Operation Weed and Seed
Operation Weed and Seed is a community-based initiative administered jointly by the Community Capacity Development Office within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Attorneys’ Office. Weed and Seed encompasses a comprehensive multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization.
In the District of Columbia, Operation Weed and Seed is foremost a strategy aimed to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in three high crime neighborhoods in the District.
The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) serves as the fiscal agent for the District of Columbia Weed and Seed program. Through an interagency agreement, CSOSA ensures fiscal accountability and that funds are expended as approved by the Department of Justice.
The Weed and Seed partnership is a multi-level strategic plan that includes four basic components:
- Law enforcement - suppression, apprehension, prosecution and supervision in targeted communities.
- Community policing - collaboration between law enforcement officers and residents to mobilize community support and involvement.
- Prevention, Intervention and Treatment - comprehensive delivery of social and other support services including mentoring, truancy reduction, ex-offender reentry programming and substance abuse counseling.
- Neighborhood restoration - improving quality of life in distressed, low-income areas through economic development, enhanced social services, public works, job opportunities, and improved access to affordable housing.
There are currently three officially recognized and funded Weed and Seed sites in the District of Columbia: (1) the Northwest Site, which overlaps Wards 1 and 4, and encompasses communities in the 3rd and 4th Police Districts; (2) the Frederick Douglass Memorial Site, which is located in Ward 8, and encompasses communities in the 7th Police District; and (3) the Far Northeast Corridor Site, which is located in Ward 7, and encompasses communities in the 6th Police District.
Beginning in late 2009, CSOSA will provide programming at several sites as part of the “weed” strategy. The program will target high risk offenders who are reentering the community after incarceration, or who are already under community supervision, and reside in a Weed and Seed site. In addition to regular supervision monitoring, drug testing, and referrals for services, CSOSA will provide cognitive-behavioral therapy, family support groups, and aftercare groups to support the successful reintegration of these offenders into the community.
Weed and Seed partners include:
- The East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership
- The Columbia Heights Shaw Family Support Collaborative
- The Temple of Praise
- The District of Columbia Housing Authority
- The Metropolitan Police Department Gang Intelligence Unit
- Family Support Community Association
- DC Superior Court Social Services Division
- A host of other partners who have a vested interest in community building.
In addition, as part of the Weed and Seed program, the US Attorney’s Office partners with the DC National Guard to host an annual Drug Education For Youth (DEFY) program. This year-long, multi-phased drug and violence prevention initiative engages youth between the ages of nine and twelve who reside in Weed and Seed communities.
The DEFY curriculum is designed to provide young people with the tools needed resist gangs, drugs and other anti-social behaviors and positively shape their futures. The DEFY program's leadership and life skills activities include leadership training, goal setting, team building, conflict resolution, decision-making and physical fitness. The program consistes of two integrated components:
- Phase I: A one-week residential summer leadership camp that provides a focused classroom learning environment on core topics.
- Phase II: To reinforce the skills learned in Phase I, the children participate in a ten-month mentoring program during the school year. Adult volunteers and youth are placed into mentor cluster groups where they participate in workshops, field trips and tutoring activities. Parents are encouraged to actively participate in supporting their children’s commitment to a positive, drug-free lifestyle, and they are invited to help plan program activities and events. At the end of the program year, all youth are placed in various follow-up programs to ensure that they are continually engaged in drug and violence prevention activities.
Most of the children who participate in the DEFY program come from impoverished backgrounds where crime is rampant, and where there is limited access or exposure to positive role models.