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weed and seed neighborhood

The majority of sites expanded or strengthened community policing efforts by dedicating officers to specific geographic areas. Though community residents would often protest weeding activities, fearing targeted harassment or discrimination by police, the community policing focus helped to improve relationships between communities and police, and led to increased public confidence in police in a number of locations. The result was a greater potential for making police-community partnerships sustainable after W&S funding was phased out. Little follow-on research has been done to see if this was in fact the result.

The future of Weed and Seed is uncertain. The program has low funding levels (around $60 million nationally per year), so it is not a very significant federal budget item. Therefore, it does not offer much savings potential during the annual appropriations process. However, for that very reason it would be a simple matter for it to be eliminated.

“Multi-agency task forces concentrated on the target area, although they pursued drug cases across jurisdictional lines” (Dunworth and Mills 1999). Increased police presence was funded through additional staffing and overtime, and a majority of sites assigned dedicated officers to the target area. These approaches helped build relationships with residents and aided enforcement through better local knowledge and intelligence, an increased ability to operate proactively, and enhanced communication between residents and police. ”Weed and Seed provided a vehicle for mobilizing residents to participate in crime prevention. Responses ranged from increasing neighborhood watches, to community meetings, to a citizens’ advisory committee that provided guidance on law enforcement priorities” (Dunworth and Mills 1999). Violent and drug-related crimes were especially targeted by these efforts.

Weeding

The number of funded sites has grown steadily, from twenty-one immediately after the demonstration to more than three hundred in 2005. Site funding levels have declined as a consequence of this growth because congressional appropriations have not changed in proportion to the increase in sites. In the early 1990s, roughly 36 sites were funded at $750,000 per year for four or five years. By 1997, about 120 sites were funded at $250,000 per year. In 2005, few sites got more than $150,000 annually, though funding is the same for all sites. Current sites range in size from a few blocks to several miles in area, with populations between three thousand and fifty thousand. While typically within a city, some sites are county based.

The first stage of W&S typically requires geographically targeted law enforcement by police and prosecutors (weeding). This is followed by enhanced social services and neighborhood improvements (seeding). Consequently, interagency cooperation and collaboration are required elements of most weed and seed strategies. Examples of such efforts include federal/local task forces involving the FBI, DEA, and some combination of city, county, and state police. Federal and local prosecutors also play a key role in identifying the optimal prosecution strategy when task force activities result in arrests. On the seeding side, increased communication and task sharing between social service agencies and community-based private sector organizations offer the potential for significant enhancement in the scope and quality of social service delivery. The usual pattern is to enhance a core of social services and organizations that are already collaborating.

There were three demonstration sites in 1991: Kansas City, Missouri; Trenton, New Jersey; and Omaha, Nebraska. By 1997, management of the program had moved from the EOP to the Executive Office for Weed and Seed in the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). In 2004, a new office— Community Capacity and Development Office (CCDO), within the Bureau of Justice Assistance—took over W&S program management.

Before receiving funding, a community must attain official recognition as a W&S site from CCDO. To do this, the site must put together a steering committee and a strategic plan. Once official recognition is attained, the site may apply for funding from CCDO. Official recognition and funding are both temporary, with a five-year limit. A site that continues to implement its strategic plan and maintain its partnerships is considered to have graduated from W&S. Regardless, five years after official recognition, the site may not apply for W&S funding or official recognition status again.

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.