Pittsburgh weed and seed program

Weed and Seed Evaluation.

Since 1991, Operation Weed and Seed has attempted to control violent crime, drug trafficking, and drug-related crime and to provide a safe environment for residents to live, work, and raise their families. Starting with three initial grant sites in Kansas City, Missouri; Trenton, New Jersey; and Omaha, Nebraska, Weed and Seed has grown to include 200 sites nationwide. The program strategically links concentrated and enhanced law enforcement efforts to identify, arrest, and prosecute violent offenders, drug traffickers, and other criminals operating in the target areas and community policing (weeding) with human services–including after-school, weekend, and summer youth activities; adult literacy classes; and parental counseling–and neighborhood revitalization efforts to prevent and deter further crime (seeding).

Recently, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) conducted a national evaluation of the program by selecting eight sites (Hartford, Connecticut; Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida; Shreveport, Louisiana; Las Vegas, Nevada; Akron, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Washington) that represented different aspects of Weed and Seed. While each site had its own distinctive crime problems, they all shared high rates of violent crime related to drug trafficking and drug use, and most had serious gang-related crime problems. The evaluation revealed some key findings.

* Preexisting community features–such as the strength of the social and institutional infrastructure (an established network of community-based organizations and community leaders), the severity of crime problems, geographical advantages favoring economic development, and transiency of the community population–may make the program easier or more difficult to operate effectively.

* The mix of weeding and seeding activities and the sequencing of these components–including early seeding, sustained weeding, high-level task forces combined with community policing, and an active prosecutorial role–represent important factors in gaining community support for the program.

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* Greater success occurred when sites concentrated their program resources on smaller population groups, especially if they also could channel other public funds and leverage private funds.

* Active and constructive leadership of key individuals represented a less tangible ingredient in the more successful programs.

* Implementation strategies that relied on bottom-up, participatory decision-making approaches, especially when combined with efforts to build capacity and partnership among local organizations, proved the most effective.

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National Evaluation of Weed and Seed: Pittsburgh Case Study Research Report

This case study documents the activities implemented under the Weed and Seed program in Pittsburgh and assesses the impact of this program, which was designed to control violent crime, drug trafficking, and drug-related crime in targeted high-crime neighborhoods and to provide safe settings free of crime and drug use.

Information for the evaluation was collected by means of onsite observations of program activities; personal interviews with program staff, police personnel, community leaders, service providers, and participants; a review of program documents; a survey of target area residents; and an analysis of computerized crime and arrest records provided by the local police agency. The Weed and Seed program served as a vehicle for organizing various Federal, State, and local initiatives. The program began in April 1992 at one site. A second Weed and Seed community was established in February 1996; the third community began Weed and Seed activities in March 1997. Activities included street-level drug law enforcement; prevention and intervention through health screening, services, and counseling for mental illness and drug abuse; academic courses; job training, job development, and small business development; summer youth jobs and community service projects; community organization and self-help initiatives; and others. Training has been an important component of the Pittsburgh approach to Weed and Seed. The evaluation data also indicated that Weed and Seed appears to have contributed to substantial short-term improvements in the target areas. These include reduced crime rates and improved perceptions of public safety, police responsiveness, and community quality of life. Findings also indicated that through the existence of a supportive setting and dedicated and talented leadership, the Weed and Seed philosophy should continue to thrive in Pittsburgh long after the termination of the Federal role. Figures, tables, and footnotes

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