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Back to Archives | Back to September 2005 Contents 

Sustaining Crime Prevention and Community Outreach Programs

By The IACP Crime Prevention Committee

Since September 11, 2001, homeland security issues have been law enforcement’s main focus. Proper and rapid response to terrorist acts moved to the forefront of everyone’s thinking, and federal funding focused on the equipment and tools needed to respond to possible terrorist tragedies.

But with the passing of time, another view of the important role of law enforcement has been gaining ground. As stated in the recent IACP publication From Hometown Security to Homeland Security, “It is the IACP’s belief that as a result of their daily efforts to combat crime and violence, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers are uniquely situated to identify, investigate, and apprehend suspected terrorists. This central truth has been demonstrated on numerous occasions. Incidents such as the pre-attack traffic stops of September 11 hijackers Muhammad Atta, Ziad Samir Jarrah, and Hani Hanjour demonstrate that local law enforcement officers may encounter suspected terrorists in the course of their routine duties, while the arrests of individuals such as Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph highlight the often critical role that local law enforcement officers play in the apprehension of terrorists.”1

Because of the special relationship and daily contact with their communities, local law enforcement agencies are perfectly poised to provide the link between hometown and homeland security. Local agencies that engage in regular community outreach and crime prevention activities have an important established relationship with the community in place already. This relationship is key to stronger links with the community, and the development of partnerships with the citizenry.

Unfortunately, many of the resources that facilitated outreach and crime prevention programs in communities have been significantly reduced. These reductions in funding have severely curtained the ability of many agencies to conduct community outreach activities, thereby reducing their ability to combat both crime and terrorism.
Despite dwindling resources, agencies continue to be resourceful when reaching out to engage their communities and establish them as strong partners in both crime control and homeland security. Following are examples of law enforcement agencies that have maintained or increased their presence in the community and their partnership with the citizens they serve.

1 International Association of Chiefs of Police, “From Hometown Security to Homeland Security: IACP’s Principles for a Locally Designed and Nationally Coordinated Homeland Security Strategy,” July 1, 2005; available at (


How to Reach the Crime Prevention Committee

Community-based crime prevention programs require strong, visionary, and committed leadership. Engaging the community with the police department is the surest way to empower and enable citizens with an active role in crime prevention initiatives. When combined with the strategic mobilization of the community, the end result is an effective crime prevention community designed to take full advantage of the strengths of all participating partners.
The IACP Crime Prevention Committee encourages all police agencies to anchor crime prevention into the departmental organizational philosophy and policy. The committee also encourages IACP members to share their concerns, questions, and success stories with the committee by writing to Elizabeth Currier, staff liaison to the committee, at (


From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 9, September 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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