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The “Ground Zero Initiative” has two components. The first component is the creation of a “Ground Zero”, “Phase I” unit within the jail. This unit will be comprised of those individuals who are drug or alcohol addicted or with mental health issues, who wish to come to terms with their addiction or mental health and who also want to break the cycle of addiction and become sober, mentally strong, productive members of society (these inmates are considered to be High Risk/High Needs meaning high risk of recidivism and high need of services). A C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) team will be formed to determine the best course of action as to location, implementation and staffing. There are models for this type of unit which will provide valuable insight into the creation of this unit and will make implementation much easier.
To reduce recidivism, we must first focus on human behavior. Why did Law Enforcement enter into the picture in a persons life in the first place. Then we need to shift our focus to the crimes committed and the ensuing arrest. To reduce recidivism we must focus on those who have already been incarcerated and successfully returned to productive lives. Then we will be able to create successful programs that will reduce recidivism in our Washoe County correctional facility.
Together, we will begin “Forging a New Path” for Law Enforcement, and create Community Based programs. This new path will have a positive impact on the lives of those in our communities. We will impact how we incarcerate inmates. We will focus on the individual and ways we can facilitate them in becoming whole and productive members of society. On this New Path we will reduce the cost of incarceration to the tax payer, have a positive impact in families and children . Washoe County will thrive. This requires the Sheriff’s Office, to partner with the community. This New Path requires “A New Way of Thinking”, “A New Way of Seeing” and “A New Way of Being”, to not only think outside the box, but throw the box away.
C-A-P stands for Community Action Partnerships, but what it means is vastly more important that what it stands for. These partnerships have to do with the disconnect between Law Enforcement and the communities we serve. To a very large extent, Law Enforcement has had an Us versus Them mentality. I know this because of my long career in Law Enforcement spent entirely at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. While we have tried various programs and initiatives, such as Community Oriented Policing, Problem Oriented Policing, D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education and Training), these have all fallen by the wayside at the Sheriff’s Office for various reasons. Law Enforcement tends to try to solve problems through reactionary measures. Seldom, if ever, do they approach the citizens of their community in any meaningful way to determine exactly what the problems are that are causing our citizens to commit crimes and then actively soliciting the help of the citizens to come up with solutions to those problems. No one is more motivated to solve a problem than those experiencing the problem.