Operation Weed and Seed is a joint federal, state and local coordinated law enforcement and community initiative that aims to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country. The Weed and Seed strategy recognizes the importance of integrating law enforcement with social services and the private sector on federal, state and local levels to maximize the impact of existing programs and resources.
Sponsored by the United States Department of Justice and under the local leadership of the United States Attorney, the strategy involves a two-pronged approach. First, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in "weeding out" criminals who participate in violent crime, gang activity, drug use and drug trafficking in targeted neighborhoods. Second, "seeding" brings a variety of human services to the area, restoring it through social and economic revitalization.
Currently, Maryland has four officially recognized Weed and Seed sites, discussed below. As a result of their official recognition status, these sites are eligible to receive start-up funding to conduct public safety initiatives, including special enforcement activities to address drug dealing, prostitution, juvenile crime, or whatever specific crime problem the community identifies. The sites may receive annual grant awards to conduct "seeding" activities and "weeding" activities.
1. City of Salisbury Weed and Seed Site
The Salisbury Weed and Seed site is in its fifth year of operation. The site has created a strong presence within the Salisbury community.The site's target areas encompasses a broad geographic area -- which includes several of the most troubled communities in the city of Salisbury. Recently, the city of Salisbury has been affected by increased drug usage and dealing, aging communities, deteriorating housing stock and a need for an expansion in after-school youth activities. The Weed and Seed Steering Committee has made a significant impact in addressing these concerns.
The City of Salisbury has been exemplary in coordinating both state and federal resources to maximize their ability to impact public safety needs in the area. The Salisbury Weed and Seed site is now working closely with the Wicomico County Project Exile Initiative ( a PSN funded initiative) to minimize violence and the flow of illegal weapons in the area. As a result of this collaboration, federal gun prosecutions have increased from the Salisbury Weed and Seed targeted area. In addition the Salisbury Weed and Seed site is working closely with the Maryland’s anti-crime initiatives, which focus state agency resources (both law enforcement and service providers) in high crime communities.
In addition to increasing law enforcement efforts, the Salisbury Weed and Seed initiative
has established numerous safe-havens. These sites are providing numerous after-school and extracurricular programs to children throughout the city. Mentoring programs, which team community adults with community youth, have also increased significantly during the operation of the program. These programs and services are expected to continue to expand.
Significant strides in neighborhood restoration were also made in the program's early years of operation. The Salisbury Weed and Seed initiative began its community utification projects in all of the targeted communities, including community parks and playgrounds. The Salisbury Weed and Seed initiative also worked closely with Salisbury Neighborhood Housing to promote the revitalization of available housing and home ownership in the community. Several houses in East Salisbury have been renovated and new homeowners have acquired the properties. As a result of this community revitalization, many of the long-time homeowners in the area have renewed their personal commitments to restoring their own properties - raising property values throughout the area.