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Tale of Two Targets: Limitations of Community Anticrime Actions

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1994
26 pages
The author contends that crime prevention activities of community-based organizations (CBO's) attack symptoms instead of causes and that CBO's attempt to apply the limited technique of organizing on a block or neighborhood basis against targets that do not have the structural means of responding to such pressures.
The ineffectiveness of community crime prevention efforts has been well-documented. Block, neighborhood, and community organizations are difficult to form and maintain, and membership rarely exceeds a small fraction of the total number of residents. Both nominal and active members tend to be dominated by homeowners and by white residents in racially mixed areas. Despite the lack of tangible results, Neighborhood Watch and community organizing continue to be promoted as the community-based answer to the crime problem. Further, community organizing is a key feature of the community policing movement. The author believes community organizing and participation should be understood in terms meaningful to community residents but should not equate crime symptoms with crime causes. One possible approach is to divert community-based efforts into long-term interaction with public and private agencies that have the power to rebuild a community's infrastructure. Ultimately, effective crime control requires the successful reintegration of neglected inner city areas into the larger community. 62 references and 16 notes

Date Published: January 1, 1994