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Combating violence by building partnerships.

Violent crime threatens communities across the Nation. This violence can no longer be viewed as isolated acts occurring at random. Instead, an atmosphere of violence, created and inflamed by a number of factors, exists in many communities. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI - like many law enforcement agencies around the country - are developing a community approach to the problem of violent crime.

This response calls for a comprehensive effort, with the resources of the Federal Government, State and local law enforcement, and community groups coordinated to ensure the most effective results. The dimensions of today's violence make one thing clear: No single component by itself can be successful. The problem of violent crime demands the combined efforts of the criminal justice system and community groups.

New Direction

Responding to a dramatic 30-percent increase in the violent crime rate during the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI developed new strategies to confront the devastating effects violence inflicts on communities. In June 1989, FBI Director William S. Sessions designated violent crime as a priority area of investigation across all FBI programs.

Two years later, in March 1991, the U.S. Attorney General convened a summit of top political and law enforcement officials to outline initiatives and evaluate the most effective ways to address the increasing violence. This conference established the framework for a comprehensive response to the problem of violent crime.

Then, on October 16-17, 1991, the FBI sponsored the National Symposium on Addressing Violent Crime Through Community Involvement. Held at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, this symposium further explored the underlying causes and tragic consequences of violence. The symposium also marked a turning point in the FBI's approach to violent crime. During the conference, the FBI advocated new levels of community involvement to address the problem of violence.

The National Symposium on

Addressing Violent Crime

Through Community


The Quantico symposium was the first such gathering of civic leaders and law enforcement officials by the FBI on a national level. It established important lines of communication essential to a cooperative response to violent crime.

During the symposium, a wide range of civic leaders underscored the need for a community approach to violent crime. Participants from over 40 national organizations, representing a broad cross-section of community and policy viewpoints - including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Crime Stoppers, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and the National Urban League - discussed strategies with officials from municipal, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies.

A strong theme emerged during the conference. Communities must address the roots of violence before the consequences can be brought under control. The wave of violent crime sweeping across the Nation points to underlying problems confronting cities, and these underlying problems must be addressed.

During the symposium, speakers discussed the effects of violent crime within the general framework of community health. Violence, like diseases, threatens entire communities. However, just as diseases can be brought under control through preventative action, so too can violent crime. The comprehensive approach endorsed by participants during the symposium calls for proactive efforts directed at the problems that lead to violence.

Special Agents in Charge (SACs) from 28 FBI field divisions participated in the national symposium. These SACs are responsible for implementing the FBI's efforts in their communities. While specific strategies continue to be formulated, evaluated, and redirected to meet changing needs, the general approach calls for enhanced involvement with local efforts to curb violence. Where limited community initiatives exist, law enforcement teams work with civic groups to enhance these efforts.

As part of this proactive strategy, the FBI sponsors drug prevention and antiviolence initiatives in schools. Through the Drug Demand Reduction Program (DDRP), the FBI provides information about the destructive effects of drugs, both on individuals and communities.

The Future

The National Symposium on Addressing Violent Crime Through Community Involvement established important lines of communication between law enforcement and community groups. A series of followup conferences were also scheduled to strengthen these relationships.

In February 1992, a conference consisting of representatives from the National Sheriffs' Association, AARP, IACP, and the FBI, addressed crime problems facing the elderly. A September 1992, conference will focus on community-oriented policing.

A 1-year followup to the national symposium will be held in December 1992. During this conference, attendees will reevaluate programs, chart the progress made in combating violence, and redirect resources to produce the best results. In addition, regional conferences are planned to address the problems of violence. SACs will host and participate in these meetings to help formulate comprehensive regional strategies.


The problem of violence is growing; so too is the resolve of law enforcement and communities to address the problem. The National Symposium on Addressing Violent Crime Through Community Involvement established a framework for success. Federal, State, and local law enforcement working together within communities can have a tremendous effect in curbing violence.
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Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:May 1, 1992
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