New from COPS
The High Point Drug Market Intervention Strategy
Drug markets are the scourge of too many communities in the United States. They destroy neighborhoods, a sense of community, and the quality of life. They contribute to crime, shootings, prostitution, assaults, robbery, and have a negative effect on local businesses and residential property values. Police raids of drug markets and the arrest and jailing of drug dealers alone has not eliminated the problem. Drug dealers eventually return to the neighborhood, quickly putting drug markets back in business. Exasperated by the problem, the High Point, North Carolina, Police Department tried a different tactic and, to the surprise of many, succeeded in eliminating the notorious West End drug market.
The department began by framing a different approach to the problem. Working with a multiagency team, efforts were focused on eliminating overt drug markets throughout the city and addressing key crime problems associated with them: homicide, gun assault, and other serious violence; sexual assault; prostitution; drive-through drug buyers; and broad community quality-of-life concerns. The operational plan addressed individual drug markets in a larger citywide enterprise that directly engaged drug dealers and their families. The plan created clear, predictable sanctions against drug dealers; offered a range of services to help offenders; and focused family and community standards against drug dealing on known drug offenders.
The police first implemented the strategy in May 2004 against a flagrant drug market in the city’s West End neighborhood and subsequently applied the strategy in three additional markets across the city. Over the next 3 years, overt drug activity in High Point was almost entirely eliminated. The city has documented a continuous reduction of 30 percent in violent crime and drug crime in the target areas and an overall citywide reduction of serious crime of around 20 percent. After studying the successes in High Point, other cities across the country have used similar strategies with similar levels of success.
This publication, by David Kennedy and Sue-Lin Wong, tells the compelling story of High Point and also looks at the success of one of the replication sites, Providence, Rhode Island, which implemented a similar strategy in 2005 with the help of the National Urban League and support from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. It is available in both hardcopy and electronic format at http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail.aspx?RID=533.
Don’t miss the interview with High Point Police Chief James Fealy also in this issue!