NC Network for Safe Communities was tasked with creating a survey for distribution at the 2015 North Carolina Gang Investigator’s Conference and Gang Free North Carolina Academy. 394 law enforcement and community resource partners participated in the survey representing nearly every county in NC. Main findings were that:
- All types of gangs are present and active in NC communities, though local neighborhood crews were the most commonly reported. 68% of respondents reported that gang membership in their community has increased over the past two years, while 26% of respondents reported that gang membership has stayed the same.
- When asked about the most violent group in their community, national-level street groups were most often identified, as mentioned by 49% of respondents. Local crews were identified as the most violent group type by 45% of respondents. These local neighborhood groups are prevalent, active, and often violent in communities, meaning they need the same level of LE and resource attention as more organized, hierarchical national-level gangs.’
- Respondents revealed that gangs are present in schools in 74% of communities. Of those communities with a gang presence in schools, 25% reported gangs are present in elementary schools, 78% reported gangs are present in middle/junior high schools, and 80% reported gangs are present in high schools.
- 1.3% of respondents reported an increase in their community in international terrorist groups, 26% have seen an increase in Sovereign groups, and 13% have seen an increase in hate-motivated group activity.
- Gangs are using social media readily. 76% of LE respondents were aware of gangs using social media to communicate with one another. 51% of LE respondents stated that their agency frequently integrates social media for gang investigations. 18% rarely or never do.
- Several barriers to gang member arrest and/or conviction were identified. The most common barrier was lack of victim/witness cooperation due to fear of retaliation, codes about not snitching, and the fact that many witnesess/victims are often involved in criminal activity themselves. Many respondents mentioned overburdened systems as barriers.
- The most common services respondents reported providing to gang-involved individuals were often youth-oriented, including pro-social activities, after-school programs, and positive alternatives. Employment services and vocational training were also commonly mentioned. Unfortunately, 38% of all respondents, regardless of agency type, reported that they rarely feel they have the resources needed to address gang-related issues.
- A PDF of preliminary findings can be accessed here: NCGIA Survey Report Preliminary Findings
The NCNSC team was interviewed by reporter, John Buntin, of Governing Magazine about the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative in High Point. The article, published in March 2016, highlights High Point’s success in reducing domestic violence offenses and recidivism through the focused deterrence strategy. Additionally, Lexington, NC has replicated the strategy and experienced success in combating the problem of intimate partner domestic violence.
NCNSC’s John Weil was quoted in the article about the mindset needed for other agencies to replicate the initiative: “The operational piece of this is very complex and requires quite a bit of commitment and attention to detail. You can’t drop any particular piece and have this be effective.” Communities seeking to replicate the initiative must be mindful that there are many moving pieces to the strategy and every partner involved in domestic violence cases has to agree to commit to the partnership and the common goal of reducing domestic violence and addressing gaps in systems and processes that have allowed domestic violence offenders to skate through the criminal justice system with impunity. Additionally, partners must agree that the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative is a new way of doing business. As Weil states, “People bring a program mentality to this, but they are not programs. There is no beginning and no end.” All partners must stay committed and be accountable to the larger initiative to do their part. If any one piece fails, the entire strategy will fail.
For NCNSC’s full evaluation and replication report funded by COPS, click here: COPS OFDVI Lexington – High Point Evaluation – FINAL.
An article in the Blue Ridge Times was published which highlights the NC Network’s evaluation and expertise about the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative in High Point, NC. Henderson, NC among other sites across the state and country are eager to learn more about the strategy and its potential success in reducing domestic violence recidivism. Last week, the NC Network’s John Weil and Stacy Sechrist presented along with Chief Kepley, Captain Rummage, and Lt. Carter from Lexington (NC) Police Department about the strategy as it is being implemented there. The presentation took place at the 3rd Innovations in Domestic and Sexual Violence Research and Practice Conference which was hosted by the Center for Women’s Health and Wellness at the University of NC at Greensboro.
In Lexington, notified offender recidivism rates are averaging about 8.8% across notification types since the initiative began in July 2014. In addition to lowering recidivism rates for intimate partner domestic violence, the strategy has worked to bring together professionals across disciplines who are working with domestic violence offenders, victims, and families across systems to collaborate on solving problems and alleviating barriers that generally exist in dealing with domestic violence. The system is now coming together to address domestic violence offenders in novel ways to demonstrate the partnership’s commitment to swift, certain, and severe consequences for domestic violence offenses. Lt. Carter who works daily in the operations of the strategy in Lexington was able to share real-world experiences and examples of how the system has changed and worked together to show domestic violence offenders a new approach that they have not seen before. The offenders are getting the message that Lexington Police Department and its partners are taking domestic violence very seriously. And, victims are reaping the benefits.
For a copy of the presentation in partnership with the Lexington Police Department, please click Innovations 2015 Conference Presentation NCNSC and LPD.
Sites throughout NC are taking a closer look at how to take domestic violence more seriously from a legal standpoint. Lexington is replicating High Point’s Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative and they began C- and D-list offender notifications on July 1, 2014. Thus far, 83 domestic violence offenders have been notified by the Lexington Police Department that the violence will no longer be tolerated. Offenders are told that they are now on a watch list for domestic violence offenders and that future offending will be met with swift, severe, and certain consequences. From now on the Police Department will focus attention on the offenders to change their behavior and it is no longer the victim’s responsibility to get out of the situation. Of those offenders who have been notified, only 10% have picked up an additional domestic violence charge after notification. In fact, the majority of offenders who have been notified aren’t picking up any charges after notification, domestic or otherwise.
Word about the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative in Lexington is spreading quickly among the offender population. Bonds for domestic violence offenders are being set higher, prosecutors are working diligently to use levers to increase charges and potential associated punishments against domestic violence offenders, and there is now a bi-weekly working group that meets to discuss ongoing domestic cases and address gaps in the systems and processes surrounding how the community deals with domestic violence.
NC Network for Safe Communities is participating in the bi-weekly meetings to document the replication process as it unfolds in Lexington and is working with the Lexington Police Department to track data and evaluate the results of the effort.
The following link goes to a WRAL news segment on how cultural and legal changes will be important to addressing domestic violence in NC: http://www.wral.com/ending-abuse-requires-legal-cultural-change/13992581/
Our partners with Project Safe Rockingham County recently reported a 20% decrease in armed robberies, which were up slightly a year ago. By using data to drive the focused deterrence strategy and direct it toward offenders known to be engaged in armed robbery in Rockingham County, the County has successfully lowered the number of armed robberies occurring in the County. In addition, armed robberies are one of four violent offenses reported in the State Bureau of Investigation’s violent crime index. Since focused deterrence work began in Rockingham County in 2010 in partnership with the North Carolina Network for Safe Communities, the County has experienced a nearly 20% reduction in violent crime. Project Safe Rockingham County has an advisory board with representatives from each of the six local law enforcement agencies in the county, the district attorney’s office, and members of the community who meet regularly to discuss the strategy. The site coordinator, Guilio Dattero, oversees the day-to-day operations behind the strategy. Project Safe Rockingham County has become an exceptional model of how to implement and sustain the focused deterrence strategy in the State of North Carolina and has done an outstanding job showcasing the outcomes of the effort through media outlets.
The full article written about the Project Safe Rockingham County initiative can be found here: Sept 2014 PSRC article.