The National Crime Prevention Council, best known for its McGruff the Crime Dog symbol, will have a new president and CEO as of Monday, May 10. Retired Major General Alfonso E. Lenhardt will take the reins from John A. Calhoun, who is retiring after leading the council for more than 20 years. Calhoun, a former Massachusetts youth services commissioner, has designed innovative pretrial diversion and restorative justice programs as well as Youth as Resources, a program that asks youth to identify social issues that concern them and design and run service projects to address those issues.
Lenhardt, a two-star general, has a 31-year career in military and public sector service. While serving as U.S. Senate sergeant at arms, he developed a response to the October 2001 anthrax attack in the Hart Senate Office Building. He worked with the council when he served as the senior military police officer in charge of the Army’s worldwide police operations. Lenhardt also spent four years as executive vice president of the Council of Foundations.
McGruff and his slogan, “Take A Bite Out Of Crime,” will celebrate his 25th anniversary next year. The council says on its Web site that after the McGruff campaign began, “People began to change their minds and take charge of crime prevention themselves. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe they personally can take actions to reduce crime, and that their neighborhoods and communities can act to prevent crime.” The council oversees training programs, publications, and public service campaigns.
Jack Keil, a New York advertising executive who helped invent the McGruff icon, described it this way: Facing a proposal deadline on an airplane flight, “I got thinking of Smokey. Maybe we ought to think of a cartoon figure. I got into animals. You can think of a lot of things, elephants stomp on crime so there’s one. No. Elephant’s not it. Lion roar at crime. Well, yeah, but we’ve all seen lions. I went through everything. Then I thought, what are we trying to say here? Defeat crime? No. Help yourself. Help yourself beat crime. Nip at crime. You can’t do the big things but you can peck away at it. You can bite it bite, bite, bite crime take a bite out of crime. That’s it, take a bite out of crime! And the minute I said bite, I said dog. The rest of the way home I sketched dogs.”