Addressing the Root Causes of Crime

By Angela Crist


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2010) The University of South Florida Institute of Government (FIOG) , the USF Police Department and the University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc. are working together to address the root causes of crime.


The Coordinated Community Anti Crime Initiative, supported by the Florida Office of the Attorney General, began in 2004 as a pilot program to address challenges that are often precursors to criminal activity in the University Area of Tampa. This initiative uses a multi-level approach to reach out to all facets of a neighborhood, from residents to those who work within the area, to spark a spirit of community revitalization. This pilot program lays the foundation for changing neighborhoods into safe and sustainable communities.

In partnership with the University of South Florida Police Department, safety trainings are provided to faculty, staff, students and residents of the University Area campus community. The Bull’s Eye “Crime Watch” provides an opportunity for the training of additional crime prevention participants. Community partners are able to expand the “eyes and ears” of police officers within the USF campus community. The tools garnered in the training, equip participants to recognize and reduce possible criminal activity by increasing the prompt reporting of suspicious events.

In Bulls Watch, a series of crime prevention classes are offered to college students, faculty and area residents. The attendees of Bulls Watch cover Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) and Self Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (S.A.F.E.). The multi-session classes cover many aspects of staying safe as well as teaching the physical side of not becoming a victim. “Every woman has the natural instinct to resist rape aggression; the fight or flight syndrome. The RAD program channels that natural instinct into planned and practiced defensive techniques.  Students often return to describe how they have used the techniques we taught them to escape from dangerous situations. This is a program of empowerment,” said Sgt. Charlotte Domingo, USF Police Department.

On Feb. 9 in Tallahassee and June 4 in Pensacola, invested community leaders will have an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the pilot program and how it can be adapted to any neighborhood faced with challenges that are often the “root causes” of crime.  At a free, one-day symposium Strategies for Safe and Sustainable Communities, Attorney General Bill McCollum and speakers actively involved in the pilot program will share highlights from this initiative and make it applicable to attending guests. The symposium shares the process and importance of engaging the skills and resources of local residents, businesses, community organizations, government agencies and educational institutions to promote the development of a safer environment.

Combining all these components, the USF Florida Institute of Government is dedicated to making a positive change for all those who live and work in the Tampa Bay area. Investing in the quality and efficiency of public safety is just one of the ways in which the FIOG strives to help improve government in the State of Florida.


Angela Crist is director of the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.