategies in the entire ¤ Approach the Owner or Man­
area. ager First. Don’t blame or accuse.
Don’t try to force your solution.
Chapter 9 discusses working with the police
Rather, determine how the owner or
in greater detail. The following cooperative
manager views the problem. Specifi­
activities help specifically with multi-family
cally, what is the owner’s problem? Is
it property damage? Uncollected
¤ Use Crime Mapping. Include the rent?
multi-family housing area in your ¤ Determine the Owner’s Values.
community crime mapping activities. What are the owners goals? Whether


increasing revenues, decreasing ex­ Vance, Timothy. (1994). How to Get Drug
penses, decreasing vacancies, or re­ Enterprises Out of Housing. New York:
pairing the property, you need to Citizens Housing and Planning Council. 323-
know. 391-9030.
¤ Establish a Goal That Serves Weisel, Deborah Lamm. (1990). Tackling
Both Your Interests and the
Drug Problems in Public Housing: A
Owner’s. Call it something like “Op­
Guide for Police. Washington: Police Ex­
eration Reduce.” You reduce crime,
ecutive Research Forum. 202-466-7820.
the owner reduces expenses. Make
sure there is common ground. Now Wekerly, G. R. (1995). Safe Cities. New
you are collaborating. York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 800-842-
¤ Include Community Policing Ef­ 3636.
forts as Part of the Collabora­
tion. Enlist the police in all of your Organizations
strategies. Have them help with U. S. Department of Housing and U
screening, abandoned cars, lighting, Development (HUD)
and CPTED. HUD Drug Information and Strategy Clear­
¤ Try to Include the Residents. If inghouse
you can’t do this right away, leave the P.O. Box 6424
door open. Nothing will change if Rockville, MD 20850
residents don’t demonstrate lower tol­ 800-578-DISC
erances for crime.
Join Together
441 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
Bursik, R. J., Jr., and H. G. Grasmick. Assistance to community groups for reducing
(1993). Neighborhoods and Crime. New substance abuse and gun violence.
York: Lexington Books. 800-956-7739 or
212-702-3130. Residential Police Officer Program
Clarke, R. V. (ed). (1992). Situational Alexandria Police Department
Crime Prevention. Albany: Harrow and 2003 Mill Road
Heston. 518-456-4894. Alexandria, VA 22314
Crowe, T. D. (1991). Crime Prevention
Capt. Kenneth Howard
through Environmental Design: Applications
Police officers living and working in public
of Architectural Design and Space Manage­
housing neighborhoods.
ment Concepts. Stoneham, Massachusetts:
Butterworth-Heinemann. 800-366-2665.


Chapter 4

Crack Houses and Other

Indoor Drug Markets

T his chapter is about fighting drug

dealing that takes place inside houses
or apartments. Although some deal­
ers may try to keep their crack cocaine and
people like you to drive them out of the
neighborhood. This chapter explores the
various methods by which community mem­
bers who are sick of living in constant fear
heroin sales confined to a private space, usu­ and dread can fight back against indoor drug
ally the surrounding community finds out markets.
quickly what’s going on. If you live near a It is extremely common for drug dealers to
“crack house,” you know it . . . and you’re use private or abandoned homes as “crack
every bit as upset about it as you would be if houses,” which are basically drug taverns—
the dealing took place on the sidewalk. If places where not only are drugs sold, but
you happen to live in an apartment building or where facilities and space are provided for
complex where someone is dealing drugs customers to shoot up or smoke their drugs
from an apartment or common space, it is right on the premises.
even more futile to try to insulate yourself
from the problem. Normal efforts by police against these estab­
lishments almost never succeed in shutting
them down for good. Even if arrests are
made, a replacement team is back in the
Analyzing the Problem
house doing business within a short period of
Drug dealers are attracted to indoor spaces time. The reason is that crack houses are
for obvious reasons: they can stockpile large rarely under the control of the dealers doing
quantities of drugs right at the point of sale, business within. Instead, they are outposts of
conduct business where law enforcement large drug operations that work in the shad­
can’t see them, and provide space and para­ ows and are barely nicked by a crack house
phernalia for their customers to use the drugs raid. But while the police alone cannot stop
just purchased. this activity, angry and well-mobilized private
The good news is that when drug dealers do citizens can make the difference.
business inside, they also make it easier for


Strategies and Tactics The idea is simply to shame the drug dealers
and communicate moral outrage. The effects
If there is a crack house or shooting gallery in
are threefold. First, it lets the drug dealers
your neighborhood, there are three basic ap­
know that the community will no longer pas­
proaches you can take to drive it out:
sively accept the ravages of drug dealing in
¤ Anti-drug marches and vigils their neighborhood. A few of them might
¤ Drug nuisance abatement (direct legal heed the message and change their lives. If
action) nothing else, it will scare off some customers
¤ Eviction and make the dealers realize they were wrong
Of course, it is an excellent idea to proceed to assume that the neighborhood would toler­
with more than one strategy simultaneously. ate a crack house. Second, the Wrice Proc­
ess kindles the spirit of a community. When
Strategy 1. Anti-Drug Marches and people participate in or hear about the rallies,
Vigils they discover that as a united front, they have
One of the first persons to successfully or­ power and need not be paralyzed by fear.
ganize others to develop a system of anti-drug Third, it sends a wakeup call to city govern­
marches and vigils was Herman Wrice, a ment, which sometimes neglects citizens who
former inner-city athletic coach from Phila­ are unorganized and appear apathetic. Police
delphia. After watching in horror as some of officers are inspired by the marchers in the
his star athletes got involved in drugs, Mr. same way pro athletes are inspired by the
Wrice became an anti-drug activist in the late home crowd. In city after city, amazing
1980s. The techniques he developed for changes in neighborhoods have been set in
driving drug dealers out of a neighborhood motion by ordinary people in matching T­
have been replicated with success in many shirts gathering to chant outside crack houses.
cities across the country.
Tip: Be sure that the houses you
The “Wrice Process” is about the power of target for protest are indeed drug
shame. The idea is to form a local organiza­ locations. Some civil liberties ad­
tion of fed-up, drug-hating neighbors to vocates argue that the Wrice Proc­
ess is unconstitutional because it
gather in large crowds at known drug loca­ amounts to public punishment for
tions to vocally express the community’s dis­ the crime of drug dealing, without
approval. A Wrice group (often using the the accusation having been proven
name “Turn Around [their city]” and wearing in court. Courts have held to the
contrary: protesters have First
matching T-shirts and caps) will surround a Amendment rights. Targeting an
local crack house night after night, chanting innocent home, however, will back­
anti-drug slogans. They work hand-in-hand fire. A group should therefore
with the police so that when police raid a drug never rally on the basis of mere
suspicion or an uncorroborated ac­
location, the group is waiting outside to form cusation of drug activity.
a gauntlet for arrested dealers and users to
pass through.


Strategy 2. Drug Nuisance tenants. If the judge finds fault with the prop­
Abatement erty owner for allowing the drug activity, the
The second approach involves the legal sys­ judge can condition the owner’s continued
tem. Many states now have “drug nuisance possession on the owner’s compliance with
abatement” statutes that declare any property security measures. In some cases where
used for drug activity to be a per se nuisance. owners have refused to properly maintain
The discussion here is necessarily general be­ properties found to be drug nuisances, judges
cause the specifics of the law will vary from have placed the properties in receivership,
state to state. To get a clearer picture of your appointing local nonprofit groups as receivers.
state’s law, it will be necessary to consult with The receiver takes responsibility for the evic­
a local lawyer. tion of drug-dealing tenants, orders repairs
and renovations (paid for by the owner), and
Tip: As mentioned in the last chap­ screens prospective tenants.
ter, some local law firms will pro­
vide free legal aid to homeowner A quicker legal option that can sometimes be
or community groups. Also, re­
just as effective is the small-claims court ac­
member that lawyers who are em­
ployed by your city already work for tion. Public nuisance cases can also be
you. Set up a meeting with your brought in small-claims court, and if enough
city attorney or your prosecutor to neighbors simultaneously file suit, they can
discuss drug nuisance abatement.
make an end run around the slow and expen­
sive regular court system and still threaten
Most drug nuisance abatement laws authorize enough damage that the owner will likely con­
community groups or city or state lawyers to sider a settlement.
bring civil lawsuits against the owner of prop­
erty that they allege is being used for drug ac­ Tip: In Texas and elsewhere,
tivity. At trial, the plaintiff must show by a community groups have enlisted
preponderance of the evidence (an easier the cooperation of the National
Guard on such matters as carrying
standard than criminal court) that the allega­
out building demolition orders.
tion is true. This is typically accomplished by
a combination of police testimony and com­
Whatever legal action you choose to take, it
munity testimony, but if community residents
is important to first inform the landlord in
are too frightened to testify, police testimony
writing of your intentions. Often, just the
will sometimes be enough (especially if police
threat of a legal battle will be enough to gain
have searched the property pursuant to a
cooperation. However, you must be prepared
search warrant).
to back up your threat.
If a plaintiff wins a drug nuisance abatement
suit, the judge has great flexibility in ordering a Strategy 3. Evictions to Fight Drug
solution to the problem. For example, the Dealing in Apartment Buildings
judge can order a building to be demolished if Drug dealing in apartment buildings presents
it is found to be a safety hazard, and can or­ its own unique set of issues. The best strate­
der eviction proceedings against drug-dealing gies for combating crack houses are not al­


ways appropriate for use in apartment build­ in the building). In that case, your tenants’
ings. The techniques of Herman Wrice, for association or your city or state attorney will
example, may not be well-suited because you first have to bring a drug nuisance abatement
really can’t assemble a crowd right outside suit against the landlord. If you can show in
the drug dealer’s door. court that the landlord tolerates drug dealing,
the judge should order eviction proceedings
Usually, the drug dealers in an apartment
against the dealers and/or appoint a receiver
building are legal tenants. Even if much of the
to do what the landlord should have done.
drug activity is taking place in common areas
of the building, someone’s apartment is usu­ In any event, keep in mind that while eviction
ally the home base of the operation. Often, of drug dealers is essential, it is a very poor
multiple tenants are members of the drug en­ strategy to make that the only weapon in your
terprise, and different apartments fulfill differ­ arsenal. Be proactive, not reactive. In other
ent functions. (For example, one apartment is words, rather than waiting for drug dealers to
for cooking drugs, another is a lookout post, appear, your tenant association should be
and another is for sales.) working closely with the landlord and the po­
lice to implement building policies that will
You probably are not alone if drug activity is
discourage dealers from ever setting up shop
worrying you. Reach out to your neighbors
there at all. Here are a few basic examples:
and work together.
¤ Lease Language. Put language
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If tenants are
into the lease of every tenant that
dealing drugs, they must be evicted. Your
clearly states that buying or selling
first task as a tenant activist is to figure out
drugs in the building or using the
how you’re going to get those dealers
apartment to support an indoor drug
evicted. That process must begin by meeting
enterprise in any manner is an express
with your landlord, presenting your evidence
violation of the lease. Screen new
of drug dealing, and asking the landlord to
tenants appropriately. If your building
bring a summary eviction proceeding.
is public housing, the lease provision
If a drug enterprise is operating from multiple should be complemented by a “one
apartments in your building, there is little value strike and you’re out” policy against
in evicting one dealer at a time. The opera­ anyone who participates in the drug
tion will easily recover from the loss of one trade. “One strike” means that the
apartment. It is much better to work with po­ housing authority will move swiftly to
lice and wait until you can identify every evict undesirable tenants. (The policy
apartment involved. Then, your landlord can is discussed in greater detail in Chap­
uproot the entire operation at once by moving ter 5 on trespass laws.)
to evict all the dealers simultaneously. ¤ Tenants’ Association. Maintain a
You may find that your landlord is not inter­ well-organized tenants’ association.
ested in getting rid of drug dealers and refuses When tenants feel connected to the
to pursue evictions (indeed, the landlord’s in­ building and their fellow tenants, they
difference may be why you have drug dealers


are much less likely to tolerate drug pate in marches located in the other two
dealing. neighborhoods.
¤ Locks. Always keep a secure lock The assembled group, in their anti-drug uni­
on the doors of the building. If a lock forms, marched straight into three of the city’s
is broken, have it replaced the next most notorious open air drug markets chant­
day. Give a key to every police offi­ ing, “Up with hope! Down with dope!”
cer who covers your beat, so that Mounted police, including Police Chief Mi­
dealers know that the police can enter chael Snowden, led the way up Cincinnati’s
the building without warning. Auburn Avenue. The drug fighters squared
¤ Monitor Vacant Units. If there are off against dealers at two corners and one
vacant units in your building, monitor crack house, each struggle lasting nearly two
them carefully for drug activity. Do hours. The marchers chanted, “We’re fired
not seal them off—that will only deny up! We ain’t takin’ no more!” At first the
management access to the unit after drug dealers made fun of the marchers, mim­
dealers break in through the walls, icking their chants and laughing at them. As
ceilings, or floors of adjoining units. the sea of yellow shirts and white hard hats
¤ Keep It Clean. Do not let garbage continued to chant, “Drug dealer, drug dealer,
or debris pile up in the building’s alleys you can’t hide/We charge you with geno­
and yards. The sight of a building in cide,” some of the dealers began to get angry.
disrepair will attract dealers. Keep the They cursed the marchers. At one point,
entrance, hallways, vestibule and alleys someone threw eggs at the marchers. But the
well-lit at all times. marchers just kept on chanting. Eventually
the drug dealers, having lost their customers
for the night, wandered off.
Putting It All Together
The city of Cincinnati brought Herman Wrice Every time a drug dealer retreated, a joyous
in to train citizens in his anti-drug technique. roar went up among the crowd of marchers.
After a two-day training session, more than At least for that night, the community had
200 people donned yellow shirts and white won. Although that victory was still tempo­
hard hats for the group’s kickoff march in rary, there had been a permanent change
September 1996. The volunteers included among the marchers. They knew that people
women and men, blacks and whites, college power could work, that if the community
students, families with children, and senior worked together they could get rid of the
citizens. Up to 30 police officers also joined dealers. That night one woman who lost a
in the march. The officers provided an added son to drug abuse said that for the first time
measure of security. In addition, the police she was not afraid of the drug dealers.
provided information about the most active
drug markets and crack houses. The plan
was to focus on active drug corners or crack
houses within three targeted communities.
Residents in these communities would partici­


References Mann, Stephanie, and M. C. Blakeman.

(1993). Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods:
Publications Stopping Crime Where You Live. Berkeley,
California: Nolo Press. 510-549-1976.
Artigiani, Erin. (1996). Revitalizing Balti-
more’s Neighborhoods: The Community 350 Tested Strategies to Prevent Crime: A
Association’s Guide to Civil Legal Reme­ Resource for Municipal Agencies and
dies. Baltimore: Community Law Center. Community Groups. (1995). Washington:
410-366-0922. National Crime Prevention Council. 202-
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. (1993).
A Civil War: A Community Legal Guide to
Fighting Street Drug Markets. New York: Organizations
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft—Attor- Bureau of Justice Assistance
neys at Law. (Also available from the Center Office of Justice Programs
for the Community Interest, 202-785-7844.) U.S. Department of Justice
BJA Clearinghouse
A Community-Oriented Drug War: Cin-
P.O. Box 6000
cinnati’s Experience with the Wrice Proc­
Rockville, MD 20850
ess. (1997). Washington: The Center for the
Community Interest. 202-785-7844.
National information clearinghouse.
Conner, Roger, and Patrick Burns. (1991).
The Winnable War: A Community Guide Center for the Community Interest
to Eradicating Street Drug Markets. Roger Conner
Washington: The Center for the Community 919 18th St., N.W., Suite 800
Interest. 202-785-7844. Washington, DC 20006
Creating a Climate of Hope: Ten Neigh­ 202-785-7844
borhoods Tackle the Drug Crisis. (1992). Legislative drafting and litigation defense of
Washington: National Crime Prevention cutting-edge ordinances.
Council. 202-466-6272.
Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety
Finn, Peter, and Maria O’Brien Hylton. Warren Friedman
(1994). Using Civil Remedies for Criminal 28 East Jackson, Suite 1215
Behavior: Rationale, Case Studies and Chicago, IL 60604
Constitutional Issues. Washington: National 312-461-0444
Institute of Justice. 800-851-3420. Community organizing and collaborative
Gordon, Corey L., and William Brill. (1996). problem solving.
The Expanding Role of Crime Prevention
Through Environmental Design in Prem­ Citizens Committee for New York City, Inc.
ises Liability. Washington: National Institute Felice Kirby
of Justice. 800-851-3420. 305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10001


Community organizing and collaborative
problem solving.

National Association of Town Watch

P.O. Box 303
7 Wynnewood Road, Suite 215
Wynnewood, PA 19096
Assistance with community watch programs.

National Crime Prevention Council

1700 K St., N.W., Second Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Building partnerships and collaborative prob­
lem solving.

Safe Streets Now!

Mollie Wetzel
408 13th St., Suite 452
Oakland, CA 94612
Small-claims court tactics.

Turn Around America

Andy Garr
3321 Danville Drive, #506
Kilgore, TX 75662
Training for confrontational marches and vigils
(the Wrice Process).

Youth Crime Watch of America

Vernon Jones
9300 South Dadeland Boulevard, Suite 100
Miami, FL 33156
Involving youth in anti-crime strategies.


Chapter 5


T his chapter is about trespass, the un­

authorized intrusion onto someone
else’s property. A chronic problem in
many apartment buildings and complexes is
make an arrest for trespassing, he or she must
be certain that the person is in fact a tres­
passer rather than a guest or resident. In
most states, trespass on the grounds of a
the congregation of people who don’t live building is a “violation,” a classification that is
there and don’t belong there. Often, they are less serious than a misdemeanor. Police can­
on the premises to commit crimes such as not make an arrest for such an offense unless
dealing drugs or stealing from residents and they witness it in person. Trespass within a
cars. But even by their mere presence, these residential building is typically a misdemeanor.
trespassers detract greatly from the quality of Although officers can technically make an ar­
life. They disrupt the peace and frighten resi­ rest for a misdemeanor based on a complaint,
dents. They cause people to avoid and keep it is common for police, prosecutors, and
their children away from common areas that judges to refuse any action unless the officer
everyone should feel free to enjoy. actually sees the offense. In addition, judges,
or prosecutors, will often dismiss any charges
unless it is proven that the person has been
Analyzing the Problem warned to stay away.
It is common for drug dealers and gangs who Even when the officer sees the trespassers,
prey on their neighbors to use the common they may claim to be guests of a legal resi­
spaces of apartment buildings and housing dent. Unless the police officer has some way
complexes in order to conduct their business. to identify the individuals as trespassers, no
The constant movement of residents and arrest can be made. Further, the police must
guests provides cover for both buyers and have clear knowledge that the owner has
sellers of drugs and other illicit goods. warned the person to stay off the property. If
Apartments within the building or complex an owner or manager is frightened or does
often provide places to store drugs, make not live on the property, putting sufficient evi­
deals, or escape from police. dence together can be very difficult.
This kind of trespass problem can be difficult These limits are especially frustrating for po­
for police. In order for a police officer to lice and residents when everyone suspects


that an arrest followed by a search might un­ borhood. When a neighborhood is patrolled
cover drugs or guns, leading to a more seri­ (and street signs are prominently displayed to
ous charge than mere trespassing. As a re­ publicize the fact), criminals can never be sure
sult, police officers, residents, and property that they operate out of sight.
owners frequently blame each other, feeling
angry and powerless in the face of a persis­ Tip: Remember, a trespasser
tent problem. doesn’t have to be seen breaking
another law to be asked to leave.
Nonetheless, trespassing is ultimately like A trespasser who does not live in
other types of disorder in residential commu­ the apartment complex does not
belong on the property.
nities: it exists only to the degree that it is tol­
erated by the people who live with it. Drug
Neighborhood patrols are particularly effec­
dealers, pimps, and thieves choose a particu­
tive against trespassers. Trespassers some­
lar place to hang out because they can see
times lurk in darkness and shadows. If they
that there is not an effective partnership
know that residents are looking out for them,
among residents, owners, and police.
and that they might be observed without their
knowledge so that police can be called in to
catch them by surprise, they won’t be com­
Strategies and Tactics fortable near your building and will look for
This chapter discusses three strategies you some other place to loiter.
can use:
Neighborhood patrols should target the times
¤ Deny trespassers access to your and places in which there is the greatest
building. problem. As in the case of drug dealing, usu­
¤ Work with police. ally trespassers are most visible during week­
¤ Deal with residents who shelter tres­ end nights. Make sure to include as many
passers. neighbors as possible by providing good no­
tice of when and where patrols will take
Strategy 1. Deny Trespassers place. Some communities set up a “telephone
Access tree” so people can call each other efficiently.
There are two primary methods of denying Others distribute or post in public places an­
trespassers easy access to places where they nouncements of the patrols. Those partici­
don’t belong: neighborhood patrols and citi­ pating in patrols should have some identifying
zens’ arrest. These actions should immedi­ uniform, such as the same color hats or T­
ately improve the situation. Chapter 3 on shirts. Generally, it is advisable to be rea­
drug dealing in housing developments dis­ sonably polite to trespassers you encounter.
cusses physical security procedures that can Your goal is to let the trespassers know they
also limit access of unwanted guests. are not welcome. If you fear that the tres­
Neighborhood Patrols. Many community passers are potentially violent, ask a security
groups conduct neighborhood patrols. These guard or local police officer to accompany
are programs in which citizens organize their your group on initial patrols.
own patrols to keep their eyes on the neigh­


Neighborhood groups should also work with Strategy 2. Work with Police
the property management to get “No Tres­ A campaign against trespass should start with
passing” signs prominently posted. This de­ a meeting of concerned residents, property
nies the trespassers an opportunity to say they owners, and officials of your local police pre­
were not aware they were trespassing. cinct. Relations between police and your
Citizens’ Arrest. If your building has pri­ community may be strained. Perhaps you
vate security, check the law of your state on have tried to get police help against trespass­
“citizens’ arrest.”1 Security personnel have ers in the past and felt that the police didn’t
the same right to make arrests as all private care. Nevertheless, you must at least try to
persons. Some states allow a citizen to arrest make a fresh start.
(that is, detain someone against his or her will
until police arrive) for misdemeanors com­ Tip: Remember, just because the
police have not enforced trespass
mitted in the citizen’s presence. This right can laws yet, it doesn’t mean that they
be especially useful in dealing with trespass­ won’t or they can’t. Sometimes
ers. A security guard patrolling the grounds they just need to be reminded that
can hold a trespasser for police, rather than residents want the law enforced.

give the trespasser an opportunity to flee.

You need the police to enforce the criminal
However, in many states, that approach is trespass law—it’s not something that you or
unavailable. In these states, the law provides your citizens’ group can do by itself. If you
that citizens generally may not arrest for mis­ reach out to the police in a spirit of coopera­
demeanors. In Texas, for example, a private tion, not confrontation, you can find ways to
citizen may only arrest for “a felony or . . . work together against trespassers. Once you
offense against the public peace” committed have the police motivated to help, a way must
in the citizen’s presence. 2 A community be found so that police can easily identify
group in Dallas is currently waging a cam­ trespassers and order them off the property
paign with the state legislature to expand the or arrest them. Here are some tactics you
scope of citizens’ arrest to allow property can use:
owners or their agents (such as security
guards) to arrest for criminal trespass. If your ¤ Formal Notices to Stay Away. In
state also fails to authorize this practice, you many jurisdictions, property owners
might consider meeting with your representa­ and courts have worked together to
tives in the state legislature to urge them to create a form that contains a person’s
amend the law. name and photograph with a statement
that the person is banned from a par­
Another word about citizens’ arrest: the per­ ticular property. Copies of these no­
son making the arrest must be very sure that tices are delivered to the person by a
the detained person is truly guilty of the of­ representative of the owner and
fense of criminal trespass as it is defined in posted in the building. In large housing
your state. If citizens turn out to be wrong, complexes that have their own regular
they may be liable to the detainee in a lawsuit officers assigned or where community
for false imprisonment. policing is in effect, the officers them­


selves may receive copies of the no­ developments; however, the local
tices. This works in situations where public housing authority may need to
the same person keeps returning to the enact a specific trespass resolution to
property after repeated warnings. allow for enforcement of the law.
Armed with this information, the offi­ ¤ Get Police to Issue a Warning. It
cer can make an arrest. is easier to persuade an officer to tell
¤ Court Orders. In some jurisdictions, someone to leave and issue a warning
procedures have been created that al­ than to make a formal arrest. Even if
low a court order to be obtained that the trespassers step off the premises
directs the person to stay away. It is just as police arrive on the scene, it
not enough to obtain such an order, should be standard practice for the of­
however; residents can help by making ficer to have the owner or owner’s
sure that officers have copies of the agent warn the trespassers, in the offi-
orders or by directing the officer to a cer’s presence, that they are not wel­
resident manager’s office where cop­ come and should never return. The
ies are kept. Low-level drug dealers manager, owners, or residents should
and prostitutes typically get probation take Polaroid pictures of this warning
instead of jail time, but the court can being given. The photos should then
place conditions on them. You can be hung in the apartment building
ask prosecutors and judges to include lobby. This procedure will send a
stay away orders as a condition for powerful message to the trespasser:
probation. Residents need to obtain the police know who you are, they
the name of the person’s probation of­ know you don’t belong in this building,
ficer and be prepared to call if the per­ and if they ever catch you there, they
son returns to the premises. will not feel any need to let you off
¤ Posting Lists of Excluded Per­ with another warning.
sons in Public Places. By posting ¤ Truancy Laws. If your trespassers
these lists in public places, residents appear to be school-age youth and
can play an important role in motivat­ they are on the premises during school
ing owners and officers to enforce the hours, call the truancy office of your
trespass laws. After a warning has local school district. Truancy officers
been issued, trespassers’ names can are not police, so they are unburdened
be put on a list that can be distributed by any need to personally witness
to residents, building management, se­ trespass. If you can lead them to the
curity guards, and the local police. If youth or tell them where to look, they
these previously warned individuals will probably be eager to intervene.
are seen on the property and reported Similarly, if the trespassers are on
to police, they can be arrested, even if probation or parole, you may be able
they are not trespassing at the moment to work with the probation or parole
the police arrive. These laws usually officers to get the trespassers to stay
work the same way in public housing off your property.


¤ Police–Owners Affidavit Pro­

Tip: Do not hesitate to ask for ad­
grams. In many jurisdictions, police
vice and assistance from your local
and owners are overcoming the notice housing officials. They will want to
problem with a new form of coopera­ work with you. After all, “One
tion: trespass affidavits. Owners exe­ Strike” is a presidential initiative.
Housing officials look good when
cute an affidavit that makes the police they use it.
the agent of the owner for identifying
and removing trespassers. The owner The first step is to call a tenant meeting to dis­
then posts signs that state “No Tres­ cuss the problem. If it is agreed that tres­
passing, Residents and Their Guests passing should no longer be tolerated, the
Only,” and provides police with an up- tenants must commit themselves to rewriting
to-date list of tenants. (Police must the “Administration and Occupancy” (A &
receive a new list of tenants regularly.) O) policy to crack down on unwelcome out­
Armed with this affidavit and the siders and tenants who let them in.
tenant roster, police can ask anyone in
a public space for their name and the Revising the A & O policy can be a complex
name of the person they are going to process. Once you get into specific propos­
visit. A person who cannot supply this als for new policies, you are bound to gener­
information can be expelled or ar­ ate controversy. Certain changes you will
rested. In Manhattan alone, over 250 need to make may seem too harsh to some
landlords have placed over 600 build­ tenants. Indeed, you may find that when you
ings in the Trespass Affidavit Program. get into specifics, the will to change just isn’t
there—that the tenants prefer the status quo.
Strategy 3. Deal with Residents But don’t give up in frustration, or try to ram
Who Shelter Trespassers through a new policy by the sheer force of
While all of the above suggestions apply your personality, when you know the resi­
equally well to public and private housing, dents are not fully behind it. It may take sev­
residents of public housing have an additional eral meetings over a period of weeks to ne­
weapon against “invited” trespassers. Out­ gotiate a new A & O policy. Take the time
siders who sell drugs in public housing are al­ you need, not only to get the right changes on
most always there with the blessing of at least paper, but also to secure the widespread
one resident. These people may not be true support you will need if any new A & O pol­
trespassers under the law, but they certainly icy is going to work.
are in the eyes of most tenants. To get rid of Hopefully, at the end of the revision process,
them, urge your housing authority to enforce you will have an A & O policy that imposes
the “one strike and you’re out” policy against the policy known as “one strike and you’re
tenants who permit unwelcome friends or out” against tenants who allow in banned
relatives back into the building. friends and relatives. “One strike” is now
standard policy in much of the nation’s public
housing. It means that every tenant’s lease
states that if the tenant engages in certain pro­


scribed activities—even once—the housing Under your new A & O policy, the landlord
authority may bring an eviction proceeding should appoint a “Trespass Control Officer”
against that tenant. If the housing authority (TCO), who will process the exclusion forms,
then shows sufficient evidence of the wrong­ maintain files of excluded persons, and re­
doing at a hearing, the tenant will be evicted. ceive appeal requests. There should be a
place near the main entrance of the housing
The new A & O policy should provide that
project where the TCO will hang Polaroid
when a particular non-tenant is deemed by
photos of excluded persons, so that any resi­
the housing manager to be unwelcome, and
dent can identify a trespasser and call the po­
such non-tenant is identified as an associate of
a particular tenant, the tenant shall be warned
not to allow the non-tenant into the housing In the end, the “one strike” policy will only be
project again. If the tenant ignores the warn­ as effective as the landlord, housing manag­
ing, he or she will be subject to eviction. ers, and police officers entrusted to implement
it. Your new A & O policy should therefore
The beauty of “one strike” is that if a tenant
set out clear criteria and procedures to guide
commits an act that the other tenants have
housing managers in banning persons from the
decided not to tolerate, it doesn’t matter if the
housing project, and procedures by which
act violated the criminal law or not. Eviction
police officers can keep track of who belongs
is a civil, not a criminal, matter, so the criminal
on the premises and who doesn’t. This policy
definition is irrelevant. This also means that
should be developed in close cooperation
the rigorous standards of a criminal trial do
with the police department and housing
not apply. For example, at the eviction hear­
ing, the housing authority need only prove its
case against the tenant by a “preponderance
of the evidence” (that is, show that the tenant
is probably guilty), rather than the “proof be­ Putting It All Together
yond a reasonable doubt” standard that ap­ The 3,800 residents of public housing in
plies in criminal trials. Huntsville, Alabama, were frustrated by drug
Undoubtedly, some will find the “one strike” dealing, violence, and vandalism within their
policy too drastic. They will argue that an in­ communities. Most of the law violators were
nocent grandmother might be evicted for her not residents in the housing complexes. Resi­
inability to control a drug dealing grandson dents complained, and the Huntsville Housing
who won’t stay away from her apartment. If Authority adopted a trespass resolution in
sympathy for such persons is the overwhelm­ March 1994. The resolution bans from pub­
ing sentiment among your fellow tenants, they lic housing grounds for one year any non­
may well prefer not to impose a “one strike” resident who was charged with a crime,
policy. But you might ask them to look at the threatened violence, damaged housing
larger picture—to think of the many families authority property, or had a confrontation
currently on a waiting list for public housing, with a law enforcement officer on Huntsville
people who would follow the rules and allow Housing Authority property.
everyone else to live in peace and safety.


At the time of this writing, there were 600 Police Anti-drug Tactics: New Approaches
people specifically prohibited from setting and Applications. (1996). Washington: Po­
foot on or driving through the private areas of lice Executive Research Forum. 202-466-
Huntsville’s public housing complexes. Pri­ 7820.
vate areas include the alleys and yards. Problem-Oriented Drug Enforcement: A
Those who violate the criminal trespass re­ Community-Based Approach for Effective
quirements are subject to as much as 180 Policing. (1993). Washington: Bureau of
days in jail for each violation. Justice Assistance. 800-688-4252.
The trespass law, along with increased police Vance, Timothy. (1994). How to Get Drug
patrols, has reduced crime 87 percent over Enterprises Out of Housing. New York:
the past two years. Because it is much easier Citizens Housing and Planning Council. 323-
for police to win a conviction on criminal 391-9030.
trespass than on drug or violence charges,
police say that the criminal trespass ordinance
is one of their best tools for fighting crime in
housing complexes. American Bar Association
Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution
740 15th St.
Washington, DC 2005
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. (1993). 230 North 13th St.
A Civil War: A Community Legal Guide to Philadelphia, PA 19107
Fighting Street Drug Markets. New York: 215-567-7000
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft—Attor-
neys at Law. (Also available through the HUD Drug Information and Strategy Clear­
Center for Community Interest, 202-785- inghouse
7844.) P.O. Box 6424
Neighborhood-Oriented Policing in Rural Rockville, MD 20850
Communities: A Program Planning Guide. 800-578-DISC
(1994). Washington: Bureau of Justice As­
sistance. 800-688-4252. Huntsville (Alabama) Housing Authority
Larry Dejarnetti
New York County District Attorney’s Office.
Director of Resident Services
A Guide to Building Effective Partnerships
Among Communities, Police and Prosecu­
tors. (1993). Contact: Robert M. Morgen­
Huntsville Police Department
thau, District Attorney, New York County,
Capt. Andy Jackson, Lt. Pat Trussell, or Sgt.
One Hogan Place, New York, NY 10013.
Randy Owens


National District Attorneys’ Association

99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314

1 Citizens’arrest is not recommended for a
civilian who is not trained or equipped to
work in security, as it is simply too dangerous
an undertaking.
2 Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 14.01.


Chapter 6

Youth and Gangs

I f gangs are threatening your community,

read this chapter to learn how to take
back control. The chapter begins with
background information on gangs and the
This section offers some background infor­
mation about gangs and the criminal justice
system’s response to them, along with ques­
tions to ask when analyzing the gang prob­
criminal justice system response to gangs. lems in your neighborhood.
The strategies and tactics section includes Gang Territory. Most gangs are com­
steps you can take regardless of whether posed of young people who live in the same
gangs are a long-standing problem or are just area—a block or two, a neighborhood, a
beginning to take hold. Although the focus is multi-family apartment building or complex, a
on relatively short-term objectives, strategies school area. Loyalty to the neighborhood
are also included for developing positive al­ (the “hood”) is vitally important to many
ternatives to gangs for youth in your commu­ gangs, and it is common for gangs to have
nity. names that reflect this (57th Ave. Crips, Tor­
tilla Flats, etc.). In fact, while gang shootings
and assaults are sometimes drug-related,
Analyzing the Problem more often they occur when a gang believes
Experienced community activists will tell you its turf has been encroached upon, or when
that your best chance against gangs is to take gang members believe they have been disre­
action at the first sign of them. In some com­ spected in some way.
munities, gangs are just now gaining a foot­
Gang Activities. Youth in gangs, like other
hold, with parents, politicians, business own­
teenagers, spend a lot of time just hanging out
ers, and even the police still “in denial.” In
together. The main differences are their ex­
many other neighborhoods, gang activity and
pressions of loyalty to the gang and their in­
violence are out of control and the ideal time
volvement in delinquent and criminal activity.
to begin has passed. Either way, there are
They may be chronically truant, take lunch
really only two choices: band together and
money, bully or intimidate other students or
take deliberate, well reasoned steps to com­
residents, fight, shoplift, drink, use drugs,
bat the problem, or give up and turn over
spray graffiti, and commit other acts of van­
what’s left of the neighborhood to the gangs.
dalism. At the more extreme end of the


spectrum, gang members may be involved in culture than the development of individual
drug crimes, stealing cars, weapons offenses, gangs with a national infrastructure. While
felony assaults, arson, extortion, drive-by some street gangs have national scope, many
shootings, and homicides. Gangs and guns are localized imitations of Los Angeles or
are a lethal combination in some communities, Chicago street gangs.”1
with semiautomatic pistols as one of the most Race and Ethnic Background. Gangs
common weapons. Some gang members are often, but not always, organized along ra­
may travel out of state to buy guns and bring cial or ethnic lines. Predominantly African
them back, and a few gangs have even had American gangs may identify with (but not
members enlist in the military to learn about necessarily be closely linked with) gangs like
combat tactics and weapons. the Crips in Los Angeles or the Black Gang­
Organization and Leadership. Very few ster Disciples (BGDs) in Chicago or Detroit;
gangs are tightly structured and businesslike. or they may be strictly local gangs. The gangs
Even large, violent gangs that claim to have in the District of Columbia are called “crews.”
members throughout a city are generally not Primarily Hispanic gangs may be neighbor-
well organized, but instead tend to be a loose hood-based and independent, or they may
affiliation of small, neighborhood-based affiliate with a larger gang like the Latin Kings
gangs, sometimes called “sets.” There are (to name just one). Jamaican gangs, usually
recognized leaders—usually the members called “posses,” and gangs whose members
with the most money, drug or gun connec­ represent Asian cultures (Cambodia, Viet­
tions, or reputations for being the toughest— nam, China, Samoa, and others) may be
but leadership status tends to come and go. found throughout the country. Caucasian
Gangs that are well organized tend to be gangs include motorcycle gangs; “skinheads,”
“dedicated” to a particular type of crime like who have a white supremacist agenda; or
drug dealing, extortion, robbery, burglary, “stoner” gangs, which are mostly into using
auto theft, and others. Some gangs (such as drugs. Gangs, however, may also be racially
the Mexican Mafia in California and several mixed, a trend that seems to be increasing in
Southwestern states and the Vice Lords in some cities.
Chicago) have leaders who exert control from Signs and Symbols. Generally speaking,
their prison cells over gang activities back in youth who belong to gangs tend to advertise
their neighborhoods. their gang status, both by physical signs and
Migration. A gang may have migrated to symbols and by attitudes that reflect their re­
your neighborhood from another city, but it is jection of authority and of conventional life­
more likely that it was started by local youth, styles. Nicknames (“monikers,” or street
sometimes with help from outsiders (for ex­ names) are common. Gangs often distinguish
ample, gang-involved youth whose parents themselves by wearing the same colors,
sent them to live with relatives in what they clothing styles, clothing brands, hair styles,
hope is a safer neighborhood). In fact, many jewelry, and tattoos; by “throwing” or “flash­
police gang experts believe “the spread of ing” hand signs; or by using special symbols
street gangs is more a spread of street gang (crown, pitchfork, six-pointed star, etc.) in


their graffiti or on their clothing or property. relatively small number of members who have
Popular styles or brands may change, and a strong commitment to a gang and who
some symbols are not obvious. In one city, commit violent or other serious crimes.
for example, tennis shoes hanging over a tele­ Those with a somewhat lesser commitment
phone wire indicated a gang presence. Fi­ and less frequent involvement in serious
nally, there are some gangs that don’t “adver- crimes may be classified by police as gang
tise”—members don’t wear colors, act out in “associates.” The term “wannabe” is some­
school, etc. A number of Asian gangs and times used to refer to young children or teens
drug-dealing gangs fall into this group. who show an interest in gangs but are not
members. For example, they may adopt a
Age and Sex. There are many accounts of
gang’s style of dress, scribble gang symbols
children involved with gangs as early as ele­
on notebooks, or run errands for gang mem­
mentary school, but more typically, gangs at­
bers. Many gang experts discourage the term
tract youth between the ages of about 14 and
wannabe because they do not want to exag­
21. However, some gangs have members in
gerate these children’s gang involvement or
their twenties, thirties, or older. These mem­
add them inappropriately to a database of
bers may be called “OGs,” “old gangsters,”
gang members.
or “original gangsters.” Gangs may be all
male or all female, or they may have full­
fledged members of both sexes. All-male Gangs and Criminal Justice
gangs are the most common, with females in­ Agencies
volved on the periphery. Female friends of Police. Some police departments have spe­
gang members may just socialize with them, cialized gang units, and others do not. Lack
or they may also commit delinquent or crimi­ of a gang unit may be a matter of money, pri­
nal acts (steal weapons, hold or sell drugs, orities, or “official” denial of gang problems;
fight, act as spies). They are often subjected or the department may believe that other
to physical or verbal abuse. Just as alarming, strategies are more effective. The point is to
some communities report increasing numbers find out what your police department is doing
of all-female gangs, some of which focus on to deal with gangs.
particular crimes, such as ATM robberies, If the department does have a gang unit, it
forgery, or shoplifting. may be part of field operations, investigations,
Gang Initiation and Status. Prospective juvenile, or some other division or bureau.
gang members may be required to prove The unit’s duties may be intelligence­
themselves by going through an initiation ritual gathering, maintaining a gang database, en­
before being accepted into a gang. This may forcement, investigations, coordination with
involve committing a criminal act or taking a other jurisdictions, prevention, education, or
beating (sometimes called “jumping in” or some combination of these. Some gang units
“beating in”). Girls who join a primarily male operate anonymous tip lines. Some have
gang may be initiated the same way, or by special teams dispatched to diffuse or inter­
committing a sexual act (“sexing in”). Police vene in school-based gang incidents.
often use the term “hard core” to describe the


It is also important to discover your depart- siderable power when it comes to holding
ment’s overriding gang-enforcement strate­ violent gang members accountable.
gies. For example, is the emphasis on devel­ Prosecution. You will also want to know
oping complex cases against gang leaders, more about the prosecutor’s and court’s re­
street-level enforcement, or both? What is its sponse to gangs. For example, does the
relationship with other agencies, particularly prosecutor’s office use “vertical prosecution”
the schools and community organizations in in cases involving gang members? (Vertical
your neighborhood? How do officers’ cul­ prosecution occurs when one prosecutor or a
tural sensitivity and language skills match up team of prosecutors is assigned exclusively to
with the ethnic and racial backgrounds of handle gang-related cases.) What information
gang members in your neighborhood? If the can the prosecutor give you about gang cases
department has a gang unit, how does it co­ in your neighborhood? (Some prosecutors
ordinate with community policing officers as­ maintain their own gang databases while oth­
signed to your neighborhood? How does it ers use databases operated by the police.)
coordinate with drug enforcement units? Does the prosecutor use a “community
Probation and Parole. The juvenile or prosecution” approach, with one or more
adult probation departments serving your city prosecutors assigned exclusively to a commu­
may also have gang units. In some cities, po­ nity that includes your neighborhood? What
lice gang officers train probation personnel on protections are available for victims and wit­
gang signs, symbols, and activities. Police nesses in gang cases?
may team with probation officers to identify Corrections. Most issues related to juve­
gang members, returning to custody those nile corrections go beyond the scope of this
who violate the terms of their probation or chapter. Still, as part of your strategy, you
parole. Questions to ask include these: will want answers to these questions:
¤ Which field offices serve probationers ¤ What services are provided at juvenile
and parolees who reside in your correctional facilities that might help
neighborhood? youth give up gangs?
¤ How does the probation office work ¤ How does staff limit residents’ contact
with police and others on gang-related with other gang members in the institu­
cases and problems? tion and back home?
¤ What conditions of probation must be ¤ What kind of follow-up supervision
met by gang-involved youth? and services do gang-involved youth
¤ What services do they receive that receive when they return home?
might help them break their involve­ ¤ How can the community enhance su­
ment with gangs? pervision or improve services?
Juvenile probation officers and supervisors in These questions are critical because, even
the field office closest to your neighborhood when correctional services are available, their
should be able to tell you more about the chances for long-term success are greatly di­
gangs that threaten you. They also have con­ minished if the youth returns to a neighbor­


hood where gangs “rule” and positive alterna­ Talk to recreation center supervisors, busi­
tives are limited. ness owners, faith community leaders, public
housing and other multi-family housing staff,
Taking Inventory of Your Gang hospital emergency room personnel—anyone
Problem who has firsthand knowledge of gangs in your
To be sure your resources and energy are not community. Talk to former gang members as
misdirected, get all the information you can well as neighborhood youth who have suc­
about the particular gang problem in your cessfully avoided gang involvement. Look for
neighborhood. Be sure to find out if there is youth groups already involved in addressing
an existing anti-gang coalition you can con- gang issues, either through the schools,
tact—either a citywide group, or groups in churches, or other neighborhood organiza­
specific neighborhoods. Ask the police and tions.
prosecutor about state and local gang-related
laws and ordinances. Questions to Ask
You may well find that “official” police, ¤ How many members and associates
school, court, and other data about gangs is does the gang have? What are the age
scarce. Many police agencies, for example, range, gender, and ethnic background
do not classify crimes as gang-related or not. of its members?
Spend time talking to individual police officers ¤ What are the gang’s signs and symbols
and supervisors—community policing officers and what do they mean?
assigned to your neighborhood, the precinct ¤ Is the gang independent or affiliated
commander and community policing coordi­ with other gangs? Does it present a
nator, gang and drug unit personnel, and ju­ new or a long-standing problem in the
venile officers. Meet with school administra­ community?
tors, teachers, counselors, and coaches. Ask ¤ What geographic area does the gang
about truancy and dropout rates and what is claim, if any? Who are its rivals?
being done about them. ¤ In what types of delinquent and crimi­
nal activities are gang members en­
Tip: Find out how your police de­ gaged? (You should try to describe as
fine the term “gang-related.” In specifically as possible the who, what,
some departments, any crime in­ where, and when.)
volving a known gang member is ¤ Who are the leaders? Are they in
classified as gang-related, whether
or not the person was acting on be­ school? On probation? Are there
half of the gang. This may end up outstanding warrants for their arrest?
overstating the gang problem. ¤ What types of gang problems have
Other departments do not classify a occurred in the schools?
crime as gang-related unless it is
considered gang-motivated. This ¤ What policies do the schools have re­
may tend to understate the gang lated to gangs (for example, weapons
problem. policies or dress and behavior codes)?
How are those policies enforced?


¤ What security measures are in place in Strategy 1. Take Collective Action to

the schools? Reclaim Public Spaces
¤ How do the schools communicate with Use these tactics to send a clear message that
and work with the police on gang the community will not tolerate gangs. You
problems? may find other useful tactics in the chapters on
¤ How do the schools try to prevent open-air drug markets, indoor drug markets,
gang activity (for example, gang resis­ and drugs in multi-family housing areas.
tance education, conflict mediation,
¤ Remove Gang Graffiti Immedi­
ately. This is one of the clearest,
¤ How are school facilities in your
least complicated steps a community
neighborhood used during the after­
can take to demonstrate its unwilling­
school hours? Are they locked down,
ness to tolerate gangs and violence.
or are they available for use by the
Some jurisdictions have promised to
clean off graffiti in special zones within
24 hours. See Chapter 7 (Graffiti) for
Strategies and Tactics more information about how to con­
duct successful paint-overs and for
This section presents several strategies for
other graffiti abatement tactics.
taking back the neighborhood from gangs:
¤ Take Back a Park or a Street
¤ Take collective action to reclaim pub­ Corner. Hold community events (ral­
lic spaces. lies, block parties, festivals, etc.) in
¤ Work with the police and other crimi­ public places that “belong” to gangs.
nal justice agencies. ¤ Demonstrate. Hold marches or
¤ Improve school safety and security. vigils to demonstrate your unwilling­
¤ Improve physical conditions in the ness to live in fear and violence.
neighborhood. Mothers Against Gang Violence, Or­
¤ Conduct public information cam­ ange Hat brigades, and other groups
paigns. can provide tips on organizing these
¤ Provide youth with positive alterna­ events.
tives. ¤ Join with Others. If there is a
citywide anti-gang coalition or similar
group, make sure your neighborhood
Tip: Observe and record neighbor­
hood conditions. Use a checklist or is represented on it.
form to record problem locations
(places where gangs congregate, Strategy 2. Work with the Police and
drug dealing hot spots, abandoned Other Criminal Justice Agencies
buildings, vacant lots, etc.) and
If your community does not have a history of
conditions (such as broken street
lights) that encourage gang activity. good police/resident relationships, see Chap­
Photograph graffiti and write date ter 9 for strategies that can help improve this
and location on the back of each situation. When residents feel comfortable
with the officers assigned to their neighbor­


hood, they will be more willing to report this problem with the prosecutor and
crimes and information. the victim assistance office.
¤ Defuse Gang Conflicts. In some
¤ Report Crimes and Information.
communities, individual leaders have
Increase safety and call police atten­
successfully defused volatile situations
tion to your neighborhood by picking
and have prevented gang confronta­
up the phone and calling 911 to report
tions. These leaders have included
gang-related crimes. Form block
former gang members, police officers,
watches. Cooperate with investiga­
clergy, university professors, and oth­
tions of hard-core gang leaders.
ers. One example is the University of
¤ Set Up an Anonymous Tip Line.
Connecticut Institute for Violence Re­
Establish an anonymous tip line to
duction. Institute staff have intervened
provide police with information about
with specific gangs in Hartford, and
gangs and violence. See the section
the Institute’s board includes clergy,
on “Putting It All Together” at the end
community organizations, Mothers
of this chapter for information on the
Against Gangs, police, and others.
24-hour Secret Witness Hotline estab­
¤ Use the Power of Probation and
lished by the Ad Hoc Group Against
Parole. Probation officers have
Crime in Kansas City, Missouri.
enormous power to influence the
¤ Work with Community Policing
judge’s setting of probation conditions
Officers. Community policing em­
and to initiate proceedings to revoke
phasizes assigning officers to specific
probation for serious and violent gang
neighborhoods and encouraging them
members. They can also conduct
to solve problems with residents. (See
searches, order drug tests, and require
Chapter 9.) Find out who your neigh-
face-to-face meetings with persons
borhood’s officers are. If your de­
under their supervision. Gang mem­
partment does not make permanent
bers can be ordered to stay away
beat assignments, push for change.
from one another and to stay away
Encourage the department to give
from the neighborhood if they do not
neighborhood officers beepers or cel­
reside there. Find out who gang
lular phones so residents can contact
members’ probation officers are.
them directly
Press for stringent conditions, and re­
¤ Operate Citizen Patrols. Chapter
port violations.
2 on open-air drug dealing discusses
¤ Use the Power of the Courts
this tactic.
and Prosecutor. See Chapter 10
¤ Improve Victim and Witness
on working with courts and prosecu­
Protection. Prosecutors and police
tors. Hold them accountable for tak­
often lack resources for witness pro­
ing gangs seriously.
tection or relocation, which may be
¤ Provide Training on Diverse Cul­
necessary for witnesses of gang vio­
tures. Your police department may
lence. Explore possible solutions to
have few officers with the same cul­


tural background as the gang members the East Coast. The school also has
in your community. Community po­ graffiti removal teams, and the students
licing officers in San Diego, for exam­ developed their own Youth Crime
ple, could make little headway against Watch program, which involves 15-20
Cambodian gangs until residents influential students with radios patrol­
worked with them and introduced ling the halls. Principal Jeff Miller at
them to church leaders. Braddock strongly advocates student
¤ Volunteer as a Translator. Resi­ involvement in making the school safe
dents can provide valuable services as and secure.
translators for the police, courts, social ¤ Revise Fire Regulations. Often
services, schools, and others. these regulations require leaving too
many doors unlocked, making it easy
Strategy 3. Improve School Safety for gang members (or anyone else, for
and Security that matter) to come in and out at will.
If gangs are operating in your schools, take ¤ Train School Personnel. Ask po­
immediate steps to send a clear message of lice and community organization staff
intolerance by using tactics like these: to provide training for teachers and
¤ Revise School Rules and Regu­ other school personnel on how to rec­
lations. Work with school officials, ognize gang signs and symbols and
parent groups, and students to de­ how to use community resources.
velop regulations that discourage Other training topics might include
gangs, drugs, and violence on school drugs, nonviolent educational strate­
grounds. Develop or revise dress gies, or conflict resolution. The Alex­
codes, prohibiting gang attire. Adopt andria, Virginia, Police Department
uniforms. Ban beepers, pagers, and held special gang training for teachers
cellular phones from school grounds. and school administrators after a youth
Tighten weapons policies. was stabbed to death in a gang fight in
¤ Improve Physical Security. Con­ front of the junior high school.
sider metal detectors, security guards, ¤ Monitor School Attendance. Use
fences, landscaping, lighting improve­ parent or community volunteers to
ments, and student or parent volunteer monitor school attendance and call
patrols. No one wants the community parents of absent youth. In Anaheim,
school to look like an armed fortress, California, police gang officers are in­
yet some communities have seen the volved in attendance monitoring and
need for such measures, either as tem­ disciplinary proceedings. The officers
porary or long-term strategies. For review attendance records, contact
example, metal detectors and uni­ parents, and participate at attendance
formed guards are in place at G. H. and disciplinary hearings with students,
Braddock High in Homestead, Flor­ parents, and school officials. These
ida. With 5,000 students, Braddock officers also link arrested youth to al­
is one of the largest high schools on ternative school programs.


¤ Advocate for School Resource crime prevention, and crime prevention

Officers. These officers are located through environmental design should be able
at the school and often wear several to help by referring you to contact people in
hats. They may respond to trouble on the correct agency and by helping you cut
school grounds, develop information through red tape.
about crimes, build positive relation­ ¤ Civil Nuisance Abatement and
ships with students, and lead class­
Other Civil Remedies. Nuisance
room lessons about gangs, drugs, po­ laws, noise ordinances, health and
lice work, and other topics. building codes, and other civil reme­
¤ Form a Police/School Gang Re­ dies can be used to require property
sponse Team. Some police de­
owners to change the conditions that
partments train special units to head contribute to the gang problem. Tar­
off, respond to, and de-escalate gang­ get liquor stores that sell alcohol to
related incidents on school grounds. underage patrons, tattoo parlors, va­
cant lots and buildings, residences
Strategy 4. Improve Physical
Conditions in the Neighborhood used as drug houses, and other loca­
tions. The city attorney’s office in Los
Taking stock of your neighborhood’s gang
Angeles, for example, sends letters to
problems includes identifying locations and
private owners stating the alleged vio­
conditions (poor lighting, litter, abandoned
lation and giving the owner a chance to
buildings, etc.) that allow gangs to congregate
comply voluntarily. The office works
and commit crimes unobserved. You can im­
with owners who attempt to remedy
prove some of these conditions in the short
the situation and pursues legal cases
run by holding cleanup days, pushing for im­
against those who do not.
proved city services, and taking other direct
¤ Signs. Encourage the posting of “No
action. Bring pressure on city officials and
Trespassing” and “No Loitering” signs
businesses to help you install street lighting,
where permitted. Post your own
tighten public housing screening policies, and
block watch, “No Gangs,” “We Re­
enforce lease provisions. Remove aban­
port Gang Crimes,” and other mes­
doned and junk cars, overgrown shrubbery,
sages that show your resolve to com­
and public pay phones (or restrict them to
bat gangs.
outgoing calls only).
¤ Curfews. Consider lobbying for a
To effect long-term change, you’ll need to curfew ordinance. Ideally, parents
determine who “owns” the particular prob­ and their children together determine
lem. Who is legally responsible for fixing or and abide by curfews. But in many
removing it? Which agency (health depart­ jurisdictions where there is citizen sup­
ment, public works, code enforcement, alco­ port, local governments have passed
holic beverage control, etc.) is charged with curfew ordinances. These must be
seeing that owners comply with ordinances, carefully drawn to protect constitu­
health codes, or other regulations? Police of­ tional rights. The Dallas, Texas, cur­
ficers responsible for community policing, few ordinance is considered a model


for several reasons. The need for a porters. Tell them about the positive
curfew was backed by statistics on the steps your neighborhood is taking to
level of juvenile crime committed dur­ combat the gang problem. Encourage
ing the proposed curfew hours; the them to cover prevention and inter­
ordinance states an intent to protect vention efforts, not just suppression.
children from harm, not simply prevent Encourage editors to develop guide­
them from congregating; and the law is lines for reporting on gangs. Most
narrowly drawn, allowing exceptions news media do not have such guide­
for many legitimate reasons. As a re­ lines. Printing the names of gangs en­
sult, the Dallas curfew law has passed courages them by giving them the at­
a series of court tests, and the U.S. tention they crave. When newspapers
Supreme Court recently refused to publish the names of victims, they of­
hear a case challenging that law. Even ten identify them as victims of gang
when a curfew law is carefully con­ crimes, leaving them or their family
structed, though, there are other im­ members terrified—sometimes terror-
portant issues to consider. Police ized—as a result.
must have the resources needed to
enforce the law; the law must be en­ Strategy 6. Provide Youth with
forced consistently and fairly; children Positive Alternatives
will need a safe place to go when par­ Take a hard look at the reasons why youth
ents cannot be found; and there should join gangs. A striking number of gang mem­
be some means to hold parents ac­ bers talk about their gangs as “family,” sug­
countable. gesting that gangs offer a substitute for some­
thing missing at home. There are no easy
Strategy 5. Conduct Public answers. Sometimes youth join gangs for
Information Campaigns protection—they are afraid not to do so.
¤ Sponsor Parent and Community Sometimes the appeal is the excitement rep­
Forums on Gangs. Share the in­ resented by the gang lifestyle—quick money,
formation you have gained with a cars, parties, girls, alcohol, drugs. Some chil­
wider audience. Presentations by dren are in gangs because their relatives, in­
community leaders, police, and others cluding parents or even grandparents, are in
may be made at regular meetings of gangs. Others feel beaten down by poverty,
existing organizations or at special unemployment, crime, or school failure, and
meetings convened solely to focus on have little hope for a better future.
gangs and violence. Most gang-involved youth need more than
¤ Encourage Media Responsibil­ just one thing (a decent recreation center, for
ity. If you believe that the newspaper
example, or even a good friend) to break free
or local television and radio news cov­ of gangs, crime, and drugs. But each small
erage or programming should be more step can help, especially when it is part of a
responsible, express your concerns as broader, long-term strategy to turn things
a group. Meet with editors and re­ around. Remember that not every program


or approach that sounds good really does services, the Institute serves youth and
good. Collect information about what has family members released from prison
been done in similar communities around the and brings college and community
country. Ask questions about why various college instructors into the community.
approaches were successful and others were ¤ Provide Structured, Safe Activi­
not. (For example, was the idea off base, or ties When School Is Out. Com­
was it a good idea that was poorly exe­ munities throughout the country are
cuted?) Contact the National Youth Gang expanding the use of schools during
Center and other resources. (See Refer­ non-school hours through Safe Havens
ences.) In this section, we will suggest briefly programs. Activities include sports,
some approaches that may help meet your tutoring, recreational activities, parent
community’s needs. education, and many others. Training
to get Safe Haven programs off the
Tip: Local college or university ground is available to all cities with
students may be eager to help. In Weed and Seed projects. Another ex­
Racine, Wisconsin, a student re­
search team at the University of
ample is Urban Art, Ink. This after­
Wisconsin, Parkside, Department of school arts program operates at Jef­
Sociology, talked to 500 Racine ferson High in Denver, Colorado. The
residents, including gang members, neighborhood is a Comprehensive
community leaders, police, media
representatives, and others. The
Gangs Initiative target area. Midnight
students’ report helped Racine get Basketball is a well-known example of
grants for two youth service proj- how one person can begin to make a
ects related to gangs. difference. Started by G. Van
Standeford of Glen Arden, Maryland,
¤ Provide Direct Services to Gang- it is now a national organization based
Involved Youth. Helping gang­ in Oakland, California, and operates
involved youth who have already programs in 42 cities. Geared to
committed violent or serious crimes is youth ages 17-25, Midnight Basket­
the focus of Project Comin’ Up in ball not only offers a safe place to play
Fort Worth, Texas, a partnership in­ the game at night, but also includes
volving the Boys and Girls Club, Tar­ AIDS education, drug programs, ca­
rant County Citizen’s Crime Commis­ reer information, job training, and
sion, and Parks and Community other services. FORCE (Females
Services. Project Comin’ Up identi­ Obtaining Resources for Cultural En­
fies the most violent gangs and aims richment) is sponsored by the Boston,
services at individual gang members, Massachusetts, Housing Authority. In
with the objective of reducing violent seeking to address kids’ needs for ac­
behavior. Another example is the ceptance, loyalty, and a feeling of fam­
University of Connecticut Institute for ily, FORCE offers sports, debate
Violence Reduction. In addition to teams, and other activities. Gangs to
providing direct conflict mediation Clubs in Providence, Rhode Island,


provides alternatives to gangs for Grace Hill Neighborhood Services in

Southeast Asian youth. Program per­ St. Louis, Missouri. The federal Of­
sonnel use older youth to work with fice of Juvenile Justice and Delin­
younger ones and emphasize listening quency Prevention (OJJDP) is cur­
to the youth and making them part of rently sponsoring JUMP, an evaluation
the solution. of mentoring programs.
¤ Provide Rites of Passage. One of ¤ Offer Gang Resistance Curricula
the best known examples here is the in the Schools. One example is the
House of Umoja, which stresses “the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education
importance of traditional cultural and Training) program. GREAT was
norms of the African-American com­ developed in 1991 by the Phoenix Po­
munity and instills African-American lice Department and the federal Bu­
youths with the life skills necessary to reau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire­
halt self-destructive behavior.” House arms (ATF), and is now in place in
of Umoja, begun by just one family, is many schools throughout the country.
now a community-based residential Similar to DARE (Drug Abuse Resis­
treatment and educational program tance Education), GREAT offers nine
that occupies 23 row houses in Phila­ weekly lessons delivered by police of­
delphia. But meaningful, age­ ficers in the schools, usually at the 7th
appropriate rites-of-passage programs grade level.
can be developed on a much smaller
scale through the efforts of churches,
community-based organizations, Putting It All Together
schools, parent groups, or individual The Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in Kansas
residents. In addition, some commu­ City, Missouri, has a long history of commu­
nities bring together Hispanic and Afri- nity activism to combat drugs, gangs, and
can-American youth to talk about violent crime through a combination of coop­
cultural differences and similarities. eration with law enforcement and, more re­
¤ Offer One-on-One Guidance. Or­ cently, the development of alternatives for
ganizations like Big Brothers and Big youth. Ad Hoc was formed in 1977 when
Sisters, Concerned Black Men, concerned black leaders and residents or­
church and religious groups, police ganized a meeting to discuss the recent mur­
youth services programs, colleges, ders of nine black women. This was a con­
sorority and fraternity alumni groups, frontational meeting, and hundreds of
and many others match youth with re­ residents showed up to express their anger
sponsible, caring adults for one-on- and fear.
one friendship, guidance, and oppor­
It was from this meeting that the grass roots,
tunities for new experiences. Program
volunteer-driven Ad Hoc Group Against
examples for gang-involved girls in­
Crime was formed. Since that time, Ad Hoc
clude those operated by Pueblo,
has worked on four main objectives:
Colorado, Youth Services and by


¤ raising community awareness about tice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delin­
crime and violence quency Prevention. 800-851-3420.
¤ improving relationships between the Curry, G. David. (1995). Responding to
black community and the police de­ Gang-related Crime and Delinquency: A
partment Review of the Literature. Washington:
¤ maintaining a 24-hour Secret Witness U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute
Hotline to enable residents to report of Justice. 800-851-3420.
crimes anonymously
¤ forming a community reward fund to Esbensen, Finn-Aage. (September 1996).
offer rewards for crime tips that lead “Gang Resistance Education and Training:
to arrest The National Evaluation.” The Police Chief.
Alexandria, Virginia: International Association
The proliferation of crack cocaine in the of Chiefs of Police. 703-836-6767.
1980s brought a new emphasis on combating
drugs and gangs. Ad Hoc organized “anti­ Finn, Peter, and K. M. Healey. (November
dope house” marches, conducted court 1996). Preventing Gang- and Drug-
watches, commissioned reports on black Related Witness Intimidation. Washington:
homicides and other issues, and formed a U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute
rape victims’ task force. of Justice. 800-851-3420.

In the early 1990s, Ad Hoc raised the money Gangs: A Community Response. (Septem­
to hire a small staff. In addition to continuing ber 1994). Sacramento, California: Crime
its direct-action, crime-fighting objectives, Ad and Violence Prevention Center, California
Hoc has added several programs for youth, Attorney General’s Office. 916-324-7863.
including Youth and Gang Services, which Howell, James C. (1997). Youth Gang
operates a 24-hour youth helpline; Project Violence Prevention and Intervention:
Redirect, which includes gang awareness, What Works. Report prepared for the U.S.
violence reduction training, AIDS awareness, Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Jus­
and other components; Project Intercept, tice and Delinquency Prevention. Tallahas­
which targets middle school youth at high risk see, Florida: National Youth Gang Center.
for gang involvement and low school 904-385-0600.
achievement; and other programs and serv­
Huff, Ronald (ed.). (1990). Gangs in
ices directed at ex-offenders.
America. Newbury Park, California: Sage

References Institute for Law and Justice. (1997). Ur­

ban Street Gang Enforcement. Washing­
Publications ton: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of
Justice Assistance. 800-688-4252.
“Curfew: An Answer to Juvenile Delinquency
and Victimization?” Juvenile Justice Bulle­ Juvenile Curfew Enforcement: Concepts
tin. (April 1996). U.S. Department of Jus­ and Issues Paper. (May 1994). Alexandria,
Virginia: International Association of Chiefs of


Police (IACP) National Law Enforcement 919-571-4954 or 800-299-6054

Policy Center. 703-836-6767. Comprehensive information on school re­
source officer programs.
Gangs...Turning the Corner. This video, Office of Community Oriented Policing Serv­
narrated by James Earl Jones, comes in 60­ ices (COPS Office)
minute and 30-minute versions and highlights Office of Justice Programs
anti-gang efforts throughout the country, with U.S. Department of Justice
an emphasis on prevention and what commu- 1100 Vermont Ave., N.W.
nity-based groups can do. Available from Washington, DC 20530
California Image Marketing, Rancho Cor­ 202-514-2058
dova, CA. 916-638-8383.
COPS anti-gang initiative training and techni­
Organizations cal assistance.
Ad Hoc Group Against Crime or call
3330 Troost Institute for Law and Justice
Kansas City, MO 64109 1018 Duke St.
816-531-0000 Alexandria, VA 22314 703-684-5300
Community mobilization against crime, drugs, Clearinghouse for special COPS gang proj­
and gangs; youth programs. ects.

Boys and Girls Clubs of America Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
771 1st Avenue Prevention (OJJDP)
New York, NY 10017 Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department
212-351-5911 of Justice
Gang prevention, recreation, enrichment, National Youth Gang Center
education, and other youth programs. P.O. Box 12729
Tallahassee, FL 32317
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office
904-385-0600, ext. 259 or 285
Martin Vranicar, Jr.
Assistant City Attorney
Clearinghouse for juvenile gang information.
1600 City Hall East
200 N. Main St.
Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Reverend Leon Kelly, Executive Director
1615 California St.
Civil abatement information.
Denver, CO 80202
North Carolina Center for the Prevention of
School Violence
Crisis intervention, mediation, gang preven­
Dr. Pamela L. Riley, Director
tion, and intervention services.
3824 Barrett Dr., Suite 303
Raleigh, NC 27609


Seattle Partners Against Youth Gun Violence

Options, Choices, Consequences Program
c/o Seattle Police Department
Crime Prevention Section
610 Third Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
School-based gun violence education pro­

U.S. Department of Health and Human

Family and Youth Services Bureau
National Clearinghouse on Families and
P.O. Box 13505
Silver Spring, MD 20911
Information on Youth Gang Drug Prevention
Program and other programs.

Youth Development, Inc.

Gang Intervention Program
1710 Centro Familiar, S.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87105
Ruben Chavez, Deputy Director

1 TheNational Drug Intelligence Center
(NDIC) Street Gang Symposium, Selected
Findings, April 12, 1995.


Chapter 7


I f graffiti is a problem in your neighbor­

hood, read this chapter to learn how it
can be eradicated. Many communities
have successfully attacked graffiti through di­
enforce the laws against graffiti by identifying
the individuals who commit these acts of van­
dalism, reporting graffiti crimes in progress,
and photographing and removing the graffiti.
rect community action and improved govern­ Community members must also help develop
ment responses. This chapter first discusses alternatives for youth who might otherwise be
types of graffiti, including graffiti vandalism by involved in graffiti crimes. Some neighbor­
gangs, taggers, hate groups, and others. It hoods have found that simply removing the
then offers graffiti-abatement strategies and graffiti—no matter how tirelessly—was not
tactics you can use to remove graffiti and enough. Graffiti was painted over, only to be
keep it out of your neighborhood. replaced by “scratchiti,” or window etching.
Because the etching is done on glass, rela­
tively inexpensive solutions like paint cannot
Analyzing the Problem be used. Alternatives like scratch-proof glass
Graffiti is the unauthorized painting (and, more are only now becoming available.
recently, window etching) of private or public
property that vandalizes roadsides, mass tran­ Gang Graffiti
sit, commercial districts, and residential areas. Graffiti may be a signal that gangs are oper­
Graffiti affects neighborhoods in many ways. ating in the area. Gangs use graffiti to identify
It sends a clear message to visitors and resi­ their “turf,” warn other gangs to stay out, and
dents alike that things are out of control. It communicate other messages. Gang graffiti
can reduce property values, add to a climate markings might include the gang name, gang
of lawlessness that discourages business, and member nicknames, expressions of gang loy­
open the door to more serious crime. alty, symbols, threats, and information about
Despite graffiti’s pervasiveness in some crimes in which the gang has been involved.
neighborhoods, many police departments do When one gang’s graffiti has been crossed
not have time to investigate graffiti complaints. out by another gang, it may indicate accep­
Community mobilization is critical to make tance of a challenge and the likelihood of fu­
graffiti-fighting a priority and to help police ture violence. Also, the graffiti’s style (block


letters, “balloon” letters, etc.) may give an in­ on taggers. (See references at end of this
dication of the type of gangs involved. Some chapter.)
gangs have members who specialize in writing
the graffiti, which has also been characterized Taking Inventory
as a “newspaper” for some gangs. Gang Although quick removal (after documenting
graffiti may also appear on clothing, note­ the problem) is the number one objective for
books, and interior walls. all graffiti abatement efforts, the details in­
volved in planning your response will depend
Tagger and Other Graffiti on the type of graffiti with which you are
Not all graffiti is written by gang members. dealing. For example, if the graffiti is pro­
Drug dealers also may use it to tell users duced by gang members and contains recent
where they can buy drugs. It may have big­ “cross outs” or threats, the police will need to
otry at its core, containing hate messages di­ know about it and document it. Here are
rected at other races, religions, or genders. some steps you can take to help you analyze
Some graffiti may be expressions of profanity, the problem:
some communicates political opinions, and ¤ Take photographs of marked build­
some (“Tom loves Mary”) may be classified ings, walls, etc.
as “bubble gum” graffiti. ¤ Learn to recognize basic gang graffiti
But perhaps more commonly, graffiti comes styles and messages. Consult with
from “taggers” who “sign” their work with a appropriate police officials (gang spe­
unique name or moniker. Taggers generally cialists, hate crime unit, juvenile offi­
seek to impress their peers with how often cers, community policing officers)
their graffiti may be seen or by the difficulties about how to interpret unfamiliar sym­
they had to overcome to paint it. Taggers bols and markings.
may also be thrill seekers, excited by the dan­ ¤ Determine the extent and type of graf­
gers involved in eluding the law or by the fiti problems in and around the
danger of placing graffiti in high places. Tag­ schools. You may also identify stu­
gers may act alone or they may belong to tag­ dent groups that can help with school
ger “crews” or gangs whose main activity is and neighborhood graffiti removal.
creating graffiti. ¤ Check with other agencies involved in
graffiti abatement. In some jurisdic­
Tagger graffiti ranges from short messages to
tions, a neighborhood services or
mural-sized drawings, known as “pieces,”
similar office of local government has
and some taggers have been known to keep
been designated as the graffiti abate­
notebooks of their work. While tagging is
ment coordinator (for example, the
usually thought of as a nonviolent crime, some
Neighborhood Services Department in
communities have found taggers armed with
Sacramento, CA, and the Public Re­
knives and guns, not just spray paint. The
sponse Office in Clark County (Las
Portland Police Bureau, East Precinct Neigh­
Vegas), NV).
borhood Response Team, has put together a
detailed guidebook for officers and residents


¤ Learn about techniques for removing ¤ Hold a Neighborhood Meeting.

graffiti from different types of surfaces This can be sponsored by a civic or
(red brick, stucco, glass, etc.) tenants’ association, community-based
service organization, or other neigh­
borhood group. If necessary, you can
Strategies and Tactics go door to door to begin organizing
The principle behind fighting graffiti is to re­ the neighbors. You many want to in­
duce the rewards (recognition, control) that vite a law enforcement expert to talk
graffiti criminals get from their crimes. Graffiti about graffiti, but the focus of the
abatement—quickly removing the graffiti and meeting should be on the prevalence
keeping it off—reduces these rewards. Suc­ of graffiti in the neighborhood, its im­
cessful graffiti abatement involves both the pact on the community’s feelings of
community and local government. safety, and its economic impacts. Be
prepared to display pictures of prop­
These are the strategies discussed in this
erties marked with graffiti and note
their specific locations on the back of
¤ Take direct action to remove graffiti. the photos and on a map or list. Maps
¤ Hold graffiti vandals accountable. will also be useful for volunteers on the
¤ Encourage government policies and day of the paint-over.
ordinances. ¤ Organize the Community as a
¤ Link with other community improve­ Whole. It does little good when some
ment projects. properties cover up graffiti while adja­
¤ Divert graffiti criminals to positive al­ cent property remains vandalized.
ternatives. Contact any other community-based
groups that may be interested in graffiti
Strategy 1. Take Direct Action to removal.
Remove Graffiti ¤ Educate Your Neighbors. Talk to
Direct community action involves organizing neighborhood residents and businesses
volunteer groups to coordinate with law en­ about graffiti, what it means, and what
forcement and then actually paint over or oth­ can be done about it. Use fliers, per­
erwise remove graffiti without waiting for sonal visits, phone calls—whatever it
government to act. The neighborhood sends takes.
the clearest message when it develops the ca­ ¤ Adopt a Uniform Paint Scheme.
pacity to respond quickly to reports of graffiti. Use it when painting over graffiti to
Even where the graffiti cannot be quickly re­ avoid clashes. Have volunteers meet
moved, citizens can record or photograph with business owners not represented
and then paint over the names of the graffiti at the meeting. Find out if your local
criminals, thus depriving them of the publicity government supplies paint in standard
they seek. These tactics have proven suc­ colors for this purpose. Seek dona­
cessful in many communities: tions of paint from local businesses.


¤ Discuss Your Plans with the Po­ photographs of each site for the
lice. In neighborhoods where the volunteers to use.
graffiti was done by violent gangs, you - Use other volunteers to circulate,
may need to arrange for police pro­ supervise the painting crews, and
tection for the paint-out. replenish supplies.
¤ Obtain Consent Forms. Property - If possible, take new pictures for
owners should provide you with a display of “before and after.”
signed forms that give you permission ¤ Debrief and Get Ready Again.
to paint over graffiti on their properties After the paint-out, hold a second
according to the agreed-upon color meeting to debrief, thank the volun­
scheme. teers, and plan for future efforts. Re­
¤ Take Care of Details. Paint-outs solve to paint over future graffiti. As­
are not complicated, but attention to sign responsibility for reporting and
details is important. Use a checklist to recording graffiti and for organizing
plan ahead and keep things running new paint-outs. Property owners can
smoothly. tell their maintenance staff to check
- Obtain supplies such as paint, every morning to see if there is graffiti
rollers, brushes, paint trays, safety on their walls and immediately paint it
equipment, drop cloths, etc. (See over.
checklist at the end of this chap­
ter.) These may be donated by
Tip: Many removal products are
businesses or community groups hazardous to personal health and
or paid for by the volunteers. to the environment. Always wear
- Set a time and date for painting appropriate safety gear, including
over existing graffiti that does not clothing, masks, breathing equip­
ment, and eye protection. Follow
conflict with any other community the instructions on all cleaning
events. (Early on Saturday products. Properly dispose of haz­
morning has proved to be a good ardous materials.
time for many communities.)
- Distribute a flier to the affected Strategy 2. Hold Graffiti Vandals
neighborhoods informing resi­ Accountable
dents and businesses of the paint­
All actions of the community group should be
coordinated with local law enforcement to
- Choose an assembly location that
help ensure that graffiti vandals are held ac­
allows you to distribute supplies
countable or prosecuted.
and park cars (for example, a
church or business parking lot). ¤ Take Pictures. Give copies of all
- Assign volunteers to specific tar­ pictures of graffiti to the police along
get locations and give them the with documentation of when and
materials needed to paint over the where the pictures were taken.
graffiti. Try to have maps and


¤ Report Vandals. Notify police of ¤ Anti-Graffiti “Czar.” The mayor of

the vandals’ identify. A number of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, appointed
communities have established confi­ an anti-graffiti “czar” to coordinate
dential, 24-hour graffiti reporting or tip graffiti removal and keep attention fo­
lines. The Sacramento, California, cused on the problem.
Neighborhood Services Department ¤ Graffiti-Free Zones. Push for a lo­
has a graffiti report form on its Internet cal government promise to remove
World Wide Web page that can by graffiti in these zones within 24 hours
completed and sent electronically by of notification.
residents. ¤ Overnight Graffiti Removal from
¤ Hold Youth and Parents Ac­ Subways and Buses. The New
countable. Youth who commit York City Transit Authority imple­
graffiti crimes may be required to paint mented a policy of overnight graffiti
over the graffiti, pay for its cleanup, or removal.
perform other neighborhood beautifi­ ¤ Local Spray Paint Ordinances.
cation and community service tasks. Restrict the sale of aerosol paint cans
They may make amends through in­ to minors (who use them for graffiti).
formal arrangements with residents, or ¤ Property Owners’ Accountabil­
as part of a police or juvenile court di­ ity. Pass local ordinances to require
version program, a condition of pro­ owners of vacant property to clean up
bation, an outcome of a community­ graffiti.
based mediation process, or a school ¤ Parent Accountability. Pass an
disciplinary action. ordinance to hold parents responsible
Graffiti abatement can also be more for the cost of cleaning up graffiti done
meaningful when the parents of youth by their children. Encourage prose­
responsible for the graffiti help to re­ cutor policies to inform parents of their
move it. In some communities, Moth­ responsibilities. The anti-graffiti policy
ers Against Gangs and similar groups of the Maricopa County (Phoenix,
of parents and neighbors take the lead Arizona) District Attorney, for exam­
in organizing paint-outs. ple, includes notifying parents that they
may be liable for up to $10,000 for
Strategy 3. Encourage Government the “malicious acts” of their children.
Policies and Ordinances ¤ “Graffiti Court.” Centralize and ex­
Local government responses to graffiti include pedite prosecution of persons charged
policies, ordinances, and the like, along with with graffiti crime by setting up a spe­
direct assistance to neighborhoods, such as cial graffiti court.
helping coordinate paint-outs, providing ma­ ¤ Police Action. Get police to in­
terials, operating graffiti report lines, handling crease patrols and devote more re­
graffiti removal on public buildings, and pro­ sources to surveillance of youth sus­
viding other services. Here are some tactics pected of committing graffiti crimes.
that are getting results:


Strategy 4. Link with Other Habitat for Humanity to erect new

Community Improvement Projects homes in areas where abandoned,
Many communities combine graffiti abatement graffiti-filled buildings existed.
with larger cleanup efforts directed at broken ¤ Join with Neighborhood Anti-
windows, abandoned cars, vacant lots, and Crime and Anti-Gang Initiatives.
vacant houses. Here are some examples. In St. Louis, for example, the North­
side Neighborhood Action Associa­
¤ Work with Public Housing. Public tion sponsors both neighborhood
housing authorities in Chicago, San crime patrols and a graffiti-removal
Francisco, and many other cities have program. In Houston, the anti-graffiti
been working to improve living condi­ community mobilization effort is led by
tions by removing abandoned autos, the mayor’s Anti-Gang Office.
pulling weeds, removing graffiti, and ¤ Work with the Courts. Encourage
repairing apartments. the courts to make graffiti removal part
¤ Set Up a Beautification Fund. In of community service and restitution
1991, Proposition D was passed in sentences. Working with courts and
San Francisco to fund neighborhood prosecutors is explained in Chapter
cleanup. It has resulted in a reported 10, including how community courts
580 trees planted, 600 square blocks include a community service compo­
cleaned of litter and graffiti, 130 trash nent where convicted offenders may
receptacles placed on city streets, and be required to remove graffiti from
24 new murals. Money is raised by neighborhoods.
businesses checking on their tax re­
turns that 1 percent should go to the Strategy 5. Divert Graffiti Criminals
beautification fund. to Positive Alternatives
¤ Conduct Targeted “Clean Community action is also needed to develop
Sweeps.” During the summer of positive alternatives to graffiti. Community
1996, Kansas City crews focused on service and restitution are among the most
10 neighborhood areas for a special common sanctions for graffiti criminals who
“Clean Sweep” effort that involved are apprehended. Residents, business own­
cleaning vacant lots, illegal dumps, and ers, and service agencies in the neighborhood
catch basins; sweeping streets; paint­ can help by seeing that these sanctions are
ing hydrants; towing abandoned autos; carried out and supervised.
hauling off old tires; and removing
graffiti. Part of the program called for ¤ Work with the Schools. Support
neighborhood groups to mobilize area student-led cleanup and graffiti re­
residents and organize volunteers to moval efforts. Supervise students as­
help city employees. In Detroit, the signed to remove graffiti as part of
“Motor City Blight Busters” mobilize school disciplinary actions.
volunteers for citywide cleanups, in­ ¤ Consider an Urban Art or Murals
cluding graffiti removal. The program Projects. Graffiti abatement initia­
has gone beyond cleanup to join tives emphasize that graffiti is vandal­


ism, not art, but some community graffiti sites to cover up the graffiti with spe­
groups have sought to channel the ar­ cial paint that covers graffiti easily. Funds for
tistic creativity of some graffiti vandals the special graffiti removal work team come
into positive pursuits. In Seattle, for from drug forfeiture funds.
example, the South of the Dome Busi­ The graffiti removal team fully documents its
ness Association is complementing its work. Key descriptors of each graffiti inci­
paint-over abatement efforts by creat­ dent are recorded, and sites are photo­
ing an “Urban Art Corridor” which will graphed for future prosecution. Property
feature 50 murals painted by former owners complete a form granting permission
graffiti vandals. The program hopes to for the work team to remove graffiti from their
commission professional artists to property. Records are kept of the time spent
work as mentors with the youth, and to remove the graffiti at each site and the cost
landscaping in the area will be de­ incurred, so that restitution orders may be
signed and cared for by youth groups. sought. Citizens are a key element of this
Other cities with successful mural program, which cannot work unless citizen
projects include Philadelphia and San reports of graffiti are made as soon as the
Antonio. Not all mural projects suc­ graffiti appears.
ceed, however. The most successful
ones emphasize adult supervision and In Scottsdale, Arizona, police and community
links to other youth-serving programs. cooperation was critical for establishing a 48­
¤ Encourage Youth Education. A hour graffiti-abatement program. Local paint
few jurisdictions have undertaken edu­ merchants donated paint for an experiment to
cational programs directed at pre­ test whether painting over graffiti would be
venting children from committing graf­ successful and were pleased that it was.
fiti crimes. These efforts typically Based on this winning experience, a neigh­
involve adding an anti-graffiti message borhood enhancement committee convinced
to other educational programs like the city council to fund a special position to
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Edu­ oversee graffiti removal. Much of the equip­
cation) and to environmental protec­ ment used by the city staff, including a truck
tion programs (aerosol adds to ozone and paint sprayer, was donated by local mer­
depletion). chants, who continue to donate paint. The
city council also funded a 24-hour hot line for
reporting graffiti. A second hot line provides
Putting It All Together rewards to callers who can identify people
The City of West Palm Beach, Florida, has who commit specific graffiti crimes.
developed a graffiti eradication program that Scottsdale also has a voluntary program en­
seeks to remove all graffiti within 48 hours of couraging merchants to lock up aerosol spray
notification. Countywide graffiti hot lines op­ paint to prevent its being stolen by graffiti
erated by the sheriff have been established to criminals.
facilitate reporting. City painters, including
offender work details, are sent to reported


Graffiti Abatement Tools

¤ Aerosol solvent National Council to Prevent Delinquency
¤ Clean cotton painters’ rags Anti-Graffiti Project
¤ Trash bags P.O. Box 16675, Dept. NPCA
¤ 10-gallon plastic buckets with lids Alexandria, VA 22301-8675
¤ Inexpensive paint brushes, rollers, 703-751-9569
trays, and paint containers
¤ No-lead paint that matches paint sur­ National Graffiti Information Network
faces around neighborhood P.O. Box 400
¤ Paint scrapers, wire brushes Hurricane, UT 84636
¤ Dust masks 801-635-0646
¤ Safety glasses Information on graffiti removal, state legisla­
¤ Kitchen cleaner and water in spray tion, and local ordinances.

¤ Federal safety orange vests

Scottsdale (Arizona) Police Department
Gang and Youth Intervention Unit
Detective Frank O’Halloran or Sergeant
References Mark Clark
Publications e-mail
Community Graffiti Guide. Portland Police
Bureau, East Precinct Neighborhood Re­ Graffiti removal project.
sponse Team. Contact Lt. Gerry Nyberg,
4735 East Burnside St., Portland, OR T.A.G.N.E.T. (Tagger and Graffiti Network
97215. 503-823-5071. Enforcement Team)
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department
Saint Paul Resident Handbook: Neighbor­
Safe Streets Bureau
hood Nuisances. This complete citizen’s
3010 East Victoria St.
guide to abating all types of nuisances is avail­
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221
able on the Internet at
310-603-3100 Provides intelligence information on taggers
ml and graffiti to local law enforcement, in­
or from the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, Citi­ cluding transit and school police.
zens Service Office. 612-266-8989.
West Palm Beach Police Department
Organizations Community Response Division
Anti-Graffiti Web Page 600 Banyan Blvd. West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Pleasant Hill, CA, community anti-graffiti ef­ 407-653-3584, fax 407-653-2806
forts, extensive links to other anti-graffiti Lt. R. A. Van Reeth
Web sites, and references. Graffiti removal project.


Chapter 8

Street Prostitution

and quiet of residential areas, propositioning

T his chapter is about street prostitution

and techniques for fighting some of the
problems it brings. Prostitution, often
referred to as the “world’s oldest profession,”
disinterested persons, harassment (sometimes
physical) of visitors and residents, soliciting
adolescents, sexual activity in public or semi­
public view (such as in automobiles), litter,
is a continuing problem for cities across the and disrupting traffic.
United States. Prostitution comes in many Street prostitutes, and those with whom they
forms and in many locations. associate, are also often involved in a variety
Street prostitution, as the term suggests, re­ of other illegal and community-destructive ac­
fers to instances where the prostitutes use the tivities, such as drug use and dealing, forgery,
streets of the city as their base of operations, credit card fraud, embezzlement, auto theft,
soliciting passing motorists and pedestrians or burglary, and robbery.
loitering on the streets until they are tele­ Prostitution also presents a serious public
phoned, paged, or otherwise contacted by health problem. There are few if any circum­
prospective clients. This type of prostitu- stances more conducive to the spread of HIV
tion—and the collateral problems that ac­ and other sexually transmitted diseases than
company it—is the most familiar to the public anonymous sex with street prostitutes, most
and the most damaging to the quality of urban of whom are in the business to support their
life, particularly to residents of affected neigh­ drug addiction. Efforts to combat prostitution
borhoods. often fail to adequately address its link to ad­
In areas where there is an active prostitution
Analyzing the Problem
market, parents hesitate to send their children
Street prostitution produces community harms to the library or to visit friends, people take
far beyond the notion that prostitution is a fewer walks, visits to neighbors occur only
corruption of the public morals. Street pros­ during the day, stores lose business and are
titution markets can produce many problems sometimes forced to close, and traffic be­
for the communities where they operate.
These problems include disturbing the peace


comes congested. In short, community life is learn of the area, and more customers means
hindered. still more prostitutes. Over time, the market
may expand from its original location to en­
Street prostitution and the problems that so
croach on surrounding streets and neighbor­
often accompany it are not easily eradicated
because they have usually been entrenched in
an area for years. Customers and prostitutes
keep coming back because of the neighbor-
hood’s reputation as a market. In addition, Strategies and Tactics
police, judges, and other city officials often Neighborhood groups and their supporters
view the problem as a consensual transaction can use three basic strategies to fight the es­
between people who have been victimized by tablishment, maintenance, or growth of street
life. They are thus inclined to assign a low prostitution markets:
priority to prostitution cases and fail to recog­
¤ Communicate community disapproval
nize the value to a community of shutting
of street prostitution.
down prostitution markets. But with tenacity
¤ Limit access to prostitution markets.
and a broad-based effort, prostitution mar­
¤ Eliminate the sense of impunity of
kets can be shut down.
prostitutes and their patrons.
In the face of aggressive community action, If you’ve read Chapter 2, these strategies will
most street prostitutes, looking for paths of sound very familiar. The reason is that the
lesser resistance, are likely to quickly move to tactics for combating street drug markets and
more “hospitable” locations. In other words, street prostitution markets are fundamentally
prostitution markets exist where they are tol­ the same. In fact, the two types of illicit mar­
erated. kets frequently occupy the same place at the
Prostitution markets are not rigidly organized. same time; consult Chapter 2 for additional
Rather, they are somewhat fluid in their information.
structure, with regular turnover and a variety
Tip: Remember, the prostitute’s cus­
of business arrangements. Some prostitutes tomers value their privacy even
work independently, others work in small more than drug users. Slightly in­
groups associated with men with whom they creasing the risk of public exposure
are involved romantically, and still others will deter many johns.
work for professional “pimps” who manage
groups of women in a fairly bureaucratic way, Strategy 1. Communicate
providing protection, management, and su­ Community Disapproval
pervision. All of these modes of prostitution
Driving prostitutes out of a neighborhood
management can exist in a prostitution market
permanently requires more than an occasional
at the same time. The markets themselves
police raid. When tactics are carried out ex­
spring up in neighborhoods on an ad hoc ba­
clusively by law enforcement (arrests and
sis and then become established by word of
“sweeps”), the prostitutes often return as
mouth. The longer a market operates, the
soon as they are released by the police. To
more well known it becomes. More patrons
prevent this from happening, the community


needs to send a strong message of disap­ ously oppose street prostitution activ­
proval and intolerance for street prostitution. ity. Cleaning up the neighborhood
Visible action by the community helps to sends the opposite signal. Organized
demonstrate to prostitutes and their patrons community efforts should focus on
that opposition to prostitution is a constant, getting the city government to devote
not an occasional, concern. resources to cleanup projects, in addi­
tion to any private cleanups that are
Here are some possible actions to demon­
strate community intolerance of street prosti­
¤ Outreach. Residents and visitors to
tution markets:
the area implicitly condone street
¤ Neighborhood Patrols. Use or­ prostitution when they keep silent.
ganized citizens’ groups to shadow the The pressure on prostitutes to move,
movements of prostitutes and their close down operations, or, ideally,
patrons, writing down their license seek help is increased when people
plate numbers and photographing their speak up. Expressing to those in­
activities. This will decrease demand volved in prostitution your concern for
for the prostitutes’ services because their health and well-being, offering
the prospective patrons wish, quite real alternatives to life on the streets,
understandably, to remain anonymous. and objecting to the effects of the ac­
To be effective, neighborhood patrols tivity on the neighborhood can be
must be highly visible and must signal more effective than you might think.
that they are willing to take concrete One woman in Kansas City, Mis­
action to get rid of prostitution. souri, was able to have a dramatic im­
¤ Signs. Post signs and banners that pact in her neighborhood using this
warn prostitutes and their customers approach, convincing many prostitutes
that citizens are watching and reporting to leave not just the neighborhood but
prostitution activity to police. Signs the business. There were three keys
warning about the dangers of AIDS to her success. First, she broke the
and other sexually transmitted diseases shell of anonymity by addressing the
might also drive down market “de­ prostitutes by their real names (which
mand.” she learned from the police, as most
¤ Community Cleanups. Organizing prostitutes use “street names” while
community cleanups, installing new working). Second, she was able to
street lights, towing away abandoned communicate to them her genuine love
cars, and sweeping litter off the street and concern. Finally, she directed in­
makes it hard for prostitutes to oper­ terested prostitutes to appropriate
ate. Street prostitution markets often service agencies in the community
arise in areas that appear disorderly. where they could get the help they
Areas that are not well maintained are needed. Community health organiza­
an indication that residents are unor­ tions, hospitals, drug treatment facili­
ganized and will be unlikely to strenu­ ties, and medical schools often operate


community outreach programs and can Actions that may be effective in eliminating
be very helpful in your own efforts. that sense of impunity are described below:
¤ Closing Problem Businesses. ¤ Postcard Warnings. Postcards can
Closing bars, restaurants, and other be mailed to the owners of cars seen
businesses that turn a blind eye to cruising in the vicinity of prostitution
prostitution on or near their premises markets. Through the local division of
can make a dramatic difference. motor vehicles, police can trace the li­
Community groups should first seek to cense plate numbers collected by citi­
work with the business owners on zen patrols and send notices to the ve­
steps that make the neighborhood less hicle owners “warning” them that to
hospitable to prostitution. If the busi­ frequent the area at certain hours is a
nesses are uncooperative, protests and dangerous health risk, or more em­
picketing to inform patrons of the phatically, that anyone caught soliciting
owner’s unwillingness to combat pros­ prostitutes could have their names re­
titution may be beneficial. If these ac­ leased to the press.
tions are unsuccessful, the neighbor­ ¤ Loitering Ordinances. Some cities
hood can turn to lawsuits alleging that have enacted prostitution-related loi­
these establishments have become tering ordinances to prevent prostitutes
neighborhood nuisances. Liquor and from remaining in a given area for an
business licenses can also be chal­ extended length of time or prohibiting
lenged. them from flagging down cars. The
purpose of such ordinances is to em­
Strategy 2. Remove the Sense of
Impunity power police to disperse, under pen­
alty of arrest, people congregating in a
While street prostitution is a problem in cities
manner suggestive of street prostitution
across the United States, it is most serious in
activity, thus significantly reducing the
neighborhoods where a combination of inef­
police resources required to disrupt
fective law enforcement and a sense of com­
prostitution markets. These ordinances
munity powerlessness combine to give pros­
generally detail specific activities asso­
titutes and their patrons a belief that they can
ciated with the solicitation of prostitu­
engage in prostitution with near impunity.
Removing the community’s sense of power­
¤ Police Foot Patrols. Increase po­
lessness is essential to driving entrenched
lice foot patrols in areas where prosti­
prostitution markets out of residential neigh­
tution markets are known to exist.
This increases police visibility in the
area and allows the officers more op­
Tip: Police may have become frus­
trated in previous attempts to en­ portunity to get to know the prosti­
force prostitution laws. You must tutes. In addition, police officers
let them know that this is a high walking the streets of a prostitution
priority for the community in order
district are likely to give pause to any
to re-energize them.
potential client.


¤ Car Seizures. Forfeiture of vehicles ¤ Court Watch. To send a clear mes­

used to solicit prostitutes is one of the sage to judges who are reluctant to
most powerful “demand-side” tools in use such measures, community groups
the fight against prostitution. Potential can follow arrested offenders to court
patrons will think twice before engag­ for their arraignment, packing the
ing the services of a prostitute once courtroom. (For additional informa­
they are on notice that their automobile tion, refer to Chapter 10, “Working
is subject to forfeiture if they are with Courts and Prosecutors.”)
caught. Few “johns,” after all, want to
explain to their spouse, friends, or co­ Strategy 3. Limit Access to
workers why they came home without Marketing Space
the family van. In Detroit, allowing Prostitution markets also need access to
first-time offenders to retrieve their ve­ space in order to operate effectively. By de­
hicles after a day by paying a civil fine nying prostitutes and their customers easy ac­
has worked just as effectively as—but cess to one another, it is possible to hamper
much more cheaply than—typical sei­ the effectiveness of the market, thereby limit­
zure programs that require an appeal ing the profitability of prostitution efforts in the
hearing to retrieve one’s car. neighborhood.
¤ Driver’s License Revocation.
Enact and enforce “use it and lose it” Tip: To limit access, you may have
to reach out to other government
laws to revoke the driver’s licenses of
agencies besides the police. Ask
persons who are convicted of patron­ the police to find out for you who to
izing prostitutes. Such a penalty helps contact at the appropriate agen­
raise the price that a prospective pa­ cies.
tron has to pay to engage in the act.
¤ Drug Court. If there is a drug court ¤ Changing Traffic Patterns.
in your community, it should be given Modify traffic regulations to prohibit
jurisdiction over prostitution offenses, right turns in the areas where street
due to the prevalence of drug use and prostitution exists. This keeps pro­
addiction on the part of such offend­ spective customers from circling the
ers. block to find a prostitute.
¤ Drug Testing and Abstinence in ¤ Establishing an Automobile
Sentencing. Judges should impose Cruising Ordinance. Enact an or­
mandatory drug testing and coerced dinance against automobile cruising in
abstinence as a condition of avoiding prostitution zones. Cruising ordi­
jail time. nances typically prohibit drivers from
¤ Stay-Away Orders. Judges can passing a fixed point more than twice
also order arrested prostitutes and in a two-hour period during specified
johns to stay away from specific pros­ hours.
titution market locations under penalty ¤ Eliminating Pay Phones. Reduce
of incarceration. or eliminate pay phones on public


streets to decrease opportunities for Miller, Eleanor M. Street Women. (1986).

prostitutes to communicate with their Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 215-
managers or customers by telephone. 204-7000 or 800-937-8000.
Installing pay telephones that do not Miller, Eleanor M. et al. Nanette J. Davis,
accept incoming calls is another op­ ed. (1989) Prostitution: An International
tion. This serves to impede communi­ Handbook on Trends, Problems, and Poli­
cation between the prostitute and his cies. Greenwood Press. 800-225-5800,
or her manager as well as potential 203-331-9899, or 415-989-5169.
“regular” clients.

Putting It All Together Wichita (Kansas) Police Department South
Residents in the New York City neighbor­ Central Prostitution Project
hood of Sunset Park were fed up with pros­ Captain Stephen Cole, Commander
titutes walking their streets late at night. They Wichita Police Department Patrol South Bu­
decided to fight back by reaching out to the reau
police department and city officials. Based 211 East Pawnee
on the citizens’ complaints, the police started Wichita, Kansas 67211
mailing letters to the prostitutes’ customers. 316-337-9200
The police got the addresses through their li­ Award-winning police/citizen effort to reduce
cense plate numbers. The letters informed the prostitution and related crime in the city’s
johns that those caught soliciting prostitutes South Central neighborhood.
could have their names released to the press
and could face potential prosecution.
The campaign of the Sunset Park citizens, and
the subsequent police crackdown, resulted in
more than 700 arrests and lengthier-than-
normal prison sentences for many of the
neighborhood’s prostitutes.

Comparative Criminal Law Project. (1979).
Prostitution: Regulation and Control.
New York: New York University. 212-998-
2575 or 800-996-6987.


Chapter 9

Working with the Police

munity’s primary defense and offense against

I f you feel that your community needs to

develop better working relationships with
the police, and if you want the police to
pay more attention to crime and disorder in
crime, police for many years have favored
law enforcement as their principal function.

Traditional Policing
your neighborhood, read this chapter. Over The philosophy and principles of community
the past 10 years, police agencies throughout policing evolved in response to the realization
the country have been working toward this that traditional law enforcement tactics alone
goal through community policing. Since so have not been enough to effectively reduce
many police agencies are adopting the ap­ crime and that the issues of disorder, fear of
proach, this chapter first reviews some basic crime, and quality of community life must be
community policing principles. The chapter addressed to maintain order. Community po­
then offers recommendations for working with licing stresses the need to develop the com-
the police by taking responsibility for the munity’s capacity to accept shared responsi­
problems in your neighborhood, understand­ bility as “co-producers” of public safety.
ing what your local police are doing to imple­
ment community policing, and collaborating Advocates of community policing, while em­
with the police to reduce disorder and other phasizing the need to keep what works, have
problems. become disenchanted with several traditional
policing tactics. Preventive patrol entails
motor patrol officers randomly patrolling
streets to act as a visible deterrent to crime
Analyzing the Problem
and to increase citizen satisfaction. Preven­
High-crime communities have become in­ tive patrol creates uncertainty about the fre­
creasingly dependent upon the police to exert quency and location of police in a community.
social control as the community’s bastion Rapid response assumes that the quicker an
against crime, disorder, and fear. Police have officer arrives at the scene of the crime, the
been characterized as the “thin blue line,” for­ better the chances of apprehending suspects,
tifying a community against predators and identifying witnesses, and preserving evi­
wrongdoers. To sustain this role as the com- dence. Retrospective investigation is the fol­


low-up investigation to a crime already com­ internal accountability, and professionalism,

mitted. Effective investigations depend on the and to reduce opportunities for corruption
ability to apprehend suspects quickly and the and abuse of power by limiting officer discre­
ability to gather and preserve corroborating tion, this approach has also served to sever
evidence. police ties with the community. As a result, it
has weakened the ability of the police to in­
Historically, most police departments have
tervene effectively with community problems.
given higher priority to law enforcement tac­
tics like preventive patrol, rapid response, The philosophy and principles of community
and investigations than to order maintenance policing evolved in response to the strategic
and service delivery. But research and expe­ shortcomings of traditional policing, as well as
rience have shown that these tactics have the realization that community disorder and
failed to significantly reduce crime because fear of crime must be addressed to effectively
they are limited to reacting to crimes that have maintain social order.
already taken place or to situations that have
already reached critical levels. Specifically, Community Policing
the following conclusions were found: Problem solving is one of the critical elements
Preventive Patrol. Random patrol does of community policing. The theory behind
not necessarily reduce or deter crime, disor­ police problem solving is simple. Underlying
der, or the fear of crime. Isolating officers in disorder and other conditions in a community
patrol cars and enslaving them to the radio create problems. A problem created by
has resulted in less dialogue between the po­ these conditions may generate one or more
lice and the community. incidents. These incidents may appear to be
different, but they stem from a common
Rapid Response. Rapid response seldom
source. For example, social and physical
increases the probability of making an arrest
conditions in a deteriorated apartment com­
or identifying a witness. Rapid response is
plex may generate burglaries, acts of vandal­
not as critical as previously believed because
ism, intimidation of pedestrians by rowdy
there is typically a delay before citizens call
teenagers, and other incidents. These inci­
the police.
dents, some of which come to police atten­
Retrospective Investigation. Criminal tion, are symptoms of the problems. The in­
investigations are not extremely effective. cidents will continue as long as the problems
Some studies show that only about one in five that create them persist.
reported crimes results in arrest. In many
Community policing also places a higher pri­
communities, only about one-fourth to one­
ority on crime control and order maintenance
third of all crimes, depending on the crime
than in the recent past. By controlling minor
type, are even reported to the police.
disorders and enhancing the community’s
The traditional policing approach, sometimes quality of life, it seeks to reduce fear of crime
called the “professional model,” is also char­ and ultimately disrupt the escalating cycle of
acterized by a hierarchical, paramilitary police community decay that generates serious
organization. Intended to improve efficiency, crime. Community policing emphasizes pre­


venting problems, separating symptoms from in the fullest sense of the word. Communica­
problems, and seeking long-term solutions. tion simply involves individuals or groups
sharing information, thoughts, ideas, and feel­
Community policing also emphasizes partner­
ings, and can result in a better understanding
ships with the community. Developing strong,
of different perspectives. Cooperation in­
self-sufficient communities is an essential step
volves informal relationships (for example,
in creating an atmosphere in which serious
agreements to “stay in touch,” or to make re­
crime will not flourish. Community policing,
ferrals), but there is no common structure or
therefore, attempts to cultivate a sense of
planning effort, and resources remain sepa­
community where there is little or none. Al­
rate. Coordination involves more formal re­
though community policing alone cannot be
lationships and an understanding of common
expected to revive communities, several of its
missions or goals. It also requires some joint
approaches are specifically geared to facilitate
planning and division of responsibilities. Fi­
the growth of self-reliant communities. In ad­
nally, collaboration can be defined as a mu­
dition to problem-solving, these approaches
tually beneficial and well-defined relationship
include community collaboration, community
entered into by two or more organizations to
engagement, and community mobilization.
achieve common goals. Each organization
Problem Solving. Through joint problem has separate responsibilities that are required
solving with community members, community to meet those goals.
policing attempts to reduce the social decay
True police-community collaboration will
and disorder that breed persistent crime
produce comprehensive strategies directed at
problems as well as fear of crime. As public
physical decay, disorder, and crime prob­
safety increases, citizens feel more confident
lems. The objective is to produce changes
about venturing out into their community and
that will result in stable neighborhoods over
interacting with others. This is the first step
the long term.
toward establishing relationships and building
a sense of community. As citizens become Community Engagement. Community
more informed about the status of crime in engagement is the process of stimulating
their neighborhood, learn how to protect community members to accept responsibility
themselves, and become actively involved in for and exercise control over their collective
crime control and prevention activities, they destiny as a community. To do this, police
become empowered to assume responsibility must provoke the interest and involvement of
for public safety. community members in improving the condi­
tion of their community, including physical de­
Community Collaboration. Under com­
cay, disorder, and crime.
munity policing, building police-community
partnerships (one of the core community po­ Effective community engagement requires the
licing principles) means developing collabora­ development of trust between the police and
tive relationships with individuals and organi­ the community. This is achieved through po­
zations. In fact, community policing involves lice interaction and meaningful dialogue with
establishing at least four types of relationships, the community’s formal leaders (church lead­
with a goal of working toward collaboration ers, school principal, business owners) and


informal leaders (community activists or equipped to solve their own or their commu-
popular residents). Police are encouraged to nity’s problems.
attend and participate in community meetings, Successful community policing is often the re­
events, and organizations; make personal sult of strong interagency partnerships. The
contacts with residents and businesses; and most effective community police officers are
conduct surveys to identify community needs those who have researched the availability of
and resources. these community resources and have estab­
Through direct contact with the police, citi­ lished a relationship with agency representa­
zens develop an increased appreciation for tives. For example, an officer who responds
police officers as trained professionals and as to a domestic dispute call might observe that
individuals. They may also develop an ap­ the husband accused of spousal abuse is
preciation for the police officers’ sense of drunk. Upon further investigation, the officer
personal commitment and concern for their might learn that there were many previous
community and its members. A department calls to this address and that each time, the
that encourages interaction with citizens gains husband reacted violently when inebriated.
a new perspective on the expectations, fears, Under the philosophy of community policing,
and interests of the community as customers an appropriate response to this situation might
of police services. Officers begin to recog­ involve the arrest or citation of the husband, a
nize that citizens do care about the police and referral to a local substance abuse agency for
the level of crime in the community. This type the husband, information to the wife about
of mutual understanding is the first step in de­ sources of outside support, and a recommen­
veloping trust between the police and the dation to the prosecution to seek a court or­
community. In turn, mutual trust is essential der for batterer and substance abuse treat­
for building effective partnerships. ment. The officer would continue to follow
Mobilizing Community Resources. up later with the couple and would check
Within every community are businesses, so­ calls for service and arrest records to assess
cial service agencies, religious organizations, their progress.
and civic agencies that are valuable resources
for dealing with community problems. The
community policing concept recognizes that Strategies and Tactics
when service providers work closely with the In developing an effective working relation­
community, they become more aware of the ship with the police, you can use three basic
underlying causes and extent of social prob­ strategies:
lems and can adjust accordingly to provide
¤ Take responsibility for disorder in your
new and better ways of delivering services.
In addition, through close cooperation, serv­
¤ Learn how the police are implementing
ice providers can identify any gaps or over­
community policing.
laps in human services and provide or coordi­
¤ Work with the police on a collabora­
nate the needed service. Citizens who are
tive strategy to reduce disorder.
aware of and use these services will be better


Strategy 1. Take Responsibility for partment because the role of traditional law
Disorder in Your Neighborhood enforcer is attractive. They typically don’t
Tolerance of crime is controlled by the com­ join to make friends with youth in high-crime
munity, not the police. When communities communities. For this reason (among others)
unite to demand a lower crime tolerance, the there is often a huge resistance to shifting an
police and the political system respond. entire agency to community policing. Com­
munities working with the police must ac­
Tolerance to crime is reinforced by informal
commodate a slow institutional change to­
social control—neighbors talking to neighbors
ward community policing.
and agreeing on what they tolerate and what
they don’t. When neighbors withdraw be­ If your police department has done little in
cause of increasing fear of crime (see Chapter establishing community policing, start with
3), these informal controls break down. The “communication” and work toward “col­
community then depends on formal social laboration.” Find officers who will be liaisons
controls—the police—to control crime. Any within the department. Find out what their
community planning to reduce crime must in­ values are. If they want to reduce 911 calls
corporate into its strategy a process of in­ and you want graffiti removed from buildings,
creasing contact among neighbors and devel­ show how community action and graffiti re­
oping an action plan that acknowledges the moval will reduce 911 calls. As you commu­
neighborhood’s responsibility for eliminating nicate, you will begin to cooperate, then co­
disorder and incivilities. ordinate, and finally collaborate. Consider
developing a simple card or survey form that
Strategy 2. Learn How the Police residents and businesses can use to report
Are Implementing Community signs of disorder (abandoned cars, broken
Policing street lights, loitering, vandalism, panhandling,
Everyone understands that emergency calls to etc.).
the police are important. But police also need
Tip: If you want the police to pay
to institutionalize the reality that increasing attention, give them what they
disorder leads to more serious crime and want. Most police departments
more 911 calls, which lead to more disorder. need information—not anecdotes,
Addressing disorder is an excellent way to but hard facts about who, what,
where, and when. If a neighbor­
reduce 911 calls. hood is cooperating by providing
Community policing is designed to form part­ specific, concrete information about
the type of crime and the perpetra­
nerships with the community to address dis­ tors involved, the police will be in a
order. But to do this, the shift to community much better position to coordinate
policing requires “re-engineering” the police responses to those problems.
department as an organization. Ideally, offi­
cers from the chief executive down to the
newest recruits will promote the approach re­
gardless of the unit to which they are as­
signed. But most police officers join a de­


Strategy 3. Work on Disorder streets and the patrol cars drove by, the
Together neighbors would applaud. Soon the police
Disorder, like loitering, graffiti, vandalized va­ stopped and began talking with the residents.
cant buildings, litter, and loud noise, is often They shared information. The police came by
not measured and tracked. As a result, it more. The neighbors learned their names:
does not receive the attention it should from Sgt. Dempsey, Officer Santiago. The officers
either the police or the community. If disor­ cooperated by keeping their eye on the cor­
der remains unchecked, attention to the ners during the day and the nights the neigh­
symptoms of disorder will have little effect. bors were not out.
Communities must address disorder if they Eartha and the residents soon learned that the
want to reduce crime and fear of crime. drug dealers they were chasing were supplied
Pick a manageable problem and begin a pro­ from a house on the middle of the block.
cess with the police for solving that problem. They began working with the police by shar­
Remember, collaboration requires separate ing that information and coordinating a strat­
responsibilities. The community must be in­ egy to solve the problem. They agreed that
dependently responsible for some part of the the police would do what they did best and
solution. They can organize graffiti removal begin the process of arresting the dealers.
teams or confront drug dealers on the street The neighbors would continue the vigils and
corner. Any of the tools suggested in this give them information.
manual will work. The police should do their That simple beginning led to an area-wide
part. That might be surveillance and a strategy to map all crime and begin develop­
buy/bust on a crack house supplying drugs to ing joint solutions to the community’s prob­
the corner drug dealers. Together you can lems. Eartha started an after-school program
reach a common goal: reducing crime. in the local church and began a community
garden with the youth. The police helped by
Putting It All Together linking her up with the Department of Parks
A woman named Eartha Kinnard, a daycare and Recreation and the Wilmington Horticul­
worker for the local YMCA, lived in the tural Society. The Department of Real Estate
Hilltop section of Wilmington, Delaware. Her closed down a neighborhood bar and pur­
neighborhood was overrun with street corner chased it to convert it for other purposes.
drug dealing. She felt the police did nothing Eartha’s story is similar to many other neigh­
except cruise through the neighborhood every borhood success stories. She began by en­
once in a while. couraging the neighborhood to take responsi­
Eartha organized the neighbors, and together bility for the problem. The neighbors
they went out on a street corner and chanted attracted the attention of the police by ap­
anti-drug slogans. They did this two times a pealing to their values at the time—reducing
week, every week. The police, who did only 911 calls for service. They began to cooper­
traditional policing, took notice. The number ate, coordinate, and then collaborate on the
of shootings and calls for service were down issues of disorder, those issues that caused
in that area. When the neighbors were on the crime. Without planning it, a city police de­


partment with a traditional approach to polic­ Wilson, J. Q., and G. Kelling. (March
ing was suddenly engaged in community po­ 1982). “Broken Windows.” Atlantic
licing in that neighborhood. Monthly. Pp. 29-38.

References Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)
Office of Justice Programs
Publications U.S. Department of Justice
Community Policing Consortium. (1994). BJA Clearinghouse
Understanding Community Policing: A P.O. Box 6000
Framework for Action. U.S. Department of Rockville, MD 20850
Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. 800- 800-688-4252
National information clearinghouse.
Connors, E. F., and Barbara Webster.
(1993). “Police Methods for Identifying
Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety
Community Problems.” American Journal
Warren Friedman, Director
of Police. Vol. XII, No. 1.
28 East Jackson, Suite 1215
Greene, J. R., and S. D. Mastrofski, eds. Chicago, IL 60604
Community Policing: Rhetoric or Reality. 312-461-0444
(1994). New York: Praeger Publishers. Community organizing, problem solving with
800-225-5800. the police.
Goldstein, H. (1990). Problem-Oriented
Policing. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. Citizens Committee for New York City, Inc.
212-412-0100 or 800-722-4276. Felice Kirby
305 Seventh Ave., 15th Floor
Rosenbaum, Dennis P., ed. (1994). The New York, NY 10001
Challenge of Community Policing: Testing 212-989-0909
the Promises. Thousand Oaks, California: Community organizing, joint citizen/police
Sage Publications. 805-499-0721. training, and problem solving.
Sparrow, J., M. H. Moore, and D. M. Ken­
nedy. (1990). Beyond 911: A New Era for Community Policing Consortium
Policing. New York: Basic Books. 212- 1726 M St., N.W., Suite 801
593-7057 or 800-242-7737. Washington, DC 20036
Trojanowicz, R., and B. Bucqueroux.
(1990). Community Policing: A Contem­
Community policing training and technical as­
porary Perspective. Cincinnati: Anderson
Publishing Company. 513-421-4142 or
Institute for Law and Justice
Ed Connors


1018 Duke St.

Alexandria, VA 22314
Working with the police, community policing
training, and technical assistance.

International Association of Chiefs of Police

Jerome Needle
515 North Washington St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Police training, technical assistance, and pol­
icy development.

National Center for Community Policing

School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
David Carter, Bonnie Bucqueroux
560 Baker Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
Community policing training.

Office of Community Oriented Policing Serv­

ices (COPS Office)
U.S. Department of Justice
1100 Vermont Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Police Executive Research Forum

1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036
Community policing research, technical as­
sistance, and training.


Chapter 10

Working with

Courts and Prosecutors

I f you feel that the court and prosecutors

don’t take your problems seriously—they
don’t prosecute minor quality-of-life
crimes, or they’re releasing people who
The court often processes its cases with little
or no explanation to outsiders. The victim
rights movement has brought some changes—
for example, victim impact statements and
commit the same crime repeatedly—read this systems to keep victims better informed about
chapter to learn ways you can get results. their cases. But victim rights advocates have
You’ve probably found that court and prose­ not always been successful in improving case
cution practices don’t place much emphasis processing or in making courts more respon­
on resolving neighborhood problems, espe­ sive to community needs.
cially when the problems involve lesser crimes
like disorderly conduct, panhandling, vandal­ How Courts Work
ism, public drunkenness, and delinquent acts After a crime has been committed and the
by juveniles. This chapter first provides some police make an arrest, the prosecutor is re­
background information on court case proc­ sponsible for charging the offender with
essing, explains how community priorities be­ committing a crime. Prosecution of felony
come lost in the court’s daily operations, and offenses is the responsibility of the district at­
provides guidelines you can use to assess torney, state’s attorney, or county attorney—
court-related problems that affect your own the title varies in different jurisdictions. The
neighborhood. The chapter then discusses felony case prosecutor may also be responsi­
strategies and tactics you can use to make ble for prosecuting misdemeanor and juvenile
courts and prosecutors more responsive to cases, but not always. In some jurisdictions,
your neighborhood’s needs. the city attorney (corporation counsel), the
county attorney, or a special court-appointed
prosecutor handles these less serious cases.1
Analyzing the Problem It is important to determine who prosecutes
In many ways, the criminal courts operate as the cases, since many crimes that degrade the
a closed system with community input gener­ quality of life in a neighborhood are misde­
ally only in the form of victims and offenders. meanors or involve juveniles.


Regardless of who prosecutes, criminal cases Court Responsiveness to the

follow the same general pattern. The first Community
step after arrest is a court hearing to set bail, At all points in the process, criminal cases
to impose conditions of release, or to hold the may be rejected by the court or prosecutor,
defendant in jail awaiting trial. If bail is de­ or the charges may be reduced to a lesser
nied, the court must determine whether there criminal offense. This authority to reduce or
is probable cause to believe that the defen­ dismiss charges is frequently invoked. The
dant committed the crime charged by the pressure from the sheer numbers of criminal
prosecutor. cases in the courts leads to “plea bargaining”
In felony cases, the case moves to a prelimi­ between the defendant’s attorney and the
nary arraignment. At this arraignment hearing, prosecutor to reduce the defendant’s possible
the defendant is formally informed of the jail or prison sentence in exchange for a guilty
charges being filed and is asked whether he plea. Only in highly publicized cases is there
or she wishes to plead guilty or not guilty to public scrutiny of this practice.
the charges. Public interest in major, individual felony
In misdemeanor cases, the initial bail hearing cases does not typically extend to less serious
after arrest will also act as the arraignment and misdemeanor cases. Lesser crimes may
hearing. If a plea of not guilty is entered, the be unexceptional, taken one by one, but when
court will then give the case a later trial date. they are considered together, they represent a
significant community problem. It is only
If the defendant is found guilty in a misde­ when these lesser crimes become the subject
meanor case, a sentence will be imposed at of public concern that the impact of plea bar­
that time. In felony cases, a separate sen­ gaining in these cases becomes an issue.
tencing hearing is often held to hear evidence
about what sentence to impose. But even when charges are not dismissed or
reduced, court-imposed penalties may not
Juvenile courts follow similar procedures, with reflect the community’s view of the serious­
several important differences. In many states, ness of the offense. Court sanctions are often
juvenile probation caseworkers review all limited not by law, but by a lack of resources
complaints against juveniles and may impose or a lack of initiative. The most common
non-judicial sanctions, or even dismiss cases, problem is the lack of appropriate sanctions
without either judicial or prosecutor review. where the court finds that the offense is not
Juvenile court proceedings are closed to pub­ serious enough to warrant use of expensive
lic viewing in many states to protect the juve- (and overcrowded) jail space. Similarly,
nile’s privacy and to facilitate the court’s ef­ confinement in a detention center is not an
forts to prescribe treatment alternatives. appropriate sanction for minor offenses by
Finally, in most states, the juvenile court judge juveniles. A lesser sanction is needed, but
determines guilt or innocence without a jury. many courts have limited alternatives. Usu­
The result is that community participation in ally, the court sentences the minor offender to
the juvenile court process is often much more probation, where the offender may not have
limited than in the criminal court. any real duties except not being rearrested.


The problem is most acute for defendants for Careful analysis of court-related problems is
whom probation should be linked to atten­ very important. Sometimes the court is unre­
dance at an alcohol or other drug treatment sponsive to community concerns because of
program. officeholders’ personal priorities, idiosyncra­
sies, or beliefs. Solutions in these situations
Taking Inventory will require changing attitudes and resetting
The first step in improving court and prose­ priorities. In other instances, problems with
cutor responsiveness to your neighborhood’s case outcomes or case processing may be
needs is to take stock of the issues and re­ rooted in the way the system is organized, re­
sources. In addition, court watch programs quiring changes in how the court operates.
(described later on) are particularly valuable
Tip: Be specific when stating your
for helping you clarify and document court­ concern. A statement like, “Mis­
related problems. As you analyze your local demeanor cases always get proba­
issues, here are some of the questions you’ll tion,” will not get much attention.
need to address: But try, “95 percent of misde­
meanor drug possession convic­
¤ What specific crimes are of concern to tions result in unsupervised proba­
the community (for example, prostitu­ tion.” This gives people a hard fact
on which to focus.
tion, drug crimes, drunk driving, graf­
fiti, public drunkenness, panhandling,
loitering, etc.)? Interviewing Court Officials and
¤ How are arrests in these cases proc­ Other Personnel
essed? Once you have begun to clarify which issues
¤ Who is responsible for prosecution at are of greatest concern to the community, you
each step? will want to interview officials responsible for
¤ What problems are there in processing court operations. These officials can help
these cases? For example, are cases identify problems and causes and can later
frequently dismissed or charges re­ assign responsibility for making improve­
duced? Is there a lack of meaningful ments. You will also want to get independent
sanctions after conviction? assessments from others who are knowledge­
Dissatisfaction with the court may be related able observers or participants in court pro­
to court outcomes, court processing, or ceedings but who do not have administrative
both. Dissatisfaction with court outcomes responsibility (for example, public defenders,
includes concern about too many cases dis­ victim advocates, other service providers).
missed or downgraded, or failure of the court People to interview include:
to impose meaningful sanctions. Court proc­
¤ Chief administrative judge of the court
ess dissatisfaction includes long delays in re­
¤ Presiding judge of the criminal court (if
solving cases, failure to notify victims of what
multi-divisional court)

is happening in their cases, or inefficient use of

¤ Prosecutor or executive deputy

jurors’ time.
¤ Head of public defender agency

¤ Chief probation officer of court


¤ Criminal law professor of nearby law ¤ Encourage courts and judges to adopt
school (if one nearby) new approaches and programs.
¤ President of local bar association or
trial lawyers affiliate Strategy 1. Influence the Courts
¤ Other judges or assistant prosecutors With the exception of juvenile court hearings,
as available most court proceedings are open to the pub­
¤ Major court service providers (such as lic. You can influence the courts and empha­
drug treatment, social services, juve­ size the importance of a case to your commu­
nile diversion, or others depending on nity simply by showing up, either as a group
your community’s particular concerns) or through a court watch program. And you
Questions to ask include: can use other tactics to bring judges “down
from the bench and into your neighborhood.”
¤ What is their role in the court process?
¤ How do they view the significance of ¤ Bring Groups into Arraignment
the community problems with which Hearings. These hearings are open
you are concerned? to the public. In fact, when a suspect
¤ What actions can they take or recom­ is apprehended, you can even follow
mend that the courts take to meet the police car down to the courthouse
community concerns? to the arraignment. Judges will often
¤ What further actions should the com­ be influenced to deny bail when
munity take? groups of concerned citizens take the
initiative to show up at arraignment
hearings. This technique has been
Strategies and Tactics used successfully in many communi­
This section explains several strategies for ties, including Palo Alto, California.
making courts and prosecutors more aware ¤ Develop a Court Watch Pro­
of—and responsive to—your neighborhood gram. One of the most effective
concerns. Strategies and tactics for influenc­ ways to hold courts and prosecutors
ing the courts, prosecutors, and probation accountable is to undertake a court
and parole can be done in almost any juris­ watch program. Court watches use
diction with volunteers and very little money. volunteers who sit in the courtroom,
Strategies to encourage innovation and carefully observe court proceedings,
change the system—for example, by devel­ and record and report on court ac­
oping community courts or drug courts—are tions. Effective court watch volunteers
more ambitious and expensive, but are use a checklist or follow specific
showing positive results in many communities. guidelines. Court watch programs
serve several purposes. First, the
These are some strategies you can use:
mere presence of trained, organized
¤ Influence the courts.
observers in the courtroom reminds
¤ Influence the prosecutor.
judges and prosecutors of the impor­
¤ Use the probation and parole system.
tance the community places on how
cases are handled. Second, court


watches are invaluable for problem Strategy 2. Influence the Prosecutor

analysis because they provide an em­ ¤ State Your Concerns. Meet with
pirical base—statistics, not just com­ the prosecutor, write letters, call, do
plaints or anecdotes—that can be all you can to urge the prosecutor to
used to convince judges, local legisla­ treat as serious crimes the “quality of
tors, and others of the need for life” offenses that plague your commu­
change. Court watches organized by nity. Get the prosecution involved in
Mothers Against Drunk Driving your neighborhood problems.
(MADD) are an excellent example of ¤ Hold Public Meetings. Prosecu­
this. Finally, court watch programs tors, like judges, are part of the politi­
can help you monitor how courts actu­ cal as well as criminal justice system.
ally implement change. Invite the prosecutor to your commu­
Court watch programs may also nity. Ask questions. Get the prose­
expand their responsibilities beyond cutor to inform you of trial dates.
observation and reporting. In some ¤ Encourage Community-Based
communities, court watch volunteers Prosecution. Ask your prosecutor
also assist victims by accompanying to assign specific responsibility to an
them to court hearings. In other juris­ assistant prosecutor for cases in your
dictions, the court watch reports on community. Many prosecutors are
court proceedings to crime victims adopting “community prosecution”
who are unable to personally attend approaches. This involves decentral­
hearings. izing the prosecution staff by assigning
¤ Invite Judges to Your Commu­ prosecutors and support staff to spe­
nity. Many judges are unaware of the cific communities, sometimes by mov­
conditions in your neighborhoods or ing them into local prosecution centers
the problems you face. Ask judges to that serve specific geographic areas.
come into your community to meet In medium-sized jurisdictions, the as­
with you. signed area is often defined by police
¤ Hold Pre-Election Meetings. precincts or stations. In large jurisdic­
Remember that judges hold political tions, prosecutors may be assigned to
positions, either elected by the public zones that encompass several police
or appointed by elected officials. command posts. As with community
Hold a meeting and ask questions of policing, community prosecution is in­
the candidates for judge. tended to let prosecutors become fa­
¤ Make Victim Impact State­ miliar with a neighborhood and engage
ments. Ask the judge’s clerk to in­ citizens in problem solving.
form the community of the date for
sentencing. Some courts take victim Strategy 3. Use the Probation and
impact statements, and the community Parole System
may be able to make one, but you More often than not, the individuals causing
have to ask the clerk. serious problems in your community are al­


ready on probation and parole. Don’t over­ diction does not have this option, push
look the fact that probation and parole offi­ for it.
cers have enormous power. They can influ­ ¤ Encourage Police/Probation
ence judges in setting conditions of probation, Teamwork. Don’t assume that po­
and with persons under their supervision they lice and probation departments are
can conduct searches, require office visits, well coordinated. Push for better in­
order drug tests, and initiate revocation pro­ formation sharing, special po-
ceedings for violations of conditions. lice/probation teams and task forces,
programs and special operations that
¤ Find Out Who Is on Probation or
get probation officers out from behind
Parole. You can help get probation
the desk and patrolling with police,
and parole violators back off the
and other tactics that get police and
streets, but you must first know who
probation working together to target
they are. Get the police to run checks
serious probation and parole violators.
to find out who is on probation.
Project “Night Light” in Boston is a
¤ Push for Stay-Away Orders and
model of police-probation officer co­
Other Conditions. Find out the
names of your local probation or pa­
role officers. Ask what conditions of Strategy 4. Encourage Courts and
probation or parole have been im­ Judges to Adopt New Approaches
posed. For most crimes, the proba­ and Programs
tion officer can seek a stay-away or­
Several promising types of court and prose­
der, requiring probationers who do not
cutor reforms are taking place around the
live in your neighborhood to stay out,
country. Many of the approaches featured
and drug dealers can be ordered not
here involve significant system changes and
to loiter there.
will require long-term planning and consider­
¤ Observe and Report Violators.
able resources.
Now that you know who is on proba­
tion, the conditions they must meet, ¤ Community Courts. As the number
and the probation officer who is in of arrests increases, criminal courts
charge, report the violations you ob­ can become overly bureaucratic—
serve. more concerned with disposing of
¤ Ask for Intensive Supervised cases than in giving personalized
Probation. If your probation de­ attention to minor cases or in
partment has intensive supervised pro­ responding to community problems,
bation, ask that chronic offenders be which they may see as the role of the
placed under it. Intensive probation police or city government. Community
involves frequent personal contacts courts are designed to remedy this
with the probation supervisor and of­ situation by focusing on the community
ten includes the use of electronic problems reflected in the cases
bracelets and drug tests. If your juris­ brought to court.
One of the most successful com­
munity courts is the Manhattan

Community Court in New York City. service, restitution (where applicable),

This community-initiated, misdemeanor and counseling. In this way, teen
arraignment court was set up in re­ courts address community concerns
sponse to the mid-town Manhattan about holding youthful offenders ac­
business community’s concern that mi­ countable for their actions, and at the
nor crimes like disorderly conduct and same time provide opportunities for
public drunkenness were driving cus­ youth development.
tomers away. The court brings to­ ¤ Drug Courts. Many jurisdictions are
gether service agencies, business and now operating special drug courts.
other community representatives, and These courts do not try felony drug
community police officers to structure traffickers but instead handle lesser
sentencing of offenders who plead drug offenses. They can free up the
guilty in the court to minor crimes. criminal court calendar, increase of­
While most offenders are sentenced to fender accountability, ensure access to
community service (such as graffiti re­ treatment services, and improve re­
moval or cleanup crews), others may cidivism and recovery rates. Using the
be required to attend treatment pro­ power of the court (and sometimes the
grams, and a few are sentenced to jail “charisma” of a particular judge), drug
terms. More information about how courts generally involve frequent drug
the Manhattan Community Court was testing and frequent court appear­
formed and is sustained is included un­ ances, and they impose a series of
der “Putting It All Together” at the end progressively more stringent sanctions
of this chapter. for non-compliance with treatment
¤ Teen Courts. If your community is plans. Two resources are the De­
particularly concerned about delin­ partment of Justice, Office of Justice
quent behavior and relatively minor Programs, which operates a special
crimes by juveniles, you may want to Office of Drug Courts, and the Na­
consider a teen court. The teen court tional Association of Drug Court Pro­
movement is based on the premise that fessionals.
many juveniles can be diverted from ¤ Other Specialized Courts. Some
future delinquency or crime by early jurisdictions are also operating gang,
intervention. Specific offenses that gun, and other specialized courts to
teen courts focus on include underage help ensure that selected types of vio­
drinking, substance abuse offenses, lent crime cases do not get lost in the
and property damage crimes. Teen system.
courts intervene by using peer judges ¤ Pre-Trial Drug Testing. Many of­
to recommend sanctions for the delin­ fenders are drug users, and any indi­
quent youth and to encourage lawful vidual involved with the criminal justice
behavior among those serving as peer system can be required to take a drug
judges. As with the community court, test. Judges in many jurisdictions con­
typical sanctions include community sider pre-trial drug test results in set­


ting bail and conditions of release. If for that court—which already included
your jurisdiction does not conduct members representing the commu-
pre-trial drug testing, push for it. nity’s ethnic makeup—also began
Learn more about the Department of providing translation services for the
Justice’s Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) court, permitting it to better determine
program and the drug testing program which cases called for more active in­
operated by the Pretrial Services tervention.
Agency in Washington, DC, which is ¤ Community Involvement in Sen­
also pilot-testing a drug court. tencing. The restorative justice
¤ Intensive Community Supervi­ movement throughout the country is
sion for Juveniles. One of your exploring new ways to increase com­
community’s major concerns may be munity involvement as well as ensure
the “recycling” of youth through the ju­ offender accountability and the provi­
venile court system. Commitment to a sion of services. As part of the Ver­
detention center or group home may mont restorative justice effort, for ex­
be inappropriate or impossible be­ ample, large numbers of offenders are
cause of crowding. As a result, these sentenced by groups of citizens.
youth are back on the streets, with lit­
tle or no supervision or attention to Tip: If you want to change the sys­
personal or family needs. To break tem by undertaking any of these
long-term approaches, strive for a
this cycle with young teenagers, the very broad base of support. Set up
Children at Risk (CAR) project in an advisory board or similar, per­
several cities assigned a special manent structure to ensure ongoing
worker to provide intensive case community influence on court op­
erations and programs.
monitoring. The caseworkers were
able to avoid interrupting services al­
ready being provided to families, and
judges received assurance that the Putting It All Together
youth would be closely supervised. In The Manhattan Community Court started
effect, these case workers assumed with a growing realization among local busi­
most responsibilities normally assigned nesses that relatively minor street crimes—
to intensive supervision probation offi­ prostitution, drug possession, public drunken­
cers. ness, panhandling, vandalism, loitering, etc.—
¤ Citizen Advisory Panels. Some were adversely affecting business in the Times
courts (such as in Hudson County, Square area, but were not being addressed
New Jersey) have established citizen by the city’s criminal justice system. Meetings
advisory panels to deal with cases that among business owners, criminal justice plan­
might otherwise be rejected because ners, New York City court leaders, and for­
of heavy caseloads. This problem in mer city officials led to an initiative by the
Hudson County was especially acute Fund for the City of New York to raise
in the juvenile court. The citizen panel money for a new misdemeanor arraignment


court. Located within the mid-town Man­ performed many other beautification tasks. In
hattan business district, the court was de­ addition, the court’s success has drawn other
signed to address the identified quality-of-life social service agencies to locate at the court­
problems in a systematic manner. The Ad­ house to better identify individuals who are
ministrator of the Courts in the city backed not offenders but who need services. These
the plan by assigning a judge and necessary include homeless persons and victims of do­
support staff to the new court. Day-to-day mestic violence. Perhaps the greatest symbol
direction of the court is under the manage­ of the court’s success is a plan to establish a
ment of a small group of Fund employees and second community court in a working-class
consultants, who are paid through a contract community in the Red Hook section of
with the City of New York. Brooklyn, New York.
Community participation in the operation of
the court continues through bi-monthly meet­
ings of a court advisory board, which is com­ References
posed of business leaders, service providers,
community activists, and other local repre­ Publications
sentatives. As a result, the court is now a fo­ American Probation and Parole Association.
cal point for community groups to voice their (Winter 1996). Teen Courts: Empowering
concerns about law enforcement priorities. our Youth. Lexington, KY: Council of State
Other important community ties are main­ Governments. 606-244-8205.
tained by the court’s extensive reliance on Court Watch Manual: A Citizen’s Guide to
community-based and government agencies Judicial Accountability. (1981). Wash­
to provide services to arrestees who need ington: Washington Legal Foundation.
help. Services include, for example, health
counseling provided by student nurses from a Criminal Court Monitoring Handbook.
local university, drug treatment, and employ­ (1996). New York: The Fund for Modern
ment counseling. Courts.

The court has succeeded on many levels. Drug Night Courts: The Cook County Ex­
First, the court disposes of approximately 75 perience. (1994). Washington: U.S. De­
percent of all cases brought before it at ar­ partment of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assis­
raignment, many of them within six hours of tance. 800-688-4252.
arrest. Expensive jail time and other costs for “Special Drug Courts: Program Brief.” (No­
arraignment in the centralized courts are vember 1993). Washington: U.S. Depart­
thereby eliminated. Through a combination of ment of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
swift and certain punishment and services to 800-688-4252.
those in need, quality-of-life crimes have been
Tracy M. Godwin, et al. Peer Justice and
reduced by almost half in the Times Square
Youth Empowerment: An Implementation
area. Offenders who are sentenced to com­
Guide for Teen Court Programs. (1996).
munity service have dramatically reduced
Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, Of­
graffiti in the area by painting over it and have


fice of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Pre­ Information on establishing and operating
vention. 202-307-5940. drug courts.

Organizations National Center for State Courts

Anchorage Youth Court 300 Newport Ave. Williamsburg, VA 23185
court.html 757-253-2000
Center for Court Innovation Assistance for strengthening state courts.
Manhattan Community Court
John Feinblatt, Director National Coalition for Family Justice, Inc.
351 West 54th St., 2nd Floor 21 Broadway
New York, NY 10019 Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 00533
212-397-3050 914-591-5753

Drug Courts Program Office Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Drug Court
Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department Clearinghouse
of Justice Operated by American University
633 Indiana Ave., N.W. Justice Programs Office, School of Public
Washington, DC 20531 Affairs
202-616-5001 4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W. Brandywine Suite 660
Washington, DC 20016
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) 202-885-2875
National Office
511 E. John Carpenter Freeway, #700 /justice/
Irving, Texas 75062
214-744-6233 or 972-869-2206 State Justice Institute
Advocacy, court watch. Liv Vines
1650 King St., Suite 600
McMinnville (Oregon) Community Peer Alexandria, VA 22314
Court 703-684-6100
htm Assistance and funding to state courts (crimi­
nal, civil, juvenile, family, and appelate).
National Association of Drug Court Profes­
sionals Willamette University Legal Access Project
Judge Jeffrey Tauber 900 State St.
901 N. Pitt St., Suite 300 Salem, OR 97301
Alexandria, VA 22314 503-370-6300 or 503-375-5456

Student victim assistance project, court

Vera Institute of Justice

Chris Stone, Director
377 Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Community courts, policing, criminal justice

1 Ina few areas, a police officer or juvenile
probation officer may be the prosecutor, at
least in the initial stages of the case.