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mobile weed and seed program

Weed and Seed is a strategy that combines community-based law enforcement (“weed”) with human services (“seed”) in order to assist residents in reclaiming and revitalizing their neighborhoods. New federal funding ($18 million for human services; $1 million for law enforcement) is combined with existing local resources to develop more effective programs within the selected communities. Los Angeles has two Weed and Seed sites: one is in the Pico-Union/Koreatown area and one is in South-Central Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles program did not begin with a massive law enforcement effort, as Mancillas asserts. Because the Los Angeles program has $18 million for human services, our primary objectives have been to secure the federal funding for 1992 and implement the human services programs as quickly as possible. Community, city, county and federal representatives have established working groups in areas such as education; housing; job training and placement; family, health and mental services; gang alternatives, and drug prevention and treatment. The city has already received funding for housing subsidies and job training.

As to Mancillas’ observation that a successful “weed” component requires a reconciliation between the police and community, we agree. In fact, the law enforcement representatives participating in the Weed and Seed program are committed to community-based policing and to improving community relations. Law enforcement officials have proposed several programs, such as bicycle patrols, recreational activities, and mobile substations, in order to improve relations between the police and the Weed and Seed communities. There will be no indiscriminate “sweeps”; rather, police will rely on the residents to assist in ridding the neighborhoods of the most violent and destructive criminals. Chief Willie Williams is committed to community-based policing and supports the Weed and Seed strategy of combining human services with supportive law enforcement.

In a recent Column Left (“Police Have Some ‘Weeds’ of Their Own,” Aug. 10), Jorge R. Mancillas expressed reservations about the recently approved Weed and Seed program in Los Angeles. Mancillas incorrectly assumed that the Los Angeles program would begin with a massive law enforcement effort without attempting to reconcile existing difficulties with police-community relations. Mancillas also dismissed the “seed” or human services component as nothing more than “a few crumbs.” Unfortunately, Mancillas was not familiar with the details of the Los Angeles program when he wrote his article. I have since talked with Mancillas and offer the following overview with the hope of correcting some misperceptions about the Los Angeles Weed and Seed program.

In addition to planning and establishing the 1992 federally funded programs, the working groups are charged with developing long-term strategies for dealing with the problems of the Weed and Seed communities. The federal funds provide a good foundation to leverage existing resources and to encourage coordinated efforts. The implementation of successful programs in 1992 also will provide a base for increased funding in 1993.

Members of the City of Mobile Weed and Seed Program and the Mobile Police Department will perform a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) analysis of J&J Furniture at 2996 Spring Hill Ave. on Friday, June 19 at 10 a.m. Lt. Keith Stallings will serve as the CPTED evaluator and will provide the business owners with suggestions for preventing crime at their location.

Weed and Seed is a community-based initiative designed to “weed” out problems of neighborhood crime and blight, and “seed” improvements for rebuilding of those neighborhoods. Mobile was one of the first cities in the nation to obtain a Weed and Seed grant. Since the inception of the program in the mid-1990s, the community has put to work more than $2.3 million in federal funds to transform distressed neighborhoods.

A CPTED Training and Certification Conference and Workshop, which is designed to certify officers, civilians working in businesses, and community leaders in ensuring safe neighborhoods and storefronts, is scheduled for June 22-24 at the Brookley Conference Center. The registration fee is $50 and more information can be obtained by calling Sgt. John Sylvester, Enhanced Neighborhood Policing Sergeant for Precinct Three or Mr. Andre Epps, Weed and Seed Facilitator at 208-1936.