North Carolina Department of Correction News - May 1999

Janet Reno meets with DCC officials in Winston-Salem

HIGH POINT — When U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno came to Winston-Salem April 6 to commend the city for its novel approach to tackling juvenile crime, she couldn’t pass up on the chance to stop by Guilford County to learn more about High Point’s community policing program.

"Since she was in the area, she said she wanted to come by and meet the people involved in our community policing program, because she had heard so many good things about it" said Chris Oxendine, chief probation and parole officer for Judicial District 18 in High Point.

After meeting with officials in Winston-Salem, Reno made a quick detour to Greensboro where she met with Division of Community Corrections Director Robert Guy, Judicial Division Three Chief Roselyn Powell, Oxendine, High Point Police Chief Louis Quijas, U.S. Attorney Walter Holton, Jr. and several other individuals representing the community and various other agencies involved in High Point’s community policing initiative.

"Ms. Reno as well as national research experts have acknowledged the vital role of probation in the overall concept and effectiveness of community policing," Guy said. "As a recognized leader in community corrections, we will continue to develop and expand our initiatives to serve as a national model for effective collaborative community supervision, restoring public faith in the criminal justice system."

Reno was interested in High Point’s program, because High Point has been so successful in getting the community involved in community policing. Oxendine said where some other community policing programs focus on probation and police officers working together at road blocks, riding together in patrol cars and sharing offender information, High Point’s program goes a step further and includes the entire community in its program.

The main focus of High Point’s community policing program is the Violent Crime Task Force. Modeled on a program that got its start in Boston, the Violent Crime Task Force brings together members of the criminal justice community and the community at large to take a pro-active approach to putting an end to violent crime.

With the help of High Point’s probation officers, the Task Force targets individuals with a history of committing violent crime. Those individuals are then summoned to the police department under the premise of meeting with their probation officers.

However, when they arrive at the police station, instead of meeting with their probation officers, the offenders are taken into a room where a group of individuals representing the religious, education, health, social services and non-profit community are waiting. These individuals tell the offenders that they are here to help them turn their lives around by providing any assistance they may need from help finding a job to spiritual guidance.

Next, the offenders are taken to another room. This one is filled with representatives from the police department, probation, FBI, SBI, DEA, district attorney’s office and more. These individuals tell the offenders that they have a choice. They can either take advantage of the help offered by the first group, or if they continue to lead a life of crime, they can expect the whole force of the criminal justice community to bear down on them, because violent crime will no longer be tolerated in High Point.

This unique approach to community policing is working wonders for High Point. Police Chief Louis Quijas said High Point has seen a dramatic decrease in violent crime since the inception of the Task Force.

"All of our violent crime has not gone away, but the level of violence in this community has decreased dramatically," he said. "Our goal is not to just throw the bad guys in jail, but to also be pro-active in strategy. The operative word in community policing is community. This whole process is so successful, because we not only cooperate with the community, we collaborate with the community to find ways to put a stop to violent crime in High Point."

Quijas said after hearing about the program, Reno seemed to be very pleased and impressed with High Point’s efforts.

"An official with the Department of Justice indicated to us that out of the five cities trying this strategy, High Point is the best," he said. u

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