When Eric Holder was the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., he started a program that sent prosecutors into communities to get to know residents and local law enforcement – ties that prove helpful when putting together criminal cases, says National Public Radio. Fifteen years later his program is still thriving. The “community prosecutions” program assigns federal prosecutors to specific neighborhoods. They get out of the office and build relationships with members of the community. They get to know police, neighbors, hoodlums, witnesses – everyone.
Today, Attorney General Holder says the program is one of his proudest accomplishments from his time as D.C.’s chief federal prosecutor. More than half of the state and local law enforcement offices in the country do community prosecution. In D.C., the initiative is as strong as ever. “When the members of the community see me playing with their kids, they feel a lot more comfortable about our office as a whole rather than just the big bad prosecutor coming to lock them up,” says Jelahn Stewart, an assistant U.S. attorney and community prosecutor. “But then, when it comes to intelligence, the citizens are very willing to give us all kinds of information that really will prevent crime.”