Sep 29, 2010

Reaching Out to The Private Sector

This week we are blogging from the 6th Annual National Community Prosecution Conference in Washington D.C. The Conference brings together innovative prosecutorial leaders from across the nation to explore the latest innovations in crime prevention and intervention. The Conference is organized by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Target is well known for its retail stores and its ubiquitous red target corporate logo. What is less well know is that Target is also a major supporter of law enforcement through partnerships with over two thousand state, local and federal agencies, according to Brad Brekke, Vice President of Asset Protection. The initiative, Target & Blue, provides training and technical assistance to local police department’s exposing police professionals to best practices in the corporate sector. It is part of Target's larger corporate giving effort supporting education, the arts, and social services.

As Target sought to enter urban markets they realized that their risks would rise, but their resources to address them would not. Partnering with law enforcement is an essential element of their business strategy. Partnerships based on “mutual benefit” are best, according to Brekke. “We noticed that as partnerships go up, crime goes down and businesses go up,” said Brekke. One example cited is  Target’s funding of crime cameras in a Minneapolis business district. Law enforcement worked with the community on the initiative. The results: lower crime and increased business investment. To build partnerships with the private sector  Brekke suggested prosectors work on: 1) identifying the best partners, 2) focusing on an issue, 3) making introductions, 4) formulating a program, and 4) celebrating success. It is also important to measure the results of your partnership.

Community prosecutors should get to know business owners, advised Captain Josh Ederheimer of the District’s Metropolitan Police Department. Inviting business leaders to visit your office is one way to make a connection. Meet their needs first; ask how you can help them. Ederheimer also advised that you take the “Washington Post test:” Determine how your partnership will look from the outside; be transparent and keep good records; make sure your office vets any arrangements where private partners are providing travel or other resources; and when possible establish MOU’s.

Other panelist included Tom Zugibe, District Attorney of Rockland County, and Mitch Roth, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from Hawaii.