On Jan. 29, 2002, Prince William County became the first in the Commonwealth to earn the Certified Crime Prevention Community designation. Since that time, the Crime Prevention Unit has recertified every three years to maintain this certification. The most recent recertification was achieved in 2011.
The Certified Crime Prevention Community Program is a state program that publicly recognizes and certifies localities that have implemented a defined set of community-safety strategies identified by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services
The purpose of this program is to reduce the fear of crime through the development and implementation of community safety plans that target youth violence, gang activity and drug involvement. To obtain certification Prince William County met 12 core community safety elements or strategies, which are:
- The Prince William Crime Prevention Council, a non-profit citizen group dedicated to the promotion of community safety through education community events and regular meetings.
- Seven Certified Crime Prevention Specialists employed by the Prince William County Police Department.
- A nationally recognized Neighborhood Watch program, which was established in 1979.
- A formal community-policing program to ensure police response to quality-of-life issues.
- An organized arena to distribute community safety information.
- Free home and business safety inspections by specially trained members of the Police Department.
- A fully functional Crime Analysis Unit within the Police Department.
- A comprehensive school safety audit process.
- A Business Watch program.
- A victim/witness services program administered by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
- A Serious Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program (SHOCAP), which enables juvenile-related agencies to share information in order to provide coordinated services for juveniles.
- A Police Department that has been nationally accredited since 1987, supervised by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
The Police Department also had to have at least seven other optional safety programs to earn the designation, which are:
- The McGruff House program administered by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, which provides shelter for children in emergency situations.
- Fleet Watch, which uses County-owned vehicles equipped with some form of communication to report suspicious activity.
- Participation in the annual National Night Out program held each August to promote the benefits of Neighborhood Watch programs.
- The Watchdog Observer newsletter, which provides pertinent crime information to Neighborhood Watch groups.
- The School Resource Officer program which promotes an understanding between police and students in Prince William County Public Schools.
- The annual Crime Prevention Awards which are presented by the Prince William Crime Prevention Council in support of community initiatives.
- A formal list, maintained by the local Crime Prevention Unit, which provides names and contact information for community leaders and groups involved in crime prevention/community safety efforts.
For more information on the certification contact the Crime Prevention Unit at 703-792-7270 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.