Police agencies, community crime prevention groups, and Texas citizens throughout the state will benefit from a $1 million U. S. Justice Department grant awarded Friday to the Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University. The award will create the Texas Regional Community Policing Institute.

The funding is for one year, with the possibility of an additional two years at the same level. The federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services administers the funds, which were provided by the Public Safety Partnership and Community Policing Act of 1994.

Training will be conducted at the SHSU Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville and numerous cities throughout the state. Several agencies including those in San Antonio, Fort Worth, Arlington, El Paso, and others are identified as Institute Partners and will play a major role in the development of services and curriculum offered by the institute.

Randall L. Garner, a SHSU criminal justice faculty member who authored the proposal, will become the institute's director and will administer the grant. Garner said it will provide funding to accomplish a number of goals including offering training to Texas law enforcement and community groups in crime-specific and community-oriented policing philosophies and tactics.

Community-oriented policing is a policing philosophy that promotes and supports organizational strategies to address the causes of crime and reduce the fear of crime and social disorder through problem-solving tactics and community police partnerships, said Garner, who has also worked as a police officer and police chief.

Garner explained how community-oriented policing works in contrast to traditional approaches, using the example of how they might both handle a "crack house," or neighborhood building which is a source of continuing incidents involving the distribution of "cracked" cocaine.

"In the traditional approach police might get 15 calls concerning drug activity at the house," he said. "They would respond 15 times, but may do little more. Under the community policing philosophy they would look at it from a problem-solving perspective, which might result in condemning the building and having it leveled."

Crime specific policing involves targeting specific crime problems, whether it be "crack" houses, auto theft, gangs, or whatever, to eliminate the causes of the crime through proactive steps rather than waiting for crimes to happen and then reacting.

Training will be offered to some 120 police academy/training directors regarding the philosophy of the process, said Garner, so that it might be "infused within the curriculum of their training facilities."

Garner said that 5 to 10 full- and part-time employees, including two curriculum coordinators, an assistant project director, and technical support personnel will be employed under the grant.

Another feature of the project will be the development of beat-level computer programs for use in mobile data terminals now carried in many police units and in departmental crime analysis computers.

"Lots of details get washed away now," said Garner. "The new software will provide information not normally available at that level of analysis--a new layer of detail."

Training will be available to both law enforcement agencies and community groups, such as crime victim and neighborhood watch agencies. In addition to the training and software development, statewide distribution of relevant publications, easy access to community-oriented policing training materials, and technical assistance in the implementation of community-oriented policing will be provided.

In addition, a Texas Community Policing Institute Web Page will be developed, allowing departments access to many community-policing resources and providing interactive communication between the SHSU training organization, law enforcement departments, community groups, and interested citizens.

"This is an exciting new activity for one of our most prestigious programs," said Bobby K. Marks, SHSU president. "Sam Houston State University is pleased to be of service to Texas in this important work. I would like to congratulate Dr. Garner and the others at Sam Houston State who are responsible for this achievement."


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak

May 30, 1997