Operation Weed and Seed


A strategy within the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs that incorporates community-based initiatives.  It is an innovative and comprehensive multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization.


Weed and Seed Strategy

Operation Weed and Seed is foremost a strategy--rather than a grant program-- which aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country. Weed and Seed sites range in size from several neighborhood blocks to 15 square miles.

The strategy involves a two-pronged approach: law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in "weeding out" criminals who participate in violent crime and drug abuse, attempting to prevent their return to the targeted area; and "seeding" brings human services to the area, encompassing prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization.


A community-orientated policing component bridges weeding and seeding strategies. Officers obtain helpful information from area residents for weeding efforts while they aid residents in obtaining information about community revitalization and seeding resources.


Elements of the Weed and Seed Strategy
"Weed" = Law Enforcement
(Narcotics traffickers and violent criminals, once arrested, are often immediately returned to the streets to continue distributing drugs and terrorizing local residents. This environment of violence makes potential witnesses fear for their lives. Despite the best efforts of State and local prosecutors, often there is a lengthy delay between arrest and disposition of narcotics cases prosecuted at the local level. Moreover, even when such cases are resolved through a guilty plea of conviction, the criminal may serve little, if any, time in a county or State correctional facility. The Weed and Seed initiative is designed to break this cycle of arrest, delay, and mild or no punishment that breeds frustration and despair in the community.)

The law enforcement element consists primarily of suppression activities. These activities include enforcement, adjudication, prosecution, and supervision efforts designed to target, apprehend, and incapacitate violent street criminals who terrorize neighborhoods and account for a disproportionate percentage of criminal activity. One example of an effective law enforcement strategy is Operation Triggerlock, a Department of Justice initiative that targets violent offenders for prosecution in Federal court to take advantage of tough Federal firearms laws.

Some of the suppression activities will focus on special enforcement operations such as repeat or violent offender removal programs, intensified narcotics investigations, targeted prosecutions, victim-witness protection, and elimination of narcotics trafficking organizations operating in these areas.

Community Policing
Community Policing serves as the bridge between the “weeding" (law enforcement) and "seeding" (neighborhood restoration) components. The community policing element operates in support of intensive law enforcement suppression and containment activities and provides a bridge to the prevention, intervention, and treatment component as well as the neighborhood reclamation and restoration components. Local police departments should implement community policing strategies in each of the targeted sites. Under community policing, law enforcement works closely with community residents to develop solutions to violent and drug-related crime. In addition, community policing should help foster a sense of responsibility within the community and serve as a stimulus for community mobilization.

Community Policing activities will focus on increasing police visibility and developing cooperative relationships between the police and citizenry in the target areas. Techniques such as foot patrols, problem solving, victim referrals to support services, and community relations activities will increase positive interaction between the police and the community. Special emphasis should be placed on addressing the needs of crime victims and minority communities that are disproportionately victimized by crime.

The objective is to raise the level of citizen and community involvement in crime prevention and intervention activities to solve drug-related problems in neighborhoods to enhance the level of community security. Community policing might include police mini stations, foot patrols, and nuisance abatement.

Community mobilization is also important to community policing in crime prevention. Programs that encourage community participation and help prevent crime include neighborhood watches, citizen marches and rallies, prayer services, drug-free zones, and graffiti removal.

"Seed" = Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment
The prevention, intervention, and treatment element could begin with the near completion of the intensive "Weed" activities. However, depending on the needs, interests, and most importantly, the safety of the targeted neighborhood, this aspect of the strategy could be initiated concurrently with the weeding effort. This element should help prevent crime and violence from recurring in target neighborhoods. The coordinated efforts of law enforcement and social service agencies, the private sector, and the community will help prevent crime from recurring. This can be accomplished by concentrating a broad array of human services on the target areas to create an environment where crime cannot thrive.

Prevention, intervention, and treatment should include youth services, school programs, community and social programs, and support groups designed to develop positive community attitudes toward combating narcotics use and trafficking. The Safe Haven, for example, is a mechanism to organize and deliver an array of youth-and adult-oriented human services in a multiservice center setting such as a school.

"Seed" = Neighborhood Restoration
Neighborhood restoration can be achieved only through the coordinated use of Federal, State, local, and private sector resources. This element of the Weed and Seed program is designed to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in the target communities. The neighborhood restoration element will focus on economic development activities designed to strengthen legitimate community institutions. Resources should be dedicated to economic development activities designed to strengthen legitimate community institutions. Resources should be dedicated to economic development, provision of economic opportunities for residents, improved public services in the target areas.

Programs will be developed to improve living conditions; enhance home security; allow for low-cost physical improvements; develop long-term efforts to renovate and maintain housing; and to provide educational, economic, social, recreational, and other virtual opportunities. A key feature of this element will be the fostering of self-worth and individual responsibility among community members.

Steps to Official Recognition
(Before planning, the US Attorney's Office must be contacted in your district.  Notify LEC contact in that office
of your intent to coordinate a Weed and Seed Strategy)

1)  Organize and Convene a Steering Committee -  Once a Steering Committee commits to
       meeting regularly in the interest of the strategy.  For several months, they work on Implementation steps:

-    Selecting the Target Neighborhood
-    Conduct Needs Assessment for the Target Neighborhood
-    Select Existing Resources and Develop New Ones
-    Developing Implementation Activities
-    Developing the Implementation Schedule

The Steering Committee can meet in any space convenient to all parties.  Sites have reported to EOWS
that meetings commenced in the evenings within or near the target area are most productive and well-attended.

2)  Request from EOWS - an Implementation Manual - the resource walks the Steering Committee through the Strategy Implementation procedure.

3)  Convene regular Steering Committee meetings - include the US Attorney or US Attorney's Office designated liaison. Contact the EOWS Program Manager for your state with any questions concerning the development of your strategy.  Program managers can assist with Steering Committee development, as well.

4)  Request in late Spring an Application for Official Recognition - be sure to take note of deadline!

5)  Submit complete application by late November
Communities that develop a Weed and Seed strategy in coordination with their U.S. Attorneys Office may submit an application for Official Recognition (OR) to EOWS (made available to the public each year in early summer) for review and approval (application dates for OR Applications are typically in late November).

If the site is designated as Officially Recognized, it may receive preference in discretionary funding from participating federal agencies; priority for participating in federally sponsored training and technical assistance; use of the Weed and Seed logo; eligibility to attend national EOWS training conferences, and eligibility to apply for Department of Justice Weed and Seed funds, pending the availability of funds.  Funding Applications for OR sites are received and processed in the late winter and into the early Spring.   In FY l999, 70 sites applied for Official Recognition and to date, 31 have been granted.  EOWS now manages some 230 Officially Recognized Weed and Seed sites nationally.

Given the rapid growth of interest in the program, the provision of DOJ funding to additional sites may be limited based on a consideration of factors such as the seriousness of the crime problem in a site, the site's capacity to implement the program, coordination with related federal initiatives and other related factors.

Organizing a Steering Committee

Role of the U.S. Attorney:
- Provides leadership to community leaders coordinating the strategy locally;
- convenes core group of community officials in a "working committee," then assists the local site in selecting and convening a Steering Committee;
- serves on the Steering Committee (often Chairs this committee);
- initiates the planning activities. 


Role of the Steering Committee:
- Complete initial development steps;
- provide direct oversight and management of program goals and objectives;
- coordinate the activities of Weed and Seed sub-committees;
- implementing a coordinated law enforcement and neighborhood restoration plan;
- approve changes to the program;
- document program activity;
- and evaluate the overall program.


The U.S. Attorney must work closely with city, State, and Federal officials, as well as members of the community and the private sector, to accomplish the program's goals. The responsibility for developing the strategy rests with the steering committee. At its discretion, the steering committee may designate a local or State agency or official such as a city manager to be in charge of the program's daily operations.

The U.S. Attorney should initially convene the core group of local officials - a working committee of criminal justice and other local government officials and service providers, as well as representatives of the private sector who will agree to participate in a Weed and Seed program. The committee members should be considered the founders of and future participants in the business of the steering committee.

         The steering committee may include, but is not limited to:

U.S. Attorney

Private Business Owners

Union Representatives

City Mayor

Residents (including youth and elderly)

Corporations operating in Target Area

Chief of Police

Faith-based Representatives

School Administrators, teachers, Superintendent

Non-Profit Leader

District Prosecutor

Law Enforcement Coordinator from USAO

Regional Leaders of Federal Departments and agencies (HUD, HHS, Small Business Admin, etc.)

Representative(s) from city agencies (housing, code enforcement, Dept of Recreation, etc.)

Military community outreach staff