Neighborhood State Attorney Initiative
The Neighborhood State Attorney Initiative, or NSAI, is a prosecution philosophy that builds partnerships among the prosecutor's office, law enforcement, public and private organizations, and the community, whereby the authority of the prosecutor's office is used to solve problems, prevent crime, and enhance the quality of life in the community. It is the next logical extension of community policing and often referred to as community prosecution.
Why do we need it?
There are two ways we can approach the crime problem in our communities: we can just let it happen and deal with it then; or as State Attorney Archer believes we must, we can shape our future by proactively working together in our neighborhoods in crime prevention efforts and on quality of life issues.
In 1999, several NSAI "teams" were created in the circuit and began working with a targeted area. Each team consisted of an Assistant State Attorney and a Community Advocate. Initially, there was a team assigned to the communities of Titusville and Palm Bay in Brevard County and within the Altamonte Springs area in Seminole County. Each team established an office in their assigned community.
Instead of waiting at the courthouse for problems or cases to come to the prosecutor, the Assistant State Attorney is accessible in the neighborhood to address issues before they become crimes. If minor crimes are left unattended, disorder will escalate and probably lead to more serious crimes, business flight, and deterioration of the quality of life in the community. The focus is on being in touch with the community through direct and daily interaction; finding out the concerns and issues important to its citizens; and then addressing those concerns through partnerships with law enforcement, private and public organizations, local businesses and community groups and leaders.
The NSAI teams use a wide variety of methods such as town meetings, surveys, community and neighborhood meetings, as well as an analysis of crime data, to gather input from residents, law enforcement, business leaders, and others to identify community issues and areas of concern. The NSAI teams then develop specific projects to target the problems, improve public safety and enhance the quality of life. Creative problem solving is an essential part of designing projects that will work in the targeted community. A good example of such projects include the use of exclusionary mapping to remove offenders from problem areas and prohibit their return; a repeat offender and prison release program that concentrates on career criminals and monitoring of those released back into our communities; trespass enforcement programs; and the focus on nuisance properties that have become a continual nightmare for communities.
Each NSAI team is expected to be actively involved with the community and regularly participate in community events such as crime prevention fairs, neighborhood cleanups, and drug free rallies. Community involvement is essential in order to form and maintain partnerships. Community events provide an arena to share problem solving ideas and make valuable contacts with other groups, citizens and leaders to enhance the effectiveness of the NSAI program. Community interaction also helps to introduce the NSAI program to the community and to educate the NSAI team about community needs and problems.
Unfortunately, due to substantial budget cutbacks over the last several years the NSAI program has been forced to reduce its operations. The assigned attorneys and staff have been brought back into the main offices to assume traditional duties. However, they are still actively involved with crime prevention projects and community partnerships as their schedules will permit. It is hoped that as financial conditions improve in the future the program can be brought back to the communities they serve.