Wednesday, September 05, 2007

McGruff House Update

A few weeks ago Tom Henry released his plan to implement a version of the McGruff House program here in Fort Wayne. The program is designed to provide safe houses throughout the community that children can use if they feel threatened. However, AWB linked to some stories about cities that had discontinued the program citing its ineffectiveness.

I decided to do my own research and contact the national McGruff House director and a few of the cities that were listed as having large McGruff House programs. The following is representative of what I sent to everyone:
There are some in my community (Ft Wayne, IN) that are pushing for local leaders to implement the McGruff House program. However, there are others that claim the program is ineffective and they cite a few cities that have recently did away with the program as an example.

I was hoping you could give me some insight/data on the effectiveness of the program in your community that I could share with everyone in my community.

Thank You

Unfortunately after 3 weeks I have only received one response and it is does not speak well to the program's effectiveness:
Mr. Pruitt,

I conducted research in our state on the program last year and can advise you that we have found it to be ineffective under our guidelines. Most of the jurisdictions that did have the program have either discontinued it or had it die of its own. Some of the issues were that the officers could not educates students about the program as before due to required Standards of Learning training requirements taking all time set aside for the program. I found that most of the programs did not comply with reporting requirements to the state. Most had not inspected the homes and rechecked the homes on a continuing basis and so on. Few of the houses had received any use as the program was designed for. A final issue was the background check and cost thereof. We have had jurisdictions create their own "Safehouse" program but I do not know how that is going.

Hope this helps,
Rick Arrington
Virginia Criminal Justice Program Analyst

I think it's a very troubling sign that the national director didn't even bother to respond to my request for information. Without any evidence to the contrary, I have no choice but to concur with Arrington's research/opinion that the program is ineffective and thus should not be implemented here in Fort Wayne...

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Jeff,

I think a key issue here is that the Henry "Safehouse" proposal will be "modeled" after McGruff- but not the same program.

There are some factors present in Fort Wayne that are NOT present in other cities- A strong neighborhood association program (the area partnerships) and a strong school PTA group.

They are the key components to making this work.

Across the country, many "Neighborhood Watch" programs failed. However, here in Fort Wayne, we have several successful ones, especially in the 4th district, which were championed by Tom Hayhurst.

These ideas take work, but they can improve our community.