Case Studies of Community Anti-Drug Efforts, Research in Brief by yyc14999


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National Institute of Justice                                                                                                           J US T I C E P

                          National Institute of Justice
                          Research in Brief
                                                                                                                   September 1994

                             Case Studies of Community
                                 Anti-Drug Efforts
                                by Saul N. Weingart, Francis X. Hartmann, and David Osborne

In response to the illicit drug trade that    reclaim their streets and parks from drug    drugs. Even a cursory review supports
became especially troublesome in the          traffickers. This Research in Brief exam-    the conclusion that these responses may
late 1980’s and early 1990’s, a remark-       ines a number of factors that gave rise to   represent an important asset in the Na-
able community anti-drug movement has         these community anti-drug efforts and        tion’s assault on drugs. If policymakers
formed, with groups becoming active in        sustained them over time.                    could better understand how to harness
some of the most afflicted neighbor-                                                       this community capacity, society could
                                              A literature search and 13 onsite case
hoods. Armed only with their courage                                                       unleash a potent vehicle for reclaiming
                                              studies revealed evidence of widespread
and imagination, citizens have devised a                                                   drug-plagued cities from the dealers and
                                              grassroots community responses to illicit
variety of clever strategies and tactics to                                                users who hold them hostage.

  Issues and Findings                         3 Policymakers need to appreciate and        3 Police play a particularly pivotal
  Discussed in the Brief: Case studies of     support community efforts focused pri-       role in citizens’ assault on drugs. Many
  13 grassroots community responses to        marily on drugs. Although some of            citizens initially regard the drug prob-
  illegal drugs in their neighborhoods.       these efforts were found to be fragile       lem as one of obtaining adequate police
                                              and tenuous, such informal associations      protection but, in general, partnerships
  Key issues: The wide variety of citizen     can be an effective and viable entity in     involving citizens, police, and other
  initiatives revealed by the case studies    combating drug problems.                     agencies provide useful strategies to
  showed how the groups assumed differ-                                                    combat drugs.
                                              3 Useful forms of citizen anti-drug ef-
  ent levels of responsibility, functioned
                                              forts have emerged in a variety of neigh-    3 To forge productive relationships
  within social networks, and were influ-
                                              borhoods, including those seriously          between police and citizens, police ex-
  enced by various leaders. Assessing the
                                              afflicted by crime and violence that         ecutives should actively support local
  success of their efforts involves deter-    were previously not considered likely        patrol officers in working with citizen
  mining improvement in the quality of        to engage in this form of community          groups. Police officers should be en-
  life in the neighborhood with respect to    action.                                      couraged to respond to all interested
  the drug trade.                                                                          citizens, even those who initially may
                                              3 Citizen drug fighters emerge from a
  Key findings:                                                                            be rancorous and complain, since these
                                              variety of backgrounds and experiences.
                                                                                           individuals often evolve into hard-
  3 Effective community anti-drug ef-         They need and appropriately use both
                                                                                           working partners with the police.
  forts show wide variations in institu-      conventional and unconventional re-
  tional robustness and in the breadth of     sources to meet their objectives.            Since no single community response to
  approach to drug problems. In general,                                                   drugs can be considered the best, re-
                                              3 Policymakers should consider care-
  the researchers recommend that citizens                                                  search should continue to identify
                                              fully the broad scope of help they can
  be encouraged and helped to address                                                      approaches that work best under spe-
                                              provide citizens, which ranges from fi-
  drug problems from a perspective                                                         cific conditions and in various neigh-
                                              nancial help to granting access to
  broader than that of drugs alone. In ad-                                                 borhood settings.
                                              decisionmakers, from providing a meet-
  dition, community efforts that provide a    ing room to offering technical assistance    Target audience: Policymakers at the
  comprehensive approach to drugs and         on organizing and implementing pro-          Federal, State, and local level; police
  crime are more likely to be sustained.      gram activities.                             officers; and community organizations.
By collecting detailed accounts of a         crime measures in general were elimi-          foundation of this analysis. While we
series of anti-drug initiatives, the study   nated from consideration.                      encourage reading each case in its en-
aimed to identify important features of      q   Citizen-driven rather than agency-         tirety, the summaries will familiarize
community groups that affect anti-drug       driven: Researchers eliminated groups          the reader with the activities discussed
efforts over time. Careful study of the      that were primarily vehicles of govern-        in the cases and will enable the reader
variables that are most critical to the      ment agencies, including police depart-        to understand the variety of community
initiation and maintenance of community      ments and housing authorities, since the       responses to drugs from which the con-
anti-drug efforts may help policymakers      literature on community anti-crime pro-        clusions have been drawn.
identify those interventions that work       grams already focuses on these kinds of
best to promote the success of neighbor-     efforts.
hood drug fighters.
                                                                                            Ad Hoc Group Against
                                             q  Variety of institutional affiliation: The   Crime, Kansas City, Missouri
                                             study sought some groups that were op-         Kansas City’s Ad Hoc Group Against
Case selection                               erated by and some that were affiliated        Crime was formed in 1977 after a meet-
and preparation                              with other organizations. These other or-
                                                                                            ing between angry members of the black
                                             ganizations included neighborhood asso-
Using several computerized newspaper                                                        community and police officials to dis-
                                             ciations, churches, and city governments.
and magazine indexes to identify articles                                                   cuss the police response to a series of
about neighborhoods and drugs, the           q  Length of time in existence: Groups         grisly homicides of young black women.
researchers collected 170 articles pub-      that had been active for at least 6 months     The meeting was organized by Alvin
lished between January 1986 and June         but not longer than 3 or 4 years were          Brooks, a former police officer who had
1990 that described 218 individuals or       sought, under the assumption that most         become an assistant city manager.
groups in 25 States and the District of      older groups lose some of their
                                             grassroots identities.                         While working as a city official, Brooks
Columbia that had planned or partici-
                                                                                            coordinated Ad Hoc, a loosely con-
pated in a grassroots anti-drug activity.    q  Size: A slight bias was developed to-       structed grassroots volunteer association
This list was augmented with entries         ward smaller groups, which tended not to       whose mission was handling police-
from directories of citizen anti-drug        have significant funding sources and pro-      community relations and fighting crime.
groups.1                                     fessional staff.                               But in 1985, the drug problem had begun
Selection criteria. Unlike other studies     q  Geographic location: The study              to overwhelm Kansas City, and Ad Hoc
of the effect of citizen action on crime,    sought geographic diversity by selecting       turned most of its attention to combating
this study selected only efforts that were   groups in different parts of the country       drugs. In addition to its existing activi-
citizen-initiated and citizen-controlled.    and different parts of cities (from impov-     ties, which included an anonymous wit-
The most important criterion was that        erished to more affluent sections) that        ness hotline and crime-tip reward
they be truly grassroots,2 voluntary op-     represented entire cities or one particular    program, Ad Hoc initiated anti-drug
erations. No initial presuppositions were    neighborhood.                                  marches, rallies, and drug-house
made about how many members a group          Other key variables came under consid-         “blitzes.” These activities, particularly
needed to have, how often it needed to       eration but did not serve as full-fledged      the blitzes, came to be supported by
meet, or the kinds and range of activities   criteria in narrowing the field.               police, insofar as they had an effect on
it needed to pursue.                                                                        their targeted areas. The activities also
                                             Census data were invaluable in helping         brought plaudits to the police, who regu-
The operating assumption was that the        to fill in the details of the neighborhood     larly appeared at Ad Hoc events.
unit of analysis in this project was the     demographic profiles that became an
citizen anti-drug “initiative”: a group of   important part of each of the community        The relationship between Ad Hoc and
individuals who joined together in an        anti-drug cases. Interviews were the           the Kansas City Police Department be-
activity oriented against drugs. Candi-      primary source of information; the num-        came close, in part a reflection of the
dates needed to meet one or more of the      ber of people interviewed for each case        dedication of the group to its cause, and
following criteria:                          varied but averaged 12.                        in part as a result of the close working
                                                                                            relationship between Brooks and the
q  Law enforcement, anti-drug ap-                                                           police department leadership. Ad Hoc
proach: Initiatives were sought that fo-
cused on suppressing drug dealing in         Summary of Case                                members also worked closely with police
                                                                                            and the district attorney to threaten land-
particular communities. Groups that          Studies                                        lords with civil forfeiture if they failed to
were primarily concerned with anti-
                                             The following summaries encapsulate            evict drug-dealing tenants.
                                             each of the 13 case studies3 that are the

Allerton Neighborhood                         community side of the equation. With           To keep the peace in the Zimmerman
Anti-Crime Committee,                         the help of the Citizens Committee for         Park area, the Allerton Anti-Crime Com-
the Bronx, New York                           New York City, NIDC organized the              mittee returned to its roots: sponsoring
                                              Allerton Anti-Crime Committee, an              events intended to bring people together.
When crack cocaine sellers overran the
                                              organization that tried to enlist Allerton     The police believed that significant
area in and around Zimmerman Park in
                                              residents in an effort to improve the          change would require citizens to take an
the Bronx neighborhood of Allerton, the
                                              neighborhood through education and             even more active role.
Neighborhood Initiatives Development
                                              community activities.
Corporation (NIDC), a tenants’ rights
and housing revitalization organization,      By 1990, the Anti-Crime Committee              Fairlawn Coalition,
responded by establishing a Task Force        began to tackle drug problems head-on.         Washington, D.C.
on Drugs. This task force brought to-         The situation in Zimmerman Park, the
                                                                                             When a cocaine market took over the
gether representatives of the community       heart of the neighborhood’s drug prob-
                                                                                             Washington, D.C., neighborhood of
and New York law enforcement to work          lem, called for drastic action. Some resi-
                                                                                             Fairlawn in the late 1980’s and police
on developing solutions to the problems       dents sought a 9:00 p.m. curfew in the
                                                                                             seemed unable to mitigate the situation,
related to the drug situation in the          park and others also wanted benches
                                                                                             residents responded by openly patrolling
neighborhood.                                 removed to prevent people from congre-
                                                                                             their streets, using novel tactics to drive
                                              gating. Although the police nominally
Although this enhanced communication                                                         the drug dealers out of the neighborhood.
                                              accepted the idea of a curfew, they could
between law enforcement agencies and
                                              not provide the level of enforcement to        An earlier experience with a police crime
the community netted a number of drug
                                              satisfy the most active community              watch program had taught Fairlawn
arrests, a larger effort was needed on the
                                              residents.                                     resident Edward Johnson two lessons:

 Historical Overview                          Second, innovative strategies flourished       shown to be more effective and able to
                                              in desolate and seemingly disorganized         maintain active support if they deal
 Citizen anti-drug initiatives first came     neighborhoods—neighborhoods charac-            with a variety of neighborhood prob-
 to the attention of the general public       terized by poverty and other disadvan-         lems as well as crime.6
 and to some policymakers through a           tages, with few apparent resources to
 collection of startling newspaper and                                                       Police researchers and police them-
                                              draw upon. These efforts took place in
 magazine articles. With dramatic head-                                                      selves have become increasingly aware
                                              neighborhoods with high levels of crime,
 lines like “Neighbors Fight to End                                                          of the importance of the community as
                                              violence, fear, and disorder.
 Drug Plague,” “Residents Fed up With                                                        a resource, especially within the con-
 Dope Dens, Prowlers,” and “Neigh-            Many researchers and community orga-           text of the community policing ap-
 bors’ Fury Shakes Drug Ring,” news           nizers believe that while crime may be         proach. This awareness stemmed in
 reports of citizen drug fighters have        an effective organizing issue, it has little   part from programs that demonstrated
 revealed a number of surprises.              value for sustaining citizen participation.    civic willingness to aid the police in
                                              Most believe that crime is a no-win is-        crime control and prevention.
 First, citizen activists deployed an array   sue, and few organizers would be willing
 of anti-drug tactics and strategies. In                                                     Another approach that contributed to
                                              to jeopardize their organization’s sur-
 addition to the block watch programs         vival by exclusively fighting crime.4          the idea that communities play a role in
 that law enforcement agencies have                                                          preventing crime was “crime preven-
                                              Because information about crime and
 promoted for many years, citizens de-                                                       tion through environmental design.” It
                                              crime prevention has often increased
 veloped a variety of creative responses                                                     is a strategy based on the concept that
                                              residents’ fear of crime and of one an-
 aimed at reestablishing control over                                                        the layout and the management of
                                              other, some prevention programs have
 their neighborhoods. These included                                                         buildings and neighborhoods can be
                                              had the paradoxical effect of decreasing
 marches, innovative use of video cam-        citizen participation in crime-ridden          changed to help citizens become more
 eras, street-corner vigils, public meet-     areas.5 As a result, many scholars and         secure in their environments and make
 ings, solidarity-building tactics, citizen                                                  potential offenders less likely or able to
                                              organizers believe that it is necessary for
 foot patrols, and demonstrations at                                                         commit criminal acts.7 Crime preven-
                                              a citizen anti-crime group to broaden its
 known drug houses. Other citizens                                                           tion through environmental design
                                              agenda if it is to mount an effective re-
 initiated new partnerships with police                                                      focuses on physical design in the con-
                                              sponse. Neighborhood groups involved
 departments, prosecutors’ offices, and                                                      text of the ways that residents think
                                              in crime prevention activities have been
 other city agencies to devise novel                                                         about and utilize the area in which they
 solutions to the illicit drug trade.                                                        live.

first, that citizens passively watching the   partnership could in fact improve the        perceived that police efforts in the neigh-
street from inside their homes did little     quality of life in the neighborhood.         borhood waned while drug trafficking
to deter crime in their neighborhood, and                                                  and related threats of violence continued.
second, but more important, that it was                                                    Intimidated relentlessly by drug dealers,
the community’s responsibility to help
                                              Hill Street Crime                            the Crime Watch leader left the group
the police. With this in mind, Johnson        Watch Committee,                             and moved his family out of the country.
began organizing neighbors to adopt a         Boston, Massachusetts                        Fear escalated among group members,
sense of personal responsibility for their    The Hill Street Crime Watch Committee        and the effort fell apart.
community, which in turn would moti-          was formed by residents of a troubled
vate police to take a stronger interest in    Boston neighborhood to help police           Philadelphia Anti-Drug
the community as well.                        crack down on the drug trade that was
                                              instilling fear and creating disorder        Coalition, Philadelphia,
Following a kickoff anti-drug rally, a                                                     Pennsylvania
                                              there. The area, which one narcotics
number of residents organized them-
                                              officer called “the worst section in the     The Philadelphia Anti-Drug Coalition
selves into nightly patrol groups to walk
                                              whole city,” was well known to police as     evolved from a number of disparate local
the streets of Fairlawn and act as a deter-
                                              a major center for drug dealing.             grassroots efforts against drugs. The
rent to drug trafficking. Wearing their
                                                                                           primary impetus for the coalition came
trademark bright orange hats, the mem-        Frustrated by conditions in her neighbor-
                                                                                           from a group called Mantua Against
bers of the Fairlawn Coalition first drove    hood, Hill Street resident Carmen Peralta
                                                                                           Drugs (MAD), the brainchild of a Uni-
drug dealers from their positions merely      called Christopher Hayes for help.
                                                                                           versity of Pennsylvania professor and an
by standing out on the streets with them,     Hayes, a civilian employee of the Boston
                                                                                           inner-city community activist. Russell
and later by bringing in video cameras,       Police Department who ran its Neighbor-
                                                                                           Ackoff, the professor, and Herman
still cameras, and the bright light of        hood Crime Watch Program, had already
                                                                                           Wrice, the activist, formed Mantua
publicity.                                    organized crime watch groups in about
                                                                                           Against Drugs with a handful of other
                                              100 Boston neighborhoods. After meet-
The local police district assigned a                                                       Mantua residents, after determining that
                                              ing with Peralta and other Hill Street
couple of officers to walk with the                                                        better communication would be needed
                                              residents and recognizing the extreme
group, initially as protection. Then, as                                                   in order to maximize efforts to rid the
                                              fear and danger present in the commu-
the police came to understand the dedi-                                                    city of a common enemy: drugs.
                                              nity, Hayes asked then Police Commis-
cation of the Coalition members, strong
                                              sioner Francis (Mickey) Roache to meet       Wrice began a dialog between the local
ties developed between the police and
                                              with the group. The meeting between          Philadelphia police district and the
the neighborhood. The two patrol offic-
                                              Roache and the Hill Street residents         Mantua Against Drugs members. Mean-
ers undertook creative problem-solving
                                              convinced the commissioner that drastic      while, Wrice and two MAD associates
efforts to decrease criminal activity in
                                              measures were needed.                        staged a raid on a crack house and, with
the neighborhood, setting up roadblocks,
                                                                                           the blessing of the police, boarded up the
tracking down outstanding warrants, and       To give the Hill Street neighborhood
                                                                                           building. They held an anti-drug rally a
even knocking on doors of known drug          high priority, the police department
                                                                                           week later. Other successes followed,
dealers and asking them how business          established a special drug task force for
                                                                                           and word began to spread throughout the
was. As the neighbors saw the commit-         that area. The Hill Street Crime Watch
                                                                                           city about activities in Mantua. Spinoff
ment of the police to the neighborhood,       members were asked to participate in the
                                                                                           groups began to form in other neighbor-
they in turn began providing more useful      drug reduction efforts by acting as infor-
                                                                                           hoods, and alliances were formed among
information to aid in investigations.         mants, providing police with information
                                                                                           these organizations.
Soon a full-fledged police-community          that could lead to arrests and abatement
partnership was in place.                     of the problem.                              Tactics varied from neighborhood to
                                                                                           neighborhood but generally revolved
But the backbone of the Fairlawn              However, after an intensive effort in the
                                                                                           around community vigils. These vigils,
Coalition’s efforts remained the nightly      area, the cooperation began to break
                                                                                           staged outside troublesome crack houses,
patrols. Through these patrols, residents     down. The task force was transferred
                                                                                           were a means to involve large numbers
felt safer walking the streets of their       from the local police district to the
                                                                                           of people from the community, and the
neighborhood. The commitment of the           department’s citywide Drug Control
                                                                                           vigils in turn empowered the community
Fairlawn Coalition to these patrols con-      Unit. The Hill Street Crime Watch Com-
                                                                                           to feel as though it could make progress
vinced police that a creative, fruitful       mittee members felt abandoned, as they
                                                                                           against drugs.

As the police became more comfortable         Kensington neighborhood. A representa-         When the extent of the drug trade grew
with working with MAD and other               tive of the Neighborhood Project met           intolerable, Johnson organized a meeting
spinoff groups and publicity about the        with Herman Wrice, the activist who had        of an existing neighborhood block group
various anti-drug efforts grew, interest in   formed the MAD organization. With              and other concerned residents. The new
a citywide anti-drug initiative increased.    MAD as the spark, the UNAD effort in           group, which members simply called
From this round of activity emerged the       Kensington was rekindled, using MAD            Block Watch, had a two-pronged agenda.
Philadelphia Anti-Drug Coalition, an          as its model.                                  First, they wanted to convince the police
umbrella organization that distributed                                                       to intensify the law enforcement re-
                                              Participants in this second UNAD effort
funds, resources, and information to                                                         sponse to the drugs. Second, Johnson
                                              again tried to enlist police help and pro-
smaller efforts against drugs.                                                               and her fellow Block Watchers pressed
                                              tection and, again, received support from
                                                                                             zoning officials to implement a new
                                              a new, sympathetic police captain,
                                                                                             nuisance ordinance that permitted the
United Neighbors                              Gerald Baker. In addition, UNAD suc-
                                                                                             eviction of drug-dealing tenants.
Against Drugs, Philadelphia,                  cessfully broadened its agenda, address-
Pennsylvania                                  ing not only the drug problem, but other,      Drug-related activity soon began to
                                              larger community issues.                       abate. Several months after Block Watch
In 1985, several years before MAD was
                                                                                             began, Johnson and her neighbors held
initiated, United Neighbors Against           UNAD members organized anti-drug
                                                                                             their last meeting, convinced that they
Drugs (UNAD) was formed in response           vigils and marches, educational meet-
                                                                                             had accomplished much of what they set
to growing drug-related problems in the       ings, trash cleanups, youth activities, and
                                                                                             out to do by improving the quality of
Norris Square area of Philadelphia. At        housing initiatives designed to address
                                                                                             police enforcement in the area and reduc-
that time, the heads of a handful of local    the problems of abandoned buildings in
                                                                                             ing the level of drug trafficking. (The
churches and social service agencies held     the area. These activities, combined with
                                                                                             police, on the other hand, felt that the
an anti-drug rally in Norris Square Park,     a much-improved relationship with the
                                                                                             role of the neighborhood group had not
the center of the neighborhood. Attempt-      local police district, had a positive effect
                                                                                             been as large as the community be-
ing to build on this success, the organiz-    on the community.
                                                                                             lieved.) Jan Johnson and her neighbors
ers of UNAD held a number of
                                              The specific anti-drug effort lasted little    then began to play a more active leader-
subsequent “little rallies” in local
                                              more than a year, and attendance at            ship role in a larger, existing neighbor-
churches, with the support and aid of the
                                              UNAD vigils and public meetings began          hood association.
Norris Square Neighborhood Project.
                                              to fall off. Captain Baker was transferred
At the same time, the Philadelphia police     out of the district, just as his predecessor
also contributed to the effort, adding a      had been a few years earlier. UNAD
                                                                                             REACH, Detroit, Michigan
number of patrol officers to the area. In     continues in the Norris Square and             Once a modest neighborhood of one- and
addition, relations between police and        Kensington neighborhoods, proud of its         two-family homes, Detroit’s Pilgrim
community groups and organizations in         past accomplishments and proceeding            Village was hit hard by the crack epi-
the area improved as the police increased     with more of a focus on neighborhood           demic of the mid-1980’s. Flourishing
their efforts to reach out to the commu-      rehabilitation.                                crack houses, shootings, break-ins, and
nity and keep it informed of police ac-                                                      other criminal activity became common-
tivities there.                                                                              place, driving many homeowners away.
                                              Whittier Block Watch,                          In the midst of this spiral of decay, the
However, the effects of the community’s       Denver, Colorado                               12th Street Baptist Church, led by Rever-
accomplishments soon faded. The drug                                                         end Lee A. Earl, undertook a number of
                                              Shortly after Jan Johnson and her family
dealers who had been driven from the                                                         activities to stabilize the community.
                                              moved into the Denver neighborhood of
park retaliated, violently assaulting two
                                              Whittier, they discovered that it was
UNAD leaders on several occasions                                                            Beginning in 1981, church collection
                                              rapidly deteriorating into a haven for
and harassing them on others. To make                                                        plate funds were used to buy one or two
                                              drug trafficking. Because she felt the
matters worse, a police captain who                                                          abandoned houses per year, to renovate
                                              police were not responding as effectively
had done valuable work for the commu-                                                        the structures with labor provided by
                                              as they might, Johnson and her neighbors
nity was transferred to another district.                                                    church members, and to sell the proper-
                                              mounted a persistent effort to document
By 1986, the initial UNAD effort dis-                                                        ties at a discount to needy members of
                                              and report suspicious activity in the
solved, mostly because of fear and                                                           the congregation or community. In 1986,
                                              neighborhood and to hold police and
disillusionment.                                                                             the church created REACH (Reach Ev-
                                              other city agencies accountable for the
                                                                                             eryone, Administer Care and Hope) as
Three years later, the drug situation had     condition of the neighborhood.
                                                                                             a separate entity, responsible for the
deteriorated badly in the nearby                                                             housing development program, a food

distribution program for low-income            headway. The police, like Sergeant J.W.       more and more people attending each,
residents, and a summer youth enrich-          Collins, who was assigned to Link Val-        the residents decided to go out into the
ment program. Other services were              ley, began to feel that a new strategy was    street as a group and simply stand near
gradually added, including a Narcotics         necessary. It would be two-pronged,           the dealers. The plan had immediate
Anonymous group, a day care center, a          focusing on the buyers rather than the        results: two dealers joined by a group of
teen recreation program, a senior citi-        dealers themselves and addressing the         these residents muttered, “Looks like
zens’ outreach program, and a commu-           physical decay that seemed to be contrib-     we’re not wanted,” and left.
nity development corporation.                  uting to the problems of the area.
                                                                                             The second night that this tactic was
REACH also organized a citizens’ anti-         The turning point was the murder of an        tried, drug dealers responded by mimick-
drug committee called the REACH Com-           elderly resident in 1988 in a neighbor-       ing the group’s tactics, bolstering their
munity Group in 1988. The group has            hood close to Link Valley and the arrest      number in an attempt to intimidate the
staged several spirited anti-drug demon-       of her assailants soon after in a Link        residents. When the residents failed to be
strations, including a “funeral” for crack,    Valley drug den. Representatives of nine      intimidated, none of the dealers returned.
and has sponsored neighborhood cleanup         neighborhood associations organized           The “Blockos,” a nickname allegedly
efforts.                                       themselves against drugs and formed the       coined by a disgruntled dealer, continued
                                               Stella Link Revitalization Coalition.         their street patrols, sending 10 to 15 men
By virtue of its close affiliation with the
                                               After meeting with police, the coalition      and women of all ages onto the neigh-
church, REACH reaped a number of
                                               soon became committed to the new po-          borhood streets to stand beside any deal-
benefits. It shared personnel and office
                                               lice strategy, offering to become an equal    ers they saw. They changed their hours
space. It benefited from Reverend Earl’s
                                               partner in cleaning up Link Valley.           as the drug dealers changed theirs.
reputation and his gift for public rela-
tions. Because it was established as a         With the support of superiors in the po-      The Blockos employed a wide range of
distinct, nonprofit organization, REACH        lice department and the collaboration of      resources. A graphic artist provided
was able to obtain separate liability in-      the coalition, Houston police cordoned        posters to announce the meeting. A
surance and to solicit and accept funds        off Link Valley to prevent drive-through      friend of a Blockos member persuaded
from government agencies, foundations,         drug buys and conducted a 100-officer         the New York Times to publish a story on
and corporations that would not have           sweep of abandoned buildings to look for      them. Through advertising connections,
donated funds directly to the church. In       squatters and drug traffickers. At the        Crane’s Weekly and Ad Week covered
its first 3 years as a separate entity,        same time, the coalition coordinated a        their story. TV stations also ran stories
REACH’s annual budget grew to                  massive cleanup of the area, picking up       on the group. Two or three members who
$450,000.                                      trash, cutting down weeds, and hauling        were not employed devoted time to orga-
                                               out garbage. Coalition members also           nizing and maintaining interest in the
                                               worked with city agencies to facilitate       group. The group also received assis-
Stella Link Revitalization                     the enforcement of health and housing         tance from the Manhattan District
Coalition, Houston, Texas                      ordinances. As a result of these efforts—     Attorney’s Office.
Link Valley, once a comfortable neigh-         keeping drug customers away and mak-
                                                                                             Their operation was soon successful;
borhood in the heart of Houston, had           ing drug dealing less convenient—the
                                                                                             dealers were pushed farther downtown.
become an open-air, drive-through drug         Link Valley cocaine market vanished.
                                                                                             As the dealers’ territory shifted, the
bazaar. Only 1 out of 10 available resi-
                                                                                             Blockos were joined by the 29th Street
dential units was occupied, and the aban-
                                               The Blockos, Manhattan,                       Block Association, expanding the area of
doned units, broken fences, litter, and
disrepair made the area a convenient           New York                                      operation. Although the group no longer
                                                                                             conducts its nightly patrols, it has the
location for drug dealers and, in the eyes     During the first half of 1989, street-level
                                                                                             capacity to revive and respond effec-
of the police, a dangerous site. In addi-      drug dealing entered the middle-class
                                                                                             tively should the need arise.
tion, Link Valley offered easy access for      neighborhood of 30th Street between
drug users. It was close to a highway,         Park and Lexington Avenues in Manhat-
allowing consumers to drive in from            tan. About 15 residents met with a police     210 Stanton, Manhattan,
other areas, make a purchase, and leave        department Community Affairs Officer          New York
quickly.                                       to see what could be done. The police,
                                                                                             On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, 210
                                               the officer said, already were stretched
Police efforts to control the rising tide of                                                 Stanton is the address of a building that
                                               too thin and residents could do little else
drugs in the area had not achieved the                                                       in 1985 became the headquarters of a
                                               except call 911 if they saw street dealing.
hoped-for impact. Arrests, though sub-                                                       major drug selling operation. Buyers
                                               After holding a few more meetings, with
stantial in number, did not make any                                                         lined the hallways and prostitutes came

in to buy drugs, scaring tenants away
from mobilizing the tenants’ association       Community Anti-Drug Tactics
to protect themselves.                         An organization’s strategy sets out the      evening events in which small groups
One resident, Marie Christopher, con-          broad guiding principles that define the     of residents searched the neighbor-
tacted Felice Kirby, a community activist      approach to a problem. An organi-            hood for signs of the drug trade
with the Citizens Committee for New            zation’s tactics, in contrast, are the set   (Washington, D.C.)—and street-cor-
York City, a nonprofit organization that       of particular activities that define the     ner vigils (Philadelphia). In this study,
                                               strategy in operational terms and bring      the vigil served as a particularly ap-
provides training to police and commu-
                                               it to life. Citizen drug fighters have       propriate instrument to combat drug
nity groups to help them coordinate anti-
                                               invented, adopted, or adapted a remark-      dealing in well-established locations,
crime strategies. Together with Sergeant
                                               able battery of anti-drug tactics to their   while the patrol seemed better suited
Michael Walsh, a police department             own needs.                                   to a mobile and fluid drug trade.
Community Patrol Officer, they devised
a strategy to evict the dealer.                Grass roots vigilance. In many neigh-        Advocacy on behalf of the neighbor-
                                               borhoods, citizens collect information       hood. A third tactic involved citizens
Community Patrol Officers guarded the          about the neighborhood drug market in        approaching the authorities—usually
entrances to the building, requiring all       a systematic, organized, and detailed        the police—to help them combat drug
visitors to sign in. If they were headed to    fashion and then communicate the             trafficking in the neighborhood (see
the apartment where the drug dealing           information to the police department.        “Quality of Relationship With the
originated, officers accompanied them,         Information exchange is often an infor-      Police”). In addition, citizen drug
on the pretext that the building was in-       mal process. Citizen drug fighters in        fighters in many locations sought to
fested with drug dealers.                      almost half of the groups in these case      influence the behavior of city agen-
                                               studies met regularly with police offic-     cies. UNAD activists in Philadelphia,
Meanwhile, Christopher organized the           ers to discuss the drug problem in the       wearing their white hardhats and T-
residents’ response. She persuaded the         neighborhood and to convey informa-          shirts, encouraged greater judicial
building manager to file a site complaint      tion about drug dealing.8 In addition,       accountability by attending court
in Housing Court against the dealer on         citizens organized formal crime-report-      proceedings for suspected neighbor-
behalf of the building’s management            ing schemes, which included block            hood drug dealers. Stella Link Revi-
corporation. Christopher then asked the        watch programs (Denver, Boston, and          talization Coalition members pres-
Manhattan District Attorney’s Commu-           Kansas City)9 and hotlines (Kansas           sured Houston landlords and govern-
nity Affairs Unit to help advise residents     City).                                       ment agencies to secure or tear down
on ways to build a better case against                                                      abandoned or unsafe Link Valley
                                               Establishing a presence on the street.
“problem” residents. Information pro-                                                       buildings. The activists facilitated this
                                               A second tactic was to take an open,
vided by residents helped solidify the                                                      process by identifying the title holders
                                               public stand against the traffickers.
case against the apartment where most of                                                    of Link Valley properties. Members of
                                               This included crack house raids (Kan-
                                                                                            the Denver Block Watch reported
the drug dealing took place; search war-       sas City and Philadelphia), raids and
                                                                                            excessive noise, overcrowding, and
rants were issued, charges were filed,         marches, citizen patrols—regular
                                                                                            truant children to city offices.
and the resident convicted. In his wake, a
revitalized tenants’ association emerged,
working to improve the quality of life for    dealers to leave. The dealers called the      apartment building arrests drew a sympa-
the building’s residents.                     police, who arrested the five Muslims         thetic response from media covering the
                                              and charged them with felony weapons          event, and favorable coverage continued
At-Taqua Mosque, Brooklyn,                    possession.                                   once the strategy began. After the police
New York                                      Undaunted, Iman Ibrahim Bilal met with
                                                                                            “swept” the area of drug dealers, the
                                                                                            Muslims followed with 40 days of pa-
Late in 1988, 2 years after crack deal-       79th Precinct police and proposed a
                                                                                            trols, using walkie-talkies to connect
ers invaded the Bedford-Stuyvesant            strategy to end the drug dealing that
                                                                                            patrol groups on the blocks surrounding
neighborhood, members of At-Taqua             plagued the neighborhood. Police would
                                                                                            the mosque.
Mosque decided to take their Brooklyn         conduct a drug sweep, which would be
community back from the dealers. They         followed by 40 days of Muslim patrols to      The effort was successful. Dealers fled
soon targeted a nearby apartment build-       take back the neighborhood. The police        from the area. Perhaps more important,
ing that hosted a number of drug dealers.     agreed to the plan.                           relations between the Muslims and the
Armed with martial arts weapons, five                                                       police grew strong, based on their posi-
                                              The members of the At-Taqua Mosque
mosque members, including the Iman,                                                         tive interaction in designing and imple-
                                              also had the media on their side. The
entered the building and ordered the                                                        menting the strategy.

Umma, Brooklyn, New York                       Citizen responsibility                        the market and force sellers to take their
Five Muslims who were concerned about          The hallmark of the “new” citizen drug-       goods elsewhere.
the level of crime in their North              fighting initiatives is the shift in the      This created opportunities for citizens to
Flatbush, Brooklyn, community founded          locus of responsibility for dealing with      participate in the Link Valley operation.
Umma, a diverse grassroots initiative          the drug problem away from the formal,        Since physical decay was a problem,
seeking to reduce crime and improve the        constituted authority of the police depart-   citizens organized a cleanup. They iden-
quality of life for residents of that neigh-   ment to the citizens themselves. For          tified owners of Link Valley properties.
borhood. Led by Ed Powell, the organi-         example, the Fairlawn (Washington,            They worked with a variety of city agen-
zation initiated two-man patrols to break      D.C.) group came to the conclusion that       cies, including health, sanitation, and
up sidewalk dice-shooting, reduce the          “the only solution was us.... If we wasn’t    housing, in order to bring rundown
volume on blaring radios, walk children        [sic] willing to pay the price to save us,”   buildings up to code. As the operation
to and from school, and report burglaries      no one else would either. In Houston, the     took shape, a sharp division of labor
and drug sales to police. Umma—which           Stella Link Revitalization Coalition was      emerged between the roles of citizens
means “community” in Arabic and                the first group that one city employee        and police. Citizens did not patrol the
Swahili—has some 100 members, repre-           had seen take the position: “We will do       streets or establish street-corner vigils
senting the diverse ethnic and religious       this together, and what can we do as a        but participated with city agencies as
makeup of North Flatbush.                      part of this?” Citizens in Fairlawn and       planners and as behind-the-scenes facili-
                                               Stella Link, as well as the Philadelphia-     tators. By limiting vehicular access to
Umma has sought to improve relations
                                               based Mantua, were willing to do more         Link Valley and advising motorists that
between the community and the police,
                                               than complain; they insisted on sharing       they were entering a high-crime area,
working closely with police to develop a
                                               responsibility for solving the drug           police were able to close down the drug
neighborhood crime hotline, as well as
                                               problem.                                      market completely.
short- and long-term anti-drug strategies
for the 70th Precinct. By cultivating this     In contrast, Boston’s Hill Street Crime
relationship and serving as a link be-         Watch Committee and Boston Police             Citizen action in the face of
tween the community and police, Umma           Department officials confirmed and            danger and fear
has helped the rest of the community to        validated citizens’ conventional defini-
                                               tion of the problem facing their Hill         Indirect evidence about drug dealers’
become more accepting of the police.
                                               Street neighborhood: there was                willingness to make and carry out threats
The police, in turn, have come to trust
                                               insufficient police presence to suppress      of violence emerged from the case stud-
Umma members and credit them with
                                               the drug trade. By defining the problem       ies. The level of violence is important
improving the quality of life in the
                                               as an undersupply of police services and      because it translates into the ambient
                                               the solution as a commitment of police        level of fear in the neighborhood. Some
                                               resources, the citizen role was minor.        drug markets create so much fear in the
                                                                                             community that the residents’ ability to
Case Study Analysis                            Citizens should “lay low” and report
                                                                                             mount a community response is severely
                                               crime, and police should do the rest.
This wide variety of citizen initiatives                                                     compromised, as it was on Boston’s Hill
reveals that different factors characterize    The Stella Link Revitalization                Street. Other markets may engender
the groups’ formation, operations, and         Coalition’s story illustrates how redefini-   some fear among residents, but do not
successes. The study analyzed the ways         tion of the problem can inform the            have such a chilling effect on citizen
the groups demonstrated various levels         choice of strategy and in turn yield sub-     action. In the Washington, D.C., and the
of citizen responsibility and approaches       stantial improvements in solving neigh-       two Philadelphia case studies, citizens
to dealing with fear and danger, and how       borhood drug problems. As in Hill             took to the streets in their effort to fight
they responded to different types of           Street, the dominant strategy had been to     drugs, placing themselves in a most
leaders, functioned within social net-         focus on arresting drug criminals. In         vulnerable position.
works, related to other neighborhood           Houston, when residents saw there were
institutions, and expanded their roles         always more arrests to make, the prob-        The behavior of drug dealers in the
                                               lem was redefined, this time from an          Washington and Philadelphia neighbor-
beyond eliminating drug traffickers from
                                               economic perspective. Since markets are       hoods seems quite different from the
their neighborhoods. How these factors
                                               driven by consumer demand, they rea-          behavior of dealers in Boston. The idea
apply to defining the success of a citizen
                                               soned, reducing demand should dry up          that neighborhood drug markets differ
initiative was then explored.
                                                                                             significantly from one another is consis-

tent with what has been reported in the        Observing, recording, and reporting           another neighborhood, the visitors were
small number of participant-observer           crime to the police from the relative         in less danger of retaliation.
studies that describe the life of young        safety of their own homes seemed to
                                                                                             Avoiding confrontation. In Washing-
men who trade drugs on inner-city              offer a reasonable measure of comfort to
                                                                                             ton, D.C.’s, Fairlawn area, the citizen
streets. 10 At present, however, there is      neighborhood crime watchers on
                                                                                             group decided not to invite the Guardian
not enough information to determine            Boston’s Hill Street, and in other cities
                                                                                             Angels or Nation of Islam into the neigh-
whether the vulnerability of a drug mar-       (such as Denver and Kansas City) that
                                                                                             borhood because they feared that these
ket to citizen intervention is due to the      used this tactic. However, collaborative
                                                                                             groups’ aggressive tactics could escalate
way the market is organized or to the          police advice to members of the Hill
                                                                                             into violence. Instead, they included men
efficacy of a particular citizen anti-drug     Street Crime Watch Committee to “lay
                                                                                             and women aged 40 and above in their
initiative.                                    low” in the face of danger resulted even-
                                                                                             nightly patrols to create a presence on
                                               tually in the demise of citizens’ efforts.
Achieving visibility and building                                                            the street but to pose no threat to the
                                               In these kinds of cases, significant exter-
strength in numbers. The more partici-                                                       physical well-being of dealers. As a
                                               nal resources, often in the form of police
pants that organizers could rally together                                                   result, the Fairlawn patrols provoked no
                                               presence, may be necessary to permit
for a particular event, the less likely that                                                 retaliation.
                                               citizen groups to participate, especially
drug traffickers would risk an attack. At
                                               to participate overtly.                       Rapid communication and assistance.
the same time, an enormous public turn-
                                                                                             In Fairlawn, citizens also used walkie-
out communicated a message to both the         Police protection. Having the support
                                                                                             talkies to ensure rapid, two-way commu-
law-abiding citizens and the drug dealers      and cooperation of the police department
                                                                                             nication on the street. Furthermore, by
that residents could still control the         has been seen to embolden citizens. In
                                                                                             stationing one citizen at home with a
neighborhood. Organizers in the Bronx          Philadelphia’s Norris Square neighbor-
                                                                                             walkie-talkie, mobile patrols could
staged a “Unity Day” in Zimmerman              hood, UNAD members inadvertently
                                                                                             readily relay information to the police.
Park that attracted many residents.            elicited police participation by planning
                                                                                             Patrols would transmit their observations
REACH organizers held a series of              a rally in a dangerous area. When the
                                                                                             over the radio, and the individual at
spirited public rallies in their Detroit       police captain realized that the citizens
                                                                                             home would telephone the information
neighborhood. Fairlawn activists in            were intent on marching regardless of his
                                                                                             immediately to the police department.
Washington held a rally and march early        misgivings, he set up a search light on
on. And organizers in Philadelphia’s           top of a building for UNAD’s first vigil.
Mantua and Norris Square neighbor-             It served as a potent symbol of the police    Types of Leaders
hoods held regular rallies and marches         department’s intention to expose drug
                                                                                             Two groups of individuals played leader-
before each vigil began. Even a rela-          criminals to the light of justice, support
                                                                                             ship roles. The first group was composed
tively small gathering of neighborhood         for the efforts of citizen anti-drug activ-
                                                                                             of neighborhood residents who decided
residents seems to mitigate the fear of        ists, and commitment to protect citizen
                                                                                             to do something to address the drug
retaliation if the residents can manage        drug fighters from harm (especially from
                                                                                             problem. The second comprised profes-
to attract the news media, especially          rooftop snipers).
                                                                                             sional community organizers, individuals
                                               Drug fighter exchange programs. But           who did not necessarily live in the com-
Keeping a low profile. On the other            fearing that continued street vigils and      munity but who provided advice, inspira-
hand, because prominent citizen anti-          other somewhat confrontational anti-          tion, and resources to the group.
drug activists become ready targets for        drug tactics would expose them to retri-      Individuals who assumed positions of
disgruntled drug dealers, citizen activists    bution by local drug retailers, members       leadership in the neighborhood anti-drug
in several communities tried to conceal        of various groups within the Philadelphia     effort were usually citizen-activists
their anti-drug activities. In the Bronx,      Anti-Drug Coalition (such as MAD and          rather than professional organizers. In
for example, the early members of the          UNAD) took turns participating in vigils      Washington, D.C., two of the Fairlawn
Allerton Anti-Drug Committee decided           in neighborhoods outside their own.           leaders had been active in a number of
to recruit additional members by reach-        These “exchange programs” provided            voluntary organizations such as the PTA
ing out only to close acquaintances. A         nearby neighborhoods with additional          and Boy Scouts.
low-key, informal recruitment strategy,        participants and an injection of enthusi-
                                                                                             The situation was similar in other cities.
Citizens Committee consultants sug-            asm and also helped to reduce the dan-
                                                                                             Although none of the organizers of
gested, would be less apt to attract atten-    ger. Since local dealers were less likely
                                                                                             Boston’s Hill Street Crime Watch Com-
tion than a public campaign.                   to recognize a vigil-keeper who lived in
                                                                                             mittee had previously belonged to orga-

nizations that fought drugs or crime,          social group from the citizens who            church can play a significant role in
several principal players had the combi-       agreed to participate. The nightly patrols,   fostering the work of citizen activists by
nation of interpersonal skills and work or     each begun with a prayer, and the barbe-      providing them with facilities and mate-
volunteer experience that equipped them        cues, picnics, and parties forged a du-       rials, staff time, free publicity from the
to become leaders. A neighborhood that         rable camaraderie that included the           Sunday pulpit, and a credibility they
to some observers may seem deficient in        police officers who patrolled the neigh-      might not otherwise have. “If you have
human resources may have a ready store         borhood as well as the citizens. In socio-    preachers involved, you have access to a
of able individuals with leadership tal-       logical terms, the “purposive incentives”     lot of people who will be getting infor-
ents that have developed in a different        associated with stifling the drug trade       mation from some very credible sources,
context.                                       were initially augmented and subse-           people they respect,” according to Rever-
                                               quently transformed into “solidarity          end Floyd J. Naters-Gamarra of
While nonprofessional citizen-activists
                                               incentives”; i.e., collegial feelings for     Philadelphia’s Norris Square.
played leadership roles in Houston, Bos-
                                               one another.11 This transformation may
ton, Washington, and Denver, profes-
                                               account for the difference in character
sional community organizers exercised
                                               between anti-drug groups like Fairlawn’s
                                                                                             Political clout
leadership in other sites. Herman Wrice                                                      Anti-drug organizations can become a
                                               and many of the traditional crime pre-
and Sister Carol Keck in Philadelphia, Al                                                    large or important constituency that
                                               vention activities that social scientists
Brooks in Kansas City, Danny Bakewell                                                        decisionmakers cannot ignore. In addi-
                                               have examined.12
in Los Angeles, Chris Hayes in Boston,                                                       tion to the number of citizens who par-
and Andrew Laiosa in New York are                                                            ticipate in an anti-drug initiative, the
examples of professionals who played           Role of neighborhood                          group’s influence is also a function of
important roles in citizen anti-drug initia-   institutions                                  the reputation and credibility of the par-
tives. While the nonprofessional activists                                                   ticipants, their degree of organization,
                                               Although individual citizens have started
described above served as anti-drug                                                          the sophistication of their strategies, and
                                               drug-fighting groups with little or no
organizers on nights and weekends, some                                                      their ability to draw media attention.
                                               outside assistance, standing neighbor-
professionals’ full-time paid occupations
                                               hood institutions often play an important
were those of community organizers.                                                          For example, in Houston, since the
                                               role in establishing new groups. They are
                                                                                             Stella Link Revitalization Coalition
                                               almost always a major part of the sup-
                                                                                             represented 6,000 homes, it could muster
Effect of social networks                      porting network that is generated. In
                                                                                             considerable political clout. Size alone
                                               some cases, a standing institution will
Existing social networks often serve as                                                      commanded respect from the city coun-
                                               create an anti-drug initiative to address a
the nucleus for the formation of anti-                                                       cilman, the assistant police chief, and
                                               problem or need that the institution’s
drug efforts. Organizers begin with                                                          city health and housing officials who
                                               leaders have identified. Subsequently,
friends and neighbors, expressing con-                                                       agreed to meet with coalition
                                               the anti-drug initiative may spin off and
cern about neighborhood problems and                                                         representatives.
                                               become a separate entity.
sharing ideas about plausible solutions.
                                                                                             Kansas City’s Ad Hoc Group Against
The groups then begin to organize for-         Several cases illustrated how an anti-
                                                                                             Crime was also able to develop sufficient
mally and to reach out for additional          drug initiative can evolve from an exist-
                                                                                             clout to wield independent influence
participants. The Fairlawn Coalition,          ing neighborhood institution. In Kansas
                                                                                             over the city government. Ad Hoc is
however, is an example of an anti-drug         City, the anti-drug committee, estab-
                                                                                             distinct among the study groups in that it
effort that created and then solidified        lished in 1985, grew out of the earlier Ad
                                                                                             was, from the beginning, a citywide
relationships that did not necessarily         Hoc, established 8 years earlier. In the
                                                                                             organization without allegiance to a
predate the anti-drug initiative. Early        Allerton area of the Bronx, the Anti-
                                                                                             specific area. It was formed after politi-
organizers contacted the minister at the       Crime Committee was created in 1989
                                                                                             cal leaders asked the assistant city man-
Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church,           from the NIDC established in 1982. And
                                                                                             ager to meet with leaders of the city’s
who helped plan a community rally and          in Link Valley, the Stella Link Revital-
                                                                                             black community. This request must
march. The coalition announced the rally       ization Coalition emerged from existing
                                                                                             have reflected the politicians’ judgment
and march with hand-lettered flyers and        neighborhood institutions.
                                                                                             about the level of tension in the minority
invitations to ministers, representatives
                                               Churches were the significant neighbor-       community following the murder of
of city organizations, and other leaders in
                                               hood institution in several groups:           several young black women. Ad Hoc
the Washington area.
                                               REACH in Detroit, Fairlawn in Wash-           quickly became an established institu-
An outstanding feature of the Fairlawn         ington, D.C., and UNAD and MAD in             tion. Its activities were well known in the
Coalition was the creation of a cohesive       Philadelphia. The sponsorship of a local      community through fundraising on

Quality of Relationship With the Police
The case studies present ample evi-        ments will see past the heat of confronta-    helped the police dramatically increase
dence that the police response to citi-    tion to seize the moment.                     the number of arrests. Although the
zens’ efforts profoundly affects the                                                     police response was a genuine effort to
character and success of the venture.      Building a relationship                       assist, they retained total control over
The quality of the relationship be-                                                      the planning and execution of the en-
                                           One of the critical features in the devel-
tween police and citizens is a decisive                                                  hanced enforcement effort.
                                           opment of a productive relationship
factor in determining the course and       between police and community is the           Police officials rated the Hill Street
character of the community response        establishment of contact with a senior        neighborhood as a high priority be-
to drugs.                                  police official who is willing to take the    cause of the severity of the problem
                                           citizens’ group seriously and to work         (drug trafficking, gangs, and violence).
Early confrontations                                                                     They focused less on the nature of the
                                           with it. A single receptive police official
With few exceptions, citizen drug          can have a profound effect on the devel-      solution (competent partners at the
                                                                                         grass roots). In other words, police
fighters complained bitterly about the     opment of a community response to
                                                                                         involvement in Boston derived from an
amount and quality of the police ser-      drugs, as shown by the contributions of
                                                                                         overall law enforcement strategy for
vices that they received early on. Drug    officers like Captain Beheler and Ser-
                                                                                         the city and the need to respond to
dealers swamped the neighborhood,          geant Collins, in Fairlawn and Link Val-      problem areas, but to do so in the tradi-
many seemed to say, because the            ley, respectively. Yet, no department had     tional way. The police response in-
police were ineffective in keeping         a formal protocol for dealing with citizen    cluded but was not based on close
them out. These sentiments led to          anti-drug groups, or a policing philoso-      relations with the residents, shared
confrontational meetings between           phy that encouraged officers to be re-        aspirations for a neighborhood, and
citizens and police in Philadelphia,       sponsible for promoting and nurturing         personal commitments. (By contrast,
Denver, Boston, Kansas City, and           citizen efforts. The officers developed       the Houston police were heavily in-
Washington.                                the relationships not because of their        volved in the Link Valley anti-drug
                                           department’s philosophy and organiza-         effort and did not use arrests as a major
In Kansas City, the mayor and a mem-       tion, but despite it.                         means to solve problems.) Thus, when
ber of the city council called a meet-
                                                                                         the police special task force was trans-
ing between the police and black lead-     Hazards of conventional policing              ferred from the Boston neighborhood,
ers in the wake of the murders of a                                                      the community’s relationship with the
number of young black women. The           Aggressive law enforcement remains a
                                           crucial prerequisite to citizen action in     police reverted to the status quo ante,
meeting, planned as a session for 100                                                    as citizens’ former misgivings about
representatives of the black commu-        many of the most disorganized neighbor-
                                           hoods, but this approach, which involves      the commitment of the police and their
nity, became a contentious public                                                        trustworthiness reemerged.
                                           traditional law enforcement, is often
forum where angry residents con-
                                           insufficient. The Boston case is a com-       The residents might well have asked:
fronted police and city officials.
                                           pelling example of what can happen            How could everyone do the right thing
Unfortunately for the police, demands      when police employ traditional strategies     with so little to show for it? The an-
for better service are one of the earli-   in their interactions with citizen drug       swer may have something to do with
est and most consistent responses in       fighters without using community re-          the “enforcement-resistant” character
the citizens’ repertoire. The police, if   sources to maximum effect.                    of the drug market on Hill Street. But it
they are to meet the needs of the com-     In Boston’s Hill Street neighborhood,         also implicates the police strategy,
munities they are charged to serve and     then Police Commissioner Roache re-           which could have more fully exploited
protect, must have the professionalism     sponded to citizen complaints with the        the creative solutions that the citizens
that enables them to see community         traditional response of establishing a        have the potential to deliver. The Bos-
anger as an opportunity to address         three-person special task force to break      ton cases illustrate the need for law
problems of drugs and crime. They          the back of the drug trade. Here, the         enforcement to leverage, not replace,
may find it counterproductive to inter-    priorities of the police drove citizens’      citizen initiative. When the police use
pret such anger as a rejection of the      behavior: The residents learned how to        conventional responses, they often
                                           provide detailed, reliable, and rapidly       assign citizens to narrow and limited
role of the police or to take it as a
                                           executed reports to police officers, often    roles and thus reduce the likelihood
personal affront. Anger is rather a
                                           dialing into a telephone beeper carried       that those citizens will invent novel
reaching out on the part of the com-                                                     tactics or participate in innovative
munity, and responsible police depart-     by the patrol sergeant. These measures

black-owned radio stations and through        Neighborhood improvement. Since               Fairlawn Coalition, the Blockos would
the programs it organized. The mayor          physical deterioration of a neighborhood      stop, stand, and stare at the traffickers
helped to raise funds on behalf of Ad         can create an environment conducive to        until they moved along. Within a short
Hoc, and the assistant city manager con-      drug trafficking, citizen drug fighters       time, the dealers had left the neighbor-
tinued his leadership role.                   responded with efforts to remove trash,       hood and the Blockos decided to end
                                              “dress up” the street, and promote rede-      their patrols. A similar sequence of
                                              velopment. During MAD-sponsored               events took place in Denver’s Whittier
Services to the community                     vigils in Philadelphia, participants          neighborhood, where the Block Watch
Citizens organized a variety of activities    brought garbage bags to clean up street       was so successful, in the view of its
to prevent drug abuse, assist crime           corners where drugs were regularly sold.      members, that it went out of business
victims, and improve the physical             Stella Link Revitalization Coalition          within seven months of its establishment.
environment.                                  participants in Houston filled 10 semi-       The fact that these efforts did not result
Prevention programs. Citizen groups           trailer-size dumpsters with 250 cubic         in the creation of durable institutions
organized an extensive array of drug          yards of trash on a single Saturday.          does not make them failures.
prevention programs directed primarily        REACH sponsored flower planting and
                                                                                            Despite general agreement among orga-
to neighborhood youths. These programs        curb painting and initiated an ambitious
                                                                                            nizers and researchers that anti-drug
included initiatives that emphasized drug     effort to renovate abandoned houses in
                                                                                            efforts addressing a variety of related
education, employment, counseling, and        the neighborhood.
                                                                                            problems from a more comprehensive
recreation. The Philadelphia Anti-Drug                                                      perspective are more desirable, citizens
Coalition organized a summer youth            Defining effectiveness                        do not always aspire to create robust and
olympics. Detroit’s REACH organized a                                                       long-lasting institutions. Citizens have
                                              Longevity and political clout. The
youth basketball association. Kansas                                                        other interests and activities that compete
                                              success of an anti-drug effort—size,
City’s Ad Hoc Group created a program                                                       with their commitment to fighting drugs.
                                              political clout, longevity, and the desire
in which adult volunteers taught young                                                      To expect that grassroots citizen anti-
                                              and capacity to take a comprehensive
people about the realities of prison and                                                    drug initiatives must develop into large,
                                              approach to neighborhood quality of life
the criminal justice system; Ad Hoc                                                         well-integrated organizations seems
                                              issues—enhances the possibility of im-
activists also ran a counseling program                                                     inappropriate. Furthermore, the Blockos
                                              pact. An anti-drug effort that reaches this
for first-time juvenile offenders. The                                                      and the Whittier Crime Watch left an
                                              stage of institutionalization can carry out
Allerton Anti-Crime Committee in the                                                        important legacy: the latent capacity for
                                              a systematic assessment of interrelated
Bronx sponsored basketball tournaments                                                      mobilization of a citizens’ response if
                                              neighborhood problems and of resources
and dance contests for neighborhood                                                         one should be required in the future.
                                              available, marshal a broad array of re-
kids, organized an anti-drug play for
                                              sources, develop opportunities for em-        Objective measures. A second approach
teenagers, and brought a drug education
                                              ploying various tactics, and promote a        to defining the success of an anti-drug
program to a local school.
                                              comprehensive response to local drug          initiative is its impact on the level of
Some programs also served adults. For         problems. Almost any neighborhood             drug dealing in the community. This
example, both REACH and the Allerton          would be substantially aided by having        perspective relies on objective measures
Anti-Crime Committee set up Narcotics         such assets at its disposal.                  of effectiveness rather than on an assess-
Anonymous groups. The Allerton group                                                        ment of the group’s viability as an orga-
                                              Nevertheless, since most neighborhoods
also distributed fliers that listed treat-                                                  nization. A successful anti-drug
                                              do not and will not develop large and
ment programs for drug addicts.                                                             initiative, in this view, yields significant,
                                              well-organized anti-drug initiatives,
Victim assistance. Kansas City’s Ad           measuring a community response to             measurable, and relatively long-lasting
Hoc Group developed a set of victim           drugs in these organizational terms alone     reductions in the level of neighborhood
assistance programs as part of its broad      is unsatisfactory. The most striking          drug trafficking.
anti-crime mission. They included the         counter example is the case of the            The cases documented measures of suc-
organization of volunteers to install locks   Blockos in Manhattan. In order to dis-        cess that, despite being empirically
for elderly citizens who had been victim-     courage street-corner drug traffickers        based, are tenuous. The Stella Link Revi-
ized, a counseling program for victims of     who had moved into the neighborhood,          talization Coalition and the Houston
sexual assault, a program to help resolve     Blocko members began to patrol the            Police Department together reduced Link
family disputes, and an effort to pay the     streets of their neighborhood on weekend      Valley calls for police service by 44
expenses incurred by crime witnesses          evenings from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.          percent, and serious crime in surround-
when they testify in court.                   Like members of the Washington, D.C.,         ing neighborhoods fell by as much as 12

percent. In the Fairlawn neighborhood of      Effective community anti-drug efforts       Dormancy can represent a state of readi-
Washington, serious crime dropped 20          show wide variations in institutional       ness, in which the community capacity
percent between 1988 and 1989, corre-         robustness and in the breadth of ap-        for drug fighting exists but is not cur-
sponding with the Fairlawn Coalition’s        proach to drug problems. Those that are     rently mobilized.
anti-drug activities. These examples,         able to develop and operate from institu-
                                                                                            Recommendations. Police officials
however, do not form a sufficient empiri-     tional strength, see drug problems from a
                                                                                            and representatives of other organi-
cal basis from which conclusions can be       variety of perspectives, have access to a
                                                                                            zations that fight drugs can easily
drawn.                                        spectrum of resources, and connect re-
                                                                                            overlook a viable community anti-
                                              sponses to broader neighborhood quality
Since statistical information is often                                                      drug initiative if they do not know
                                              of life issues seem more likely to main-
inconclusive or unavailable, evaluators                                                     what to look for. Community anti-
                                              tain citizen cohesiveness around other
used another measure of success: the                                                        drug efforts are rarely organized as
                                              issues. However, not every community
accomplishment of specific objectives.                                                      large, nonprofit institutions with
                                              will have the desire or capacity to oper-
For example, the Kansas City Ad Hoc                                                         offices, officers, and budgets. If
                                              ate from this broader perspective.
Group’s “close-a-drug-house-month”                                                          policymakers seek out only well-
campaign in February 1989 logged 600            Recommendations: Citizens who               established organizations, they will
telephone calls in identifying 217 sus-         are involved in community anti-             underestimate the informal capac-
pected drug houses; 25 drug houses were         drug efforts should be encouraged           ity for drug fighting that exists in
closed during this 1-month campaign.            and helped to address drug prob-            neighborhoods. Several Federal
                                                lems from a perspective broader             programs have approached estab-
Different objectives can mean differ-
                                                than that of drugs alone. This type         lished community organizations
ences in what constitutes citizens’ as-
                                                of perspective allows the develop-          exclusively.13 Future programs
sessments of success. The objective of
                                                ment of a variety of mutually sup-          must reach deeper into the commu-
completely cleansing a neighborhood of
                                                porting strategies. Encouraging it          nity to provide assistance to the
drug trafficking may not seem realistic
                                                also allows citizens to think more          smallest and most unstructured
(or even necessary) from the citizens’
                                                inclusively about what resources            associations.
point of view. For example, in Denver,
                                                (among them those of private and
community activists felt that the drug                                                      In order to reach down into the
                                                public agencies) might be avail-
problem had been largely solved, even                                                       community, government agencies
                                                able. Still, even anti-drug efforts
though two crack houses continued to                                                        should begin to cultivate working
                                                whose activists are unable or un-
operate in the area.                                                                        relationships with institutions that
                                                willing to move beyond a primary
                                                                                            are located closer to the grassroots.
A successful community response to              focus on drug problems should be
                                                                                            Community foundations, churches,
drugs should be large enough and last           encouraged to do what they are
                                                                                            and neighborhood service provid-
long enough to improve the quality of           able and willing to do.
                                                                                            ers are among the institutions that
life in the neighborhood with respect to
                                              Community anti-drug efforts that are          could serve as intermediaries be-
the drug trade. It need not obliterate all
                                              specifically and primarily focused on         tween government agencies and
signs of drug trafficking, and it need not
                                              drugs are fragile and tenuous.                local anti-drug groups.14
result in the establishment of lasting
                                              Policymakers must recognize this quality
institutions. The initiative could wax and                                                Citizen drug fighters emerge from a
                                              and learn to appreciate and approach
wane, or it could lay dormant for a time.                                                 variety of backgrounds and experiences.
                                              these efforts on their own terms. Rather
Some recognizable outcome is necessary                                                    Some of these individuals have previous
                                              than robust, durable, and well-estab-
for the activity to count as a success, but                                               professional experience battling commu-
                                              lished corporate entities, community
the effect may be modest.                                                                 nity problems, while others are con-
                                              anti-drug groups are often small, infor-
                                                                                          cerned citizens who simply have had
                                              mal associations. Groups like
                                                                                          enough of the effects of the drug prob-
Implications and                              Manhattan’s Blockos or Denver’s Block
                                              Watch stayed in existence only long
                                                                                          lem on their neighborhood. Community
Recommendations                               enough to achieve their objectives. Oth-
                                                                                          institutions also step forward to provide
                                                                                          some unexpected or unanticipated re-
                                              ers, like Philadelphia’s United Neighbors
Several implications can be drawn from                                                    sources. Citizen drug fighters need and
                                              Against Drugs, have had dormant peri-
the analysis of the cases, and recommen-                                                  will use a considerable variety of uncon-
                                              ods, either as a result of their own suc-
dations for policymakers can be offered.                                                  ventional resources. Institutions like
                                              cess or because their members were
                                                                                          churches, philanthropic organizations,
                                              intimidated by threats and violence.

and neighborhood development corpora-          and disorder, they seem like natural         best under what conditions. If we can
tions offer the citizen anti-drug initiative   allies. However, the relationship of the     evaluate community drug-fighting efforts
financial resources, in-kind services, and     two is not always without problems.          and assess the kinds of interventions that
moral support. Professional organizers         Many citizens’ groups regard the drug        work best in particular drug markets,
act as catalyst, liaison, facilitator, and     problem as one of inadequate police          then we can offer concrete, practical
cheerleader.                                   protection. And it is true that only the     advice to citizens, police officials, and
                                               police have the power to initially act in    policymakers for the most effective strat-
   Recommendations. Policymakers
                                               neighborhood situations in which the         egy to defeat drugs neighborhood by
   not only must recognize citizen
                                               threat of violence is strong and persis-     neighborhood.
   drug fighters but should consider
                                               tent. But a conventional law enforcement
   carefully the kind of help they
                                               approach, in which police retain all the
   need. While financial support is
                                               power and responsibility for fighting
   always useful, citizen drug fighters                                                     1. These directories were identified by the
                                               drugs and crime, is likely to undermine
   require other resources as well. In                                                      Neighborhood Crime Prevention Center, the
                                               citizen initiative and contribute to the
   many cases, being taken seriously                                                        Office of National Drug Control Policy, the
                                               persistence of drugs in the neighborhood.    1000 Points of Light award program, the
   by the police and other public
                                               Shared responsibility for community          Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Fighting
   officials makes a dramatic differ-
                                               security is essential.                       Back Program, the Federal Office of Sub-
   ence in citizens’ morale and in                                                          stance Abuse Prevention, the Vera Institute
   their willingness to participate. By           Recommendations. In order for             of Justice, and the Citizens Committee for
   sharing responsibility with citizens,          citizens and police to forge more         New York City.
   by granting them access to senior              productive relationships, police          2. “Grassroots” means originating among or
   decisionmakers, and by providing               executives must be willing to sup-        carried on by the common people. Webster’s
   citizens with feedback on the im-              port the initiative of local com-         Unabridged New Twentieth Century Dictio-
   pact of their activities, officials            manders who go out on a limb to           nary of the English Language, 1980.
   encourage additional participation.            help citizen drug fighters. Senior        3. Six of the case studies discussed here were
                                                  police officials must find better         prepared by Harvey Simon, a professional
   Access to telephones, photocopi-
                                                  ways to manage the relationship           casewriter with Harvard University’s
   ers, and meeting rooms facilitates                                                       Kennedy School Case Program: “Kansas
                                                  with citizen drug fighters than
   citizens’ ability to organize a cam-                                                     City and the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime,”
                                                  some appear to have done in the
   paign. To the extent that financial                                                      Case C16–91–1023.0; “Curfew at Nine: A
                                                  cases documented here. Further-           Bronx Neighborhood Looks for Solutions,”
   resources are available to promote
                                                  more, police officials must be            Case C16–91–1088.0; “The Orange Hats of
   citizen drug-fighting initiatives, a
                                                  willing to recognize and to deal          Fairlawn: A Washington, D.C., Neighbor-
   little bit can go a long way. Dis-                                                       hood Battles Drugs,” Case C16–91–1034.0;
                                                  honestly and fairly with even those
   tinctive T-shirts, caps and hard                                                         “Neighborhood Crime Watch in Boston,”
                                                  rancorous citizens who initially
   hats, portable two-way radios, and                                                       Case C16–91–1039.0; “United Neighbors
                                                  may complain bitterly that the            Against Drugs,” Case C16–91–1094.0; “A
   other “tools of the trade” may
                                                  police are the source of their            Denver Neighborhood Tackles Crack,” Case
   enhance the safety of citizens on
                                                  troubles. Irate citizens often evolve     C16–91–1063.0. All were published in 1991.
   patrol and on vigil and promote
                                                  into the most valuable and hard-          Three case studies were prepared by other
   camaraderie. Funds for advice
                                                  working partners that any police          Kennedy School casewriters for a 1990 NIJ-
   about organizing and technical
                                                  department could want.                    sponsored pilot study of community re-
   assistance can be a sound invest-
                                                                                            sponses to drugs: Lundberg, Kristen, “The
   ment if the professionals know the                                                       Philadelphia Anti-Drug Coalition,” Case
   neighborhood well, have experi-             Conclusion                                   C16–90–937.0; Kates, Nancy D., “REACH:
   ence and a commitment to anti-              Because there is no single community
                                                                                            Fighting Crack and Crime in Pilgrim Village,
   drug organizing, and are well                                                            Detroit,” Case C16–90–936.0; and Kennedy,
                                               response to drugs but rather a variety of    David M., “Fighting the Drug Trade in Link
   positioned in the community or in           responses, it is important to appreciate     Valley,” Case C16–90–935.0.
   the government to facilitate citizen        and cultivate variability and innovation.
   access to decisionmakers.                                                                The remaining four case studies were pre-
                                               Perhaps different citizen initiatives have   pared by Susan A. Powers of the Vera Insti-
Of the resources that citizens’ groups         evolved to address different problems in     tute of Justice and are included in
utilize in their assault on drugs, the         different environments. Before specify-      “Community Response to Drugs,” Working
police play a particularly pivotal role.       ing one or several model programs, it is     Paper 090–01–20, Program in Criminal
                                               essential first to initiate a program of     Justice.
Because citizens and police share a com-
mon interest in reducing crime, drugs,         research that can identify what works

4. Skogan, Wesley G., Disorder and Decline:     10. Fields, Allen B., “Slinging Weed: The
Crime and the Spiral of Decay in American       Social Organization of Streetcorner Mari-         Francis X. Hartmann is Executive Direc-
Neighborhoods, New York: Free Press,            juana Sales,” Urban Life, Vol. 13, Nos. 2–3,      tor and Senior Research Fellow with the
1990:140.                                       October 1984:247–270. See also Reuter,            Program in Criminal Justice Policy and
                                                Peter, “Money From Crime,” RAND Corpo-            Management at Harvard University’s
5. For a more comprehensive review of these     ration Report, Santa Monica, California, July     John F. Kennedy School of Government.
complex phenomena, see Skogan, Wesley G.,       1990.                                             Saul N. Weingart, a Research Fellow
“Communities, Crime, and Neighborhood                                                             with the Program, is now a physician at
Organization,” Crime and Delinquency, Vol.      11. Wilson, James Q., Political Organiza-         Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. David
35, No. 3, July 1989:437–457; and Skogan,       tions, New York: Basic Books, 1973.               Osborne, Research Assistant with the
Wesley G., “Community Organizations and                                                           Program, is now Special Assistant to the
Crime,” in Michael Tonry and Norval             12. Heinzelmann, Fred, “Promoting Citizen
                                                                                                  Director, Office for Victims of Crime,
Morris, eds., Crime and Justice, Chicago:       Involvement in Crime Prevention and Con-
                                                                                                  U.S. Department of Justice.
University of Chicago Press, 1988:39–78.        trol,” in Neil D. Weinstein, Taking Care:
                                                Understanding and Encouraging Self-               The research for the study was funded by
6. Skogan, Wesley G., et al., “The Reactions    Protective Behavior, New York: Cambridge          the National Institute of Justice, Office
to Crime Project: Executive Summary,”           University Press, 1987:254–279;                   of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Jus-       Rosenbaum, Dennis P., ed., Community              Justice, grant 90–IJ–CX–0033.
tice, 1982; see also Yin, R. et al., “Citizen   Crime Prevention: Does It Work?, Beverly
Patrol Projects,” Washington, D.C.: U.S.        Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1986.
                                                                                                Findings and conclusions of the research
Department of Justice, 1977.
                                                13. The U.S. Department of Health and           reported here are those of the authors and do
7. Newman, Oscar, Defensible Spaces: Crime      Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse       not necessarily reflect the official position or
Prevention Through Urban Design, New            Prevention, operates a large grant program      policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
York: Macmillan, 1972.                          for drug abuse prevention that requires sub-
                                                stantial coordination at the local level but     The National Institute of Justice is a compo-
8. The neighborhoods with regular, informal     makes no explicit provision for participation    nent of the Office of Justice Programs, which
contact with the police included Fairlawn       by grassroots neighborhood groups. The           also includes the Bureau of Justice Assist-
(Fairlawn Coalition), Mantua (Mantua            National Institute of Justice awarded a grant    ance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of
Against Drugs, or MAD), Philadelphia’s          to the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Cen-        Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Preven-
Norris Square (United Neighbors Against         ter to fund several existing community orga-     tion, and the Office for Victims of Crime.
Drugs), Kansas City (Ad Hoc Group), and         nizations that proposed to become involved
the Bronx (Allerton Anti-Crime Committee).      in anti-drug campaigns.
9. Block watch programs have been dis-                                                          NCJ 149316
                                                14. Mayer, Steven E., and David M. Scheie,
cussed in the literature for many years. See    Supporting Low Income Neighborhood Orga-
for example, Rosenbaum, Dennis P., “The         nizations: A Guide for Community Founda-
Theory and Research Behind Neighborhood         tions, Minneapolis: Rainbow Research, 1989.
Watch: Is It a Sound Fear and Crime Reduc-
tion Strategy?” Crime and Delinquency, Vol.
33, No. 1, January 1987:103–134.


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