Preventing Crime and Empowering Communities
BJA's crime prevention programs address two types of crime risks: factors in a given environment that are known to facilitate situations in which unlawful behavior is more likely to occur, and factors that are known to aggravate unlawful behavior by an individual or increase the vulnerability of an individual to criminal victimization. BJA addresses these risks by encouraging communities to partner with law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies in mitigating crime, raising awareness and education of crime prevention techniques, and building the capacity of organizations with a crime prevention focus.
Volunteers in Police Service
The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program is one of five Citizen Corps partner programs that build on the successful efforts in place in many communities around the country to prevent crime and respond effectively to emergencies. VIPS is managed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) on behalf of BJA. The program's ultimate goal is to enhance the capacity of local and state law enforcement agencies to make better use of volunteers. The VIPS Program also serves as a resource for all law enforcement volunteer programs and efforts. The program's web site, which has received more than 50 million hits since its inception, serves as the gateway to multiple resources for law enforcement. These include a searchable directory that allows agencies to network or contact programs with similar volunteer programs; a library of sample documents and forms; a resource guide to help agencies interested in starting a volunteer program; an introductory e-learning course and other educational programs for law enforcement executives; technical support; a moderated online discussion group; and a monthly newsletter.
In FY 2010, the VIPS Program surpassed a major milestoneregistering its 2,000th program. This past year, the VIPS Program released six new issues of the VIPS in Focus publication series. The topics for these issues were:
VIPS held 4 workshops and conducted 11 site visits in FY 2010. The VIPS Program also developed a new publication entitled Missing Persons: Volunteers Supporting Law Enforcement, and transformed the popular Building Blocks of a Law Enforcement Volunteer Program curriculum into a 2-hour e-learning course.
Communities working with law enforcement have always been an effective aid to preventing crime and maintaining safe neighborhoods. An increase in crime during the 1960s heightened the need for a crime prevention initiative that would focus on residential areas and involve local citizens. The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) responded, creating the National Neighborhood Watch Program in 1972.
BJA partners with NSA to help local law enforcement agencies develop and maintain Neighborhood Watch programs. Neighborhood Watch empowers residents to be the "eyes and ears" of local law enforcement. In 2002, the partnership launched the USAonWatch® Program to expand the role of Neighborhood Watch programs to include disaster preparedness, emergency response, and terrorism awareness. The USAonWatch web site registered more than 2,000 watch groups in FY 2010, bringing the total number of registered watch groups to 23,000 in the United States and eight other countries.
Also in FY 2010, NSA:
In FY 2011, NSA will develop specialized Neighborhood Watch programs and trainings that address elder abuse, vacant properties, and bullying.
Neighborhood Watch Expands Into Diverse Communities
The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) has promoted and supported bringing Neighborhood Watch and crime prevention to communities with diverse cultures and languages. NSA has Spanish-speaking trainers who can work with new residents and citizens to gain the trust and respect of the community and to develop Neighborhood Watch programs. NSA developed a Spanish version of the Neighborhood Watch Manual, and the main feature of its April 2010 issue of Neighborhood Watch News is an article titled "It's a Small World: Crime Prevention in Ethnic Communities."
Internet Crime Complaint Center
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) arose from a partnership among BJA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and serves the broader law enforcement community. IC3 allows the public to file Internet-related criminal complaints and refers these complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. Since its inception, IC3 has received complaints across the spectrum of cybercrimes, from online fraud in its many formsincluding intellectual property rights, computer intrusions (hacking), economic espionage (theft of trade secrets), online extortion, international money laundering, and identity theftto a growing list of Internet-facilitated crimes. It also has become increasingly evident that, regardless of what label a cybercrime is initially given, it has substantial potential to overlap with other crimes.
IC3 also is working to establish effective secondary alliances with industry. Such alliances will enable IC3 to leverage both intelligence and subject matter expert resources that are pivotal in identifying and crafting an aggressive, proactive approach to combating cybercrime. These alliances will also assist law enforcement in its investigations as new and more advanced types of cybercrimes come to the forefront.
The IC3 project is funded through a grant issued to NWC3, which in FY 2010 received approximately $14.5 million to combat economic, electronic, and high-tech crimes as well as to support the work of IC3. In FY 2010, IC3 received the second-highest number of consumer complaints about cybercrime (303,809) since its inception, an increase of more than 500 percent over the past 10 years. The Center also reached a major milestone in its existence when it receiving its 2,000,000th complaint.
In addition, IC3 continues to support the Internet Complaint Search and Investigation System (ICSIS), which gives agencies with criminal investigative authority the ability to search all complaints received, create cases, and collaborate with other agencies nationwide. The development of ICSIS and accompanying NW3C-conducted training on how to use this tool have led to a significant increase in complaints, referrals, and reported dollar loss.
Internet Crime Complaint Center Exposes Consumer Fraud
An Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) analyst noticed a high volume of complaints against one particular company. Upon further evaluation, it was determined that the company was offering free trial samples of products to victims who paid for the shipping and handling with a credit card. The company then made unauthorized purchases using the cards. A total of 372 complaints were lodged against the company, with reported losses totaling more than $53,000. Once this pattern was identified, the information was referred to the local law enforcement agency, which opened a joint investigation with the state attorney general. These agencies remained in constant contact with the IC3 analyst for assistance and updated complaint data. The big success in this story is the fact the victims reported their problem to IC3, whose analyst noticed a pattern of repeat complaints and worked with local law enforcement to address the issues.
National Crime Prevention Council Initiatives
BJA and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) partner on several nationwide crime prevention initiatives.
National Crime Prevention Association
In FY 2010, NCPC, with the support of BJA, continued its work with individual law enforcement officers and other crime practitioners through its membership organization: the National Crime Prevention Association (NCPA). NCPA provides its approximately 1,400 members with current and topical information, best practices, resources, and training to enhance their ability to prevent crime in their communities. NCPC conducted training webinars on current practitioners; distributed monthly newsletters; conducted six training seminars; and redesigned its web site, which received more than 17,000 hits.
Circle of Respect
The much publicized tragedies of school shootings and suicides such as Virginia Tech and Columbine are all linked by a common, tragic thread: the isolation, devastation, and mental anguish that result from bullying in our schools and communities. Despite the increasing awareness of bullying and cyberbullying, crime prevention stakeholders continue to need resources that both combat the public perception that bullying is a rite of passage and address the inherent dissociation from the community and others that bullied individuals often exhibit.
On January 15, 2010, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., NCPC launched the Circle of Respect initiative, its latest and most comprehensive campaign to protect youth from bullying and cyberbullying. The campaign seeks to teach that bullying behavior is unacceptable through a positive, pro-social message that encourages respect and consideration for others. To promote its mission, the Circle of Respect features an education campaign, outreach materials (including publications and public service advertising), and partnership efforts to reach a national audience. The Circle of Respect's web site serves as the primary face of the initiative and includes resources for teens, young adults, and educators on relational crimes such as bullying, dating violence, and gangs.
In FY 2010, NCPC conducted a series of focus groups among children and teens from ages 8 to 17 years to facilitate discussions about respect and friendship and to obtain youth input on program messages and awareness of key issues. The National Press Club event highlighted new research on youth's views on respect and the roles adults play in modeling respectful behavior. The event also engaged well-known researchers and authors in discussions about bullying, cyberbullying, and respect for others.
NCPC partnered with YouTube and Saatchi & Saatchi to develop a new Internet resource titled "OceanKing97." This viral campaign showcases a powerful video demonstration of how quickly words can affect someone and how painful cyberbullying can be for young people. The subject of the video is purportedly a teen who is reciting a poem about his love of dolphins. Below the video, in a replica of a YouTube page, are a series of vicious comments. At one point in the video, the teen reaches through the video to rip a comment from the screen and remind viewers that online behavior has real consequences.
In 2010, NCPC also partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi to release a new bullying prevention tool entitled "Samantha's Choice." This 5-minute animated video follows the story of a young girl who is afraid to go to ballet class, for fear of being bullied. "Stop, Talk, & Walk" is the essential advice that McGruff® the Crime Dog shares with the young girl in the story.
National Children and Youth Safety Campaign
Every day, children and youth across the country are being victimized at alarming rates, committing crimes, or engaging in dangerous behaviors. Law enforcement officers, educators, school counselors, community leaders, and parents need age-appropriate resources and programs that educate and engage young people in preventing crime and violence while teaching them safe behaviors.
The National Children and Youth Safety Campaign is designed to educate children and youth to ensure their personal safety and engage them in service projects that facilitate their connection to the community and foster a sense of civic responsibility. This program provides tools and resources for parents, teachers, and school counselors to teach children and youth about safety skills and educate them about the consequences of cyberbullying from the perspectives of both victims and perpetrators. The program also works to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and crime prevention practitioners to engage parents in local crime prevention efforts.
In FY 2010, funding from BJA enabled NCPC to:
Celebrate Safe Communities
Given the recent tightening of state and local budgets, local law enforcement agencies need additional resources to mobilize communities and increase their capacities to prevent crime, maintain safe communities, and prepare for emergencies.
Celebrate Safe Communities (CSC) is an initiative of NCPC and BJA and was developed in partnership with NSA. BJA, NCPC, and NSA provided local law enforcement agencies with training, technical assistance, and promotional resources to convene CSC events. Since its inauguration in 2008, CSC has reached more than 250 sites across the country.
The goal of CSC is to serve as a resource to law enforcement agencies and communities that want to initiate or enhance community crime prevention and public safety events. CSC events are designed to spotlight community crime prevention efforts, enhance public awareness of vital crime prevention and safety messages, and recruit year-round support for ongoing prevention activities that help keep neighborhoods safe from crime and prepared for any emergency. This initiative helps local communities organize safety-focused events through free how-to documents and webinars. Promotional materials can be downloaded and customized for any community.
In 2010, CSC participation has significantly increased, with 251 sites participating in 146 cities in 39 states. The CSC web site received 45,200 hits.
Looking to the future, CSC plans to:
Campus public safety services vary greatly on the nation's college and university campuses. Campus law enforcement agencies can include full-service police departments (both armed and unarmed), private security operations, contractual services, and more. Campus police departments also vary greatly in how they relate to and share information with local and state public safety agencies.
While high-profile incidents like the 2007 Virginia Tech and 2008 Northern Illinois University shootings receive the attention of the media and government officials, this type of incident is actually the exception rather than the rule. Parents, students, and faculty deal with a variety of lower profile, but no less important, campus safety issues daily. These include:
BJA has worked with our partners in the field to develop a variety of valuable resources that address the diverse makeup of campus law enforcement departments and that will assist them in handling all forms of campus public safety concerns. Three campus safety-related projects funded by BJA in 2007 completed their work in FY 2010:
In FY 2010, BJA funded two new campus safety-related projects. For the first project, Margolis, Healy & Associates was awarded $250,000 for its project, "Best Practices for Campus Crime Prevention: Developing Evidence-Based, Modern Crime Prevention Strategies for Institutions of Higher Education." The project will use an inclusive, research-focused strategy to identify, evaluate, and replicate best and promising practices in modern evidence-based and age-appropriate crime prevention programming at institutions of higher education.
For the second project, the Johns Hopkins University was awarded $376,621 for the Establishing a Campus Public Safety Certification Program. This project addresses the lack of a nationally recognized professional public safety certification program that meets the unique needs and culture of campus public safety personnel. Although agency-centered accreditation programs exist (e.g., International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies), there has been none that certify individuals serving in the field. Through this project, the university will establish a certification model for campus public safety that takes into account the diversity of the profession and is practical, accessible, and sustainable.
Gang Resistance Education And Training Program
BJA's Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is a school-based classroom curriculum taught by law enforcement officers. It is intended to immunize youth against the lures of delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. Currently, 490 law enforcement agencies around the country teach the G.R.E.A.T. Program. G.R.E.A.T. lessons focus on providing life skills to students to help them avoid delinquent behavior, involvement in gangs and substance abuse, and the use of violence to solve problems.
The G.R.E.A.T. Program consists of four components: a 13-week middle school curriculum, a 6-week elementary school curriculum, a summer program, and a six-session training curriculum for families. G.R.E.A.T. differs from most efforts to reduce gang problems. While many programs are directed at active gang members and target high-risk youth, the G.R.E.A.T. Program is presented to various school-aged populations to prevent some of the risk factors that lead to gang involvement. Uniformed officers teach students to set positive goals, resist negative pressures, resolve conflicts, and understand how gangs affect the quality of their lives.
In FY 2010, funding from BJA enabled the G.R.E.A.T. Program to train 452 law enforcement professionals to teach the curriculum in elementary and middle schools. In addition, 131 law enforcement professionals were trained to facilitate the G.R.E.A.T. Families component. In FY 2010, a total of 233,726 students in 3,656 middle schools and 135,040 students in 2,056 elementary schools completed the program. Since the program's inception in 1991, more than 10,000 law enforcement officers and law enforcement professionals have been certified as G.R.E.A.T. instructors, and more than 5 million students have graduated from the G.R.E.A.T. Program.
Preventing Crime in the Black Community
For many urban African-American communities, crime rates and victimizations rates remain higher than the national average. Changing this pattern will require collaboration among law enforcement and other government agencies, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, schools, researchers, and African-American leaders.
The 25th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, held May 2629, 2010, in Orlando, Florida, was designed to foster collaboration, communication, and action among practitioners by sharing innovative ideas and research on the criminal justice system and the causative factors and prevention strategies unique to the African-American community. The Florida Office of the Attorney General, Florida Department of Legal Affairs, managed the grant and planned the conference, which attracted 1,350 participants. BJA provided stipends to enable law enforcement managers from urban high-crime areas to attend. The stipends supported travel expenses for150 law enforcement managers who would not otherwise have been able to attend.
In addition, BJA funded a pre-conference "Summit on Crime Prevention in Black Communities." This summit assembled a panel of criminal justice experts and community leaders from the national and state level whose goal was to identify top crime prevention issues facing African-American communities. The summit produced a report that will serve as the foundation for a larger summit in 2011 that will develop strategies, research agendas, and recommendations for implementation.