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now entering a weed and seed community

Weed and Seed is a Department of Justice community-based program whose goal is to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods throughout the country. Weed and Seed strategy follows a two-pronged approach: local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in “weeding” out criminals who engage in violent crimes and drug abuse, and “seeding” brings to the area human services encompassing prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization. A community-oriented policing component bridges weeding and seeding strategies: officers obtain cooperation and information from area residents while they assist residents in obtaining information about community revitalization and resources.

As part of the upcoming fiscal year budget, the Weed & Seed program had ended. Funding for new Weed & Seed sites will no longer be available. However, these types of programs may still be available through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI). This initiative was not funded in the FY 2011 final continuing resolution. However, BCJI was included in the President’s proposed FY2012 budget and is pending before Congress. For questions about this source of grant funding please consult the Weed & Seed website FAQ section.

Within the Northern District of California there have been a number of designated Weed and Seed sites over the past 15 years. In the past several years there have been the following designations: Salinas, East Oakland, San Francisco and two in San Jose. West Oakland has been a graduated site for several years. Each of the sites has unique characteristics which create special challenges. At each site, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has played an important role in working with the steering committee and in bringing together the participants on both the “weeding” and “seeding” sides of the program. Most of the programs have run their individual five year program funding cycles, but continue to meet and work on Weed and Seed issues in the community.

A variety of funding opportunities for law enforcement and other programs are listed on the Office of Justice Programs website.

National Weed and Seed Program — U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Weed and Seed

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Weed and Seed program was developed to demonstrate an innovative and comprehensive approach to law enforcement and community revitalization, and to prevent and control violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in target areas. The program, initiated in 1991, attempts to weed out violent crime, gang activity, and drug use and trafficking in target areas, and then seed the target area by restoring the neighborhood through social and economic revitalization. Weed and Seed has three objectives: (1) develop a comprehensive, multiagency strategy to control and prevent violent crime, drug trafficking, and drug-related crime in target neighborhoods; (2) coordinate and integrate existing and new initiatives to concentrate resources and maximize their impact on reducing and preventing violent crime, drug trafficking, and gang activity; and (3) mobilize community residents in the target areas to assist law enforcement in identifying and removing violent offenders and drug traffickers from the community and to assist other human service agencies in identifying and responding to service needs of the target area. To achieve these goals, Weed and Seed integrates law enforcement, community policing, prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood restoration efforts. The Weed and Seed program is being implemented in more than 150 communities across the country.

The Executive Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS) within the Office of Justice Programs is responsible for overall program policy, coordination, and development. EOWS also serves to enhance the law enforcement and prosecution coordination among Federal, State, and local agencies, and coordinates with other cooperating programs and agencies such as Ameri-Corps, Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities, and the Comprehensive Communities Program.

Microloans. The U.S. Small Business Administration administers a microloan program for business start-up. As part of the revitalization effort, it’s possible to cultivate potential entrepreneurs who live right in the neighborhood.

For this you should a major community engagement campaign. People have to be told and shown that law enforcement is strong enough to protect them from retaliation if they report suspicious activities and people.

Since this is a community development website, let’s point you toward the pages that might be very relevant and helpful for a community trying to address their drug, alcohol, gun, violence, and unemployed ex-offender issues.

Keys to Success with a Program Based on the Weed and Seed Idea

Law enforcement is typically better funded than social services, but if law enforcement officials dominate the program, they may not make the right decisions about the social and community work needed.

Results will take time. The Weed and Seed program was a five-year program, after which sites “graduated” but still received a reduced level of help.

We think you still could imitate the structure, described in detail in this publication on the Weed and Seed strategy, to some extent at the local level, although your hard-pressed law enforcement agencies may or may not be able to obtain extra attention from the Department of Justice for drug, gun, and other federal law violations. We turn now to how you would organize such a program.

Look beyond the obvious places for partners too. How about the local library, training providers, arts organizations and individual artists, musicians, drug counseling, drug courts, religious orders or non-profits providing options for prostitutes, employment programs that really work, entrepreneurship support projects, healthy corner store or food initiatives happening in your community, and so forth.