Austin, Texas is a great city. But, even a great city has areas that aren't so great. East Austin has long had problems with drugs, prostitution and associated crimes. The Austin American Statesman had a piece last week that looked at Austin Police implementing a problem oriented policing strategy to combat these crimes.
Each police department calls the initiative by a different name. But the steps are the same: Officers use statistics to pinpoint the high-crime drug market areas and work to identify the biggest players within the trade. The most violent and dangerous drug dealers are prosecuted and given harsh penalties, while police work with the community to reach out to family and friends of low-level offenders.I am interested to see how this effort works in Austin and will be following it. Hopefully, they'll publish their results as this develops.
These perpetrators at the bottom rungs are asked to come in for a "call-in," or an intervention, where authorities, neighborhood leaders and families come forward to explain the harm their crimes cause and offer support in changing their ways. But law enforcement officials send the message they will come down hard on violators who break the law again.
"There are a lot of carrots to be handed out, but there is also going to be a stick," Acevedo said. "Life is about choices, and this is about giving people the opportunity to make choices to turn their lives around and improve the quality of life for the people in that area."
There is a pretty good description of the High Point strategy in this document from the US DOJ. You can also find some great information about combating open air drug dealing in this POP Guide from the Problem Oriented Policing Center.