In 1991, the Department of Justice decided to try a new approach to assist cities to deal with neighborhoods that had been hard hit by violent crime, drug and gang activity, and the erosion of social and economic stability that accompany those problems. Philadelphia was selected to be a pilot city in the program. The program strategy employs a two-pronged approach: law enforcement agencies and criminal justice officials cooperate with each other to "weed out" criminals who are violent and abuse drugs to prevent them from victimizing residents; and social services and economic revitalization are brought in to "seed" the area to ensure long term change and a higher quality of life for residents. The four components of Weed and Seed are:
- Law Enforcement;
- Community Policing;
- Prevention / Intervention / Treatment; and
- Neighborhood Restoration.
The strategy is now being utilized in North and West Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Coatesville, Lancaster and Bristol Township. There are Department of Justice funds going to Philadelphia and Reading and the other cities/municipalities are in the process of applying for Official Recognition status which will enable them to compete for federal funding.
The United States Attorney and/or his representative sit on the Steering Committees for the two Philadelphia sites, Allentown, Reading, Coatesville, Lancaster and Bristol Township.