- Report Published -
|Feasibility Study of Establishing a Safer by Design Community Recognition Program|
|Department of Criminal Justice Services; Crime Prevention Unit|
|HJR 617 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|During the 1993 General Assembly session, Delegate Jean W. Cunningham patroned HJR 617. The resolution called for the Crime Commission to oversee a Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) study of a possible Safer By Design Community Program, a proposed program to recognize communities utilizing crime prevention strategies to improve the quality of community life.|
The study of Safer By Design was proposed to Delegate Cunningham and the Governor's Commission on Violent Crime by the Virginia Crime Prevention Association (VCPA). The concept of Safer By Design is modeled after the Certified Business Community Program, sponsored by the Department of Economic Development (DED). The DED program assists localities in attracting new industries based on implementing a set of community programs and services deemed to be conducive to attracting new business. Safer By Design would similarly recognize communities implementing a combination of crime prevention programs and practices.
As stipulated in the resolution, the study was conducted by the DCJS Crime Prevention Unit, with the assistance of the VCPA. The nearly 500-member association is composed of both public and private crime prevention professionals, as well as interested citizens. In addition to background research conducted by DCJS staff in support of the study, the VCPA sponsored a focus group to address the study objectives and two other related issues. The focus group took place July 14-16, 1993.
The Crime Commission was briefed on the plans for the study on April 20,1993. Additionally, briefings on the study's progress were made by DCJS staff to the Law Enforcement Subcommittee on May 25,1993; July 27,1993; September 21,1993; and October 18,1993.
The findings and recommendations are as follows:
Finding 1: Establishing a Safer By Design Program holds a lot of promise for making the delivery of crime prevention services a lot more comprehensive and professional at the local level. Designed through the joint efforts of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association and the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the proposed program would be very detailed. It would involve substantial resources to administer it and substantial efforts for most localities to comply with the program's requirements. However, the proposed program would have the potential of providing a readily available blueprint for the delivery of state-of-the-art crime prevention services by localities.
Recommendation 1: The Virginia State Crime Commission endorse the concept of establishing a Safer By Design Community Recognition Program.
Finding 2: It was estimated a Safer By Design Program would require an annual funding level of $100,000. Four possible sources of funding were explored and evaluated: General Fund appropriation, federal grants, state income tax form check-off, and a surcharge on insurance premiums. There is a precedent for an insurance premium surcharge being used to fund a crime prevention program. Section 38.2-414 of the Code of Virginia is presently used to fund the Help Eliminate Auto Theft Fund (HEAT Fund). Whatever mechanism is used to fund the Safer By Design Program, it will be imperative to the program's success to fund it at an adequate level.
Recommendation 2: An adequate level of funding will be necessary to ensure localities are provided with the technical assistance and support services they will require to be successful in achieving recognition as a Safer By Design Community.
Finding 3: A Safer By Design Program would recognize localities for implementing comprehensive crime prevention services. Development, implementation and administration of the program would be an appropriate activity for the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Additionally, if SJR 262 leads to the establishment of the Virginia Crime Prevention Center within DCJS, the program would fit well with the proposed mission of the center.
Recommendation 3: If implemented, the Safer By Design Program should be administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and by the Virginia Crime Prevention Center, if established.
Finding 4: As outlined in HJR 617, this study was completed with the assistance of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association. The VCPA provided invaluable assistance, including hosting the focus group responsible for designing the program's proposed requirements and operations. The VCPA should be included in any future activities related to the development of Safer By Design.
Recommendation 4: If implemented, the Safer By Design Program should be administered with the assistance of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association.
Finding 5: There are many developments currently taking place that intimately affect the proposed Safer By Design Program. Establishment of the Crime Prevention Specialist in the Code of Virginia during the 1993 Session of the General Assembly and the publishing of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association's Crime Prevention Standards are the two most important of these developments. Both the specialist and standards would be major components of the proposed program, and localities should be encouraged to pursue them until Safer By Design can be implemented.
Recommendation 5: Until a Safer By Design Program can be established, localities should be encouraged to implement the Virginia Crime Prevention Association's Crime Prevention Standards and have law enforcement personnel certified as Crime Prevention Specialists.