The Safe Neighborhood Initiative (SNI) is a geographically-based community prosecution model that utilizes a holistic approach to stemming violence and improving quality of life in the neighborhoods of Suffolk County. In addition to their traditional law enforcement role in the prosecution of offenders, assistant district attorneys assigned to the Safe Neighborhood Initiative work closely with neighborhood residents, community organizations, service providers, clergy, and police, to identify and address individuals who may benefit from services or activities designed to deter recidivism and prevent criminality in the first place. Prosecutors utilize all prevention, intervention, and law enforcement tools at their disposal toward one goal: improving the quality of life for people who live in the neighborhoods of Suffolk County. Put simply, the SNI partnership embraces a strategy that includes targeting criminal offenders for swift prosecution and conducting outreach efforts to prevent more crimes from occurring.
Prosecutors from District Attorney Conley’s SNI Unit are specifically assigned to handle every case that arises in the SNI target area, with the exception of homicide cases, which are handled by prosecutors in the DA’s Homicide Unit. SNI prosecutors are the mouthpiece of the community in the court, and they play an equally important role outside of it: in addition to their courtroom responsibilities, prosecutors assigned to the Safe Neighborhood Initiative meet regularly after work hours with police, local residents, neighborhood groups, merchants and clergy to address a wide range of public safety problems. SNI prosecutors serve as a vital link between the criminal justice system and the community.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office currently has five Safe Neighborhood Initiative sites in Suffolk County: Grove Hall SNI*, Greater Dorchester SNI, Uphams Corner SNI, Washington Street Corridor SNI* (Dorchester/Mattapan), and Chelsea SNI.
*The Washington Corridor target area is also Department of Justice Weed & Seed site, and the Grove Hall target area is a Graduated DOJ Weed & Seed site. Weed and Seed is foremost a strategy—rather than a grant program- that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high-crime neighborhoods across the country. Weed and Seed sites range in size from several neighborhood blocks to a few square miles. The strategy involves a two-pronged approach: law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in “weeding out” violent crime and drug abuse; and “seeding” brings human services to the area, encompassing prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization. A community oriented policing component bridges the weeding and seeding strategies. Officers obtain helpful information from area residents for weeding efforts while they aid residents in obtaining information about community revitalization and seeding resources.