Operation Weed and Seed was the Department of Justice´s innovative and comprehensive multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization.
Operation Weed and Seed was a coordinated effort that worked to make a wide range of public resources more accessible to communities. The City of Brockton, in cooperation with the Plymouth County District Attorney´s Office, the Brockton Police Department, the U.S. Attorney´s Office, and Brockton business owners and residents initiated Weed and Seed in August 1999 to address crime and safety in Brockton´s downtown area.
It was foremost a strategy–rather than a grant program– it aimed to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high-crime neighborhoods across the country. Weed and Seed sites ranged in size from several neighborhood blocks to several square miles.
From 1998-2010, The Brockton Weed and Seed received official recognition for its Downtown target area. For twelve years, law enforcement, social service agencies and residents partnered to effectively reduce crime in some of the city´s toughest neighborhoods. In 2004, the Department of Justice awarded Brockton recognition for a new site. The new target area, referred to as the Campello site, encompassed Main Street, portions of the City´s Campello section and an area around Crescent Court.
This expanded target area also covered the streets designated by the Safe Neighborhood Initiative (SNI). Similar in concept, SNI is a program initiated by the Massachusetts Attorney General´s Office and assists residents to work with law enforcement to reduce crime in their neighborhoods. Consequently, as a result of their similar missions and target areas, Weed and Seed and SNI combined efforts in 2004 and continued to meet monthly to address their common issues. In addition, an Assistant Attorney General served as a community prosecutor in Brockton District Court to specifically handle cases that originated from both target areas.
Weed and Seed linked all aspects of the Brockton community in the shared goal of weeding out violent crime and disorder while seeding the target area with social services and economic revitalization. It included four basic elements: law enforcement, community policing, prevention/intervention/treatment, and neighborhood restoration.
A portion of the grant funding went to a designated “safe haven”, the Boys and Girls Club. In the Downtown site, the Boys and Girls Club expanded hours for neighborhood children and created new after-school programs to encourage participation and community involvement by youth. National statistics show that juvenile crime peaks from 2:00 to 3:00 PM when many youth are left to their own devices. The Safe Haven provided a place where children could play, learn, and have fun without resorting to destructive behavior.
The Police Department, District Attorney´s Office, and the U.S. Attorney´s Office cooperated in weeding out criminals and putting prosecution on a fast track to begin improving the quality of life for residents within the target area of Brockton. The seeding aspect included assistance through the grant to community social and human service providers that enhanced and increased the availability and delivery of their services to Brockton residents within the target area.