The four-year-old High Point, N.C., anticrime initiative that has virtually shut down public drug dealing in the city of 100,000 was featured yesterday at the National Institute of Justice’s annual conference. The Washington, D.C., event showcases important research on crime. Criminologist David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, whose Boston “Ceasefire” project in 1996 was a prototype for High Point, told the meeting that most High Point drug markets have “evaporated” and the city has experienced a sustained cut in violent crime, with little or no displacement to neighboring areas.
The U.S. Justice Department is helping replicate the idea in 16 cities. A key tactic is assembling known drug dealers with law enforcement and community leaders and telling them to stop public drug dealing or face serious consequences. High Point Police Chief James Fealy told the conference that “we focused on the right people at the right place at the right time with tactics the community approved of.” The Rev. Sherman Mason of High Point said community members told drug dealers that what they were doing was wrong and that “if you do it again, we are going to slam you.” He said there was an “overwhelming response” from the community, and the result was “as if someone waved a wand and cleared [the drug dealers] out.”