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.
JoAnn Miller, the academic partner for the Downtown Lafayette Weed and Seed community initiative, highlighted positive developments, including a 22 percent increase in drug-dealing arrests from 2006 to 2007, in the first progress report submitted to the Department of Justice.
Weed and Seed is a community-based approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization that creates an environment for agencies to work together weeding out local crime and planting seeds for crime prevention and neighborhood restoration. Lafayette received a five-year, $1 million grant from the Community Capacity Development Office at the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the Weed and Seed program in August 2007.
Neighborhoods also have started crime watch programs and have taken an active interest in the success of all Weed and Seed projects. Inviting after-school programs for elementary and middle school children are being planned at the Hanna Community Center, Trinity United Methodist Church, and YWCA, according to Miller.
The Weed and Seed program, within the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), aims to prevent and reduce violent crime in targeted neighborhoods, but it cannot optimize its effectiveness without sound management practices. In 1999, GAO made four recommendations to the Executive Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS) to improve the program’s management, including (1) developing adequate internal controls to fully document decisions, (2) improving program monitoring, (3) developing criteria for determining when sites have become self-sustaining and when to reduce or withdraw program funding, and (4) developing additional performance measures. GAO did this study to assess progress in implementing these recommendations.