View Header


Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 5, 1997

Justice, HUD Will Implement New Enforcement and Prevention Strategy

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Gore today (6/5) joined Attorney General Janet Reno and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo in announcing a new four-part strategy to protect public housing residents from the scourge of crime and drugs.

This package strikes a balance between the need for strong punishment and the need for strong prevention. The four-part strategy provides communities with the tools they need to fight crime and drugs by:

1.) stepping up law enforcement activities in 13 targeted cities, 2.) preventing crime from happening in the first place, in the same 13 cities, with an aggressive crime prevention and reduction strategy, 3.) providing $250 million in 1997 grants to help empower residents to fight drugs, and 4.) calling for $20 million in 1998 to strengthen HUD')s Operation Safe Home, an innovative crime-fighting partnership between federal, state and local governments.

"A vast majority of public housing residents are hard-working, law-abiding citizens. Yet too often, they are victimized by a smaller group who choose to ignore the law," said the Vice President. "Today, we get tough and help families. This new four-part strategy stops the criminals, protects the law-abiding citizens in public housing, and will make our neighborhoods safe for children."

Secretary Cuomo addressed the drug prevention components by saying, "There is no greater improvement that we can make to the nation's public housing than the elimination of drugs. We must have zero tolerance for people who deal drugs. They are the most vicious, who prey on the most vulnerable. They are the seducers, who tempt the impressionable young. They must be stopped."

"We must aggressively pursue violent crime and drug trafficking in our public housing communities," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Those who make their homes in our nation's public housing deserve to live without fear, like every American."

This package is an excellent example of the strong working relationship between the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, local governments and public housing authorities in terms of addressing crime and drug activity. ##

Get Tough. Help Families.

Vice President Gore, Attorney General Reno, Secretary Cuomo Announce Enforcement and Prevention Strategy to Fight Crime and Drugs in Public Housing June 5, 1997

The American Dream is alive and well at public housing sites across America. At more than 3,400 locations nationwide, parents are working hard to get an education, find a job, raise their families, and move from welfare to work. They shouldn't have to confront bullets flying through their windows, and they shouldn't be forced to worry about their children being approached by drug dealers on the way home from school. But in too many places, that's the reality of everyday life.

In his State of the Union Address last year, President Clinton challenged federal officials, Public Housing Authorities, and tenants to adopt a "One Strike and You're Out" policy to clean up public housing and make it a safe place for children to live. The strategy had two simple parts: sweep out drug dealers and criminals, then prevent them from coming back. Since then, initial results show America has responded: increasing the number of drug-related convictions by a third, and nearly doubling the number of drug dealers and criminals kept out of public housing.

Today, Vice President Al Gore, Attorney General Janet Reno, and HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo are announcing a new four-part strategy that builds on the success of the past two years and takes the next step to protect public housing residents from the scourge of crime and drugs. This package strikes a balance between the need for strong punishment and the need for strong prevention. It promotes partnerships between law enforcement agencies and tenant organizations. It reaches out to young people and provides alternatives to crime and drugs. Above all, it seeks to meet the challenge made by President Clinton in his second inaugural address: to provide neighborhoods safe for children to grow up.

Today's package provides the tools communities need to fight crime and drugs in public housing, in four ways:

First, it intensifies law enforcement activities in the "worst of the worst" -- the 13 cities with some of the most troubled public housing authorities in America today.

Second, it complements those same enforcement activities with an equally aggressive prevention strategy -- supporting tailor-made, community-driven crime prevention programs.

Third, it provides $250 million to support local efforts to fight crime and drugs, empowering neighbors to take responsibility for keeping their communities safe.

Fourth, it calls for $20 million to strengthen HUD's Operation Safe Home, an innovative partnership between federal, state, and local governments designed to maximize crime-fighting efforts in public housing. More specifically:

  1. It steps up law enforcement activities in 13 targeted cities.

In 1996, HUD and the Department of Justice launched the Priority City Initiative, targeting six of the most violent public housing authorities in the nation. The program was so successful that another seven cities have been targeted this year. As of today, the expanded program is up and running in all 13 cities. In each city, the U.S. Attorney has facilitated, or is facilitating, meetings and task forces between a broad range of law enforcement officers, including: the HUD Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, public housing directors, PHA managers, and local police chiefs. These forums are designed to coordinate efforts and get everybody reading from the same page: identifying trouble spots, brainstorming innovative solutions, and coordinating responsibilities of each agency. In fact, these meetings have set the stage for ongoing cooperation between public housing authorities and law enforcement agents.

The six original cities include: San Francisco, CA: Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI: New Orleans, LA; and Washington, DC. The seven new cities include: Newark, NJ; Kansas City, Missouri; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Greensboro, NC; Memphis TN; and Gary, IN.

Success Stories

The DOJ/HUD Priority City Initiative is a proven model of success. The original six cities targeted have experienced promising results since the effort was initiated in April of 1996.

San Francisco -- Enforcement sweeps of the targeted areas of the San Francisco Housing Authority have resulted in more than 200 felony arrests.

Philadelphia, PA -- 29 drug dealers have been arrested in and around one housing development and 150 bags of crack cocaine and marijuana were seized.

Chicago, IL -- In October of 1996, 13 drug dealers responsible for all drug trafficking around the Wentworth Gardens project were arrested.

Detroit, MI -- Efforts in Detroit have resulted in more than 70 arrests in and around public housing projects.

New Orleans, LA -- In the Iberville Housing Development numerous arrests and drug seizures have been made.

District of Columbia -- More than 60 arrests in the Montana Terrace apartment complex.

2. It helps prevent violent crime from happening in the first place

The best way to fight violent crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place. The Priority City Prevention Initiative is a joint effort by HUD and Justice designed to marry the tough law enforcement activities in the 13 targeted PHA's with a creative, common-sense, two-track prevention and reduction strategy. Once law enforcement makes a public housing complex safe, this effort helps provide local residents with the tools and expertise they need to keep it safe.

Through the Priority City Prevention Initiative, HUD's Office of Crime Prevention and Security will arrange for expert consultants to work directly with public housing authorities in the 13 targeted cities to tailor prevention strategies that best meet their needs. The expert will be on the ground to assist PHA management, facilitate resident meetings, strengthen and establish resident organizations and streamline implementation efforts from one site to the next.

Specific efforts to reduce crime include: Training public housing managers in community policing techniques Improving security measures, such as gates and security posts Creating resident discipline programs and other empowerment strategies Initiate identification card and parking sticker systems Tenant screening and evictions in accordance with "One Strike and

You're Out"
Establishing community liaison officer programs

Similarly, specific activities to prevent crime include: Forging partnerships with city agency service providers Systematically eliminating graffiti
Getting the trash picked up in a timely manner Repairing curb and sidewalk damage
Painting and repairing individual housing units Maintaining locks, doors, windows, and safety precautions

3. It provides $250 million to help empower residents to fight drugs Often, residents themselves serve as the first and most effective line against crime and drugs in public housing. While law enforcement officers and public housing staff have a primary role to play in reducing crime, experience has shown that residents themselves, who are most directly affected by drugs and drug related crime, can have the most long-lasting effect. In 1997, HUD will award grants totaling $250 million in Drug Elimination Grants to empower residents to turn the tide against drugs, drug trafficking, and drug-related crimes in their own communities. These grants will be used for a wide variety of activities, including:

Employment of security personnel and investigators Security, in the form of reimbursements for municipal police services on PHA property or contract security staff Physical improvements to enhance security Voluntary tenant patrols
Drug prevention, intervention, and treatment programs Security and drug prevention programs operated by resident management corporations, incorporated resident councils, and resident organizations. These grants are made on the strength of each PHA's self-designated drug and crime prevention program. 4. It coordinates law enforcement efforts to provide maximum protection for our families.

Too often in the past, federal law enforcement agencies have not worked together as best as they could. Starting in 1994, HUD began an innovative program to coordinate law enforcement activities at the federal, state, and local level. By bringing a coalition of agencies together with public housing officials and local residents, "Operation Safe Home" has led to an unprecedented crackdown on drug and gang activity. In the past three years, it has led to more than 12,000 arrests, $22 million in illegal drugs seized, 1,600 weapons captured, and more than 1,450 search warrants served. This program also follows criminals beyond the simple arrest, working to identify and follow through on outstanding arrest warrants and parole violations.

HUD's 1998 budget request asks for $20 million to be invested in this highly successful program, reaching out to 140 communities to prevent crime and make public housing safe. Success Stories

MAY 20, 1997; SAVANNAH, TN: Thirty-four individuals arrested on felony drug charges following a 6-month "Operation Crack of Dawn" effort for selling crack cocaine and marijuana in and around public housing developments in Savannah and Hardin County. Public housing residents arrested will be evicted under the "One Strike" policy. This operation was conducted by HUD OIG, the Savannah Police Department, Hardin County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the 24th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

MAY 8, 1997; EASTON, PA: At the request of the Mayor of Easton, DEA, HUD OIG, the Easton Police Department, and the Northampton County Sheriff's Office conducted a 6-month investigation focusing on drug dealing, particularly in and around public housing. In the first phase of the operation, large quantities of crack cocaine were seized along with guns, ammunition, cash and vehicles. Sixty individuals were arrested. In the second phase, 14 individuals were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, including distributing crack cocaine and heroin within 1,000 feet of public housing. Five additional individuals were arrested and will be charged at the state level. Cocaine, marijuana, a handgun and two vehicles were seized.

MAY 9, 1997; GLEN COVE, NY: A multi-agency Operation Safe Home Task Force executed 18 arrest warrants for drug dealers operating in Glen Cove Housing Authority properties. Twenty-two individuals were arrested for drug dealing and violating state parole. Sixteen packets of cocaine were discovered on one of the drug dealers. This Task Force is made up of HUD OIG, US Secret Service, Glen Cove and Nassau County Police Departments, and the New York State Division of Parole.

MAY 5, 1997; DALLAS, TX: Two individuals were arrested under the "Egghouse" (Eliminate Gangs and Guns from Public Housing) Operation Safe Home initiative. Task Force members, working undercover in public housing, had purchased weapons 6rom one of the individuals. Subsequent to the arrests, two machine guns, 91 handguns, 49 rifles, and an undetermined number of shotguns were confiscated, including a handgun identified as the weapon that was used to kill a local police officer. The Task Force, which is working in public housing areas under the auspices of the Dallas Housing Authority, is composed of ATF, HUD OIG, and the Dallas Police Department.

APRIL 9, 1997; COLUMBUS, OH: A member of the Windsor Terrace Posse, who supplied drugs and guns to the Short North Posse at the Windsor Terrace public housing development, was arrested by ATF and HUD OIG Agents and charged with conspiracy, possession of 50 kilograms of cocaine, distribution of crack cocaine and heroin, and firearms violations. The Windsor Terrace development has been torn down and is being rebuilt as Rosewind Apartments.

APRIL 1, 1997; COATESVILLE, PA: Forty individuals were arrested on state charges of possessing/distributing illegal drugs. This followed efforts by a joint Task Force made up of the DEA, HUD OIG, and state and local police. The Task Force was formed in response to the high volume of drug trafficking and drug related shootings in and around Coatesville subsidized housing developments over the last year.

MARCH 21-31; LOS ANGELES, CA: The Los Angeles City Housing Task Force arrested 11 individuals on narcotic charges in the Aliso Village, Pico Gardens, William Mead, Nickerson Gardens, and Dan Strand public housing developments. Over 90 grams of PCP, 4 grams of methamphetamine, 18 grams of marijuana, B gram of rock cocaine, and 2 grams of powder cocaine were seized. The Task Force is made up of the Los Angeles Housing Authority Police Department and HUD/OIG.

MARCH 13, 1997; OMAHA, NE: Special Agents from the ATF Omaha Achilles Group and HUD/OIG, along with Gang Unit Officers from the Bellevue and Omaha Police Departments, arrested two individuals as part of a long-term undercover investigation of the Lomas Street Gang, active in housing developments of the city. The gang is a violent, profit-motivated group of over 200 members operating throughout Omaha and have been responsible for numerous drive-by shootings and robberies in and around public and assisted housing. The Lomas Street Gang was successfully infiltrated by an undercover HUD OIG Agent posing as a weapons and explosives source. Over the next year, the Agent participated in several activities with gang members and their drug suppliers. On March 13, Agents and Officers successfully conducted two successive "reverse sting" operations, leading to the two arrests. Following the arrests, Agents and Officers seized approximately 44 pounds of marijuana. Undercover contacts revealed that many of the gang members have also engaged in international drug smuggling.

DECEMBER 17, 1996; BRONX, NY: Sixty-one persons were arrested at Jose de Diego Beekman, a 1,300-unit HUD assisted housing development. Those arrested were members of twelve drug gangs who, in one day, distributed over $100,000 worth of heroine, cocaine and crack in the development and the surrounding neighborhood. The gang members are allegedly responsible for 18 murders since 1989. Seizures included 1,200 vials of crack, 891 glassines of heroin, 88 tins and 17 bags of cocaine, 9 bags of marijuana, and 5 weapons. This 90 day invest igation was conducted jointly with the New York City Police Department, ATF, FBI, HUD OIG, and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.