Drug Market Intervention Strategy

The streets of High Point's West End neighborhood, where the National Network's drug market
intervention was pioneered in 2004, have been reclaimed by the community.
Photo courtesy of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Overt drug markets – public street-corner dealing, drug houses, and the like – are amongst the most serious and toxic of public safety problems.  Invariably located in poor, minority, disadvantaged communities, they cause and facilitate a range of severe direct and indirect harms.  They ease initiation into drug use and support addiction; they draw local youth into the drug trade; they draw nonresident drive-through buyers into the neighborhood; they create attractive targets for armed robbers; they spur the creation of loose drug “crews,” who then feud with each other over turf and other sources of conflict; they lead to the acquisition and use of firearms; they encourage robbery, burglary, and other crimes by addicts; they lead to the loss of control of public space; they drive down property values, drive out businesses, and lead many residents who can to leave; and they create pro-drug, anti-school, and anti-work norms amongst youth. 

First demonstrated in High Point, North Carolina, in 2004 and often referred to as the “High Point Model,” the National Network’s drug market intervention strategy (DMI) is designed to close neighborhood drug markets permanently. Moving drug market by drug market in any particular jurisdiction, it identifies street-level dealers, arrests violent offenders, suspends cases for non-violent dealers, and brings together drug dealers, their families, law enforcement and criminal justice officials, service providers, and community leaders for a meeting that makes clear the dealing has to stop. It delivers a clear message that the community cares for the offenders but rejects their conduct, help is available, and renewed dealing will result in the activation of any existing cases.

Over the last six years, cities including High Point, NC, Hempstead, NY, Providence, RI, Nashville, TN, and Seattle, WA, and numerous others have implemented the drug market intervention strategy with dramatic effects.  In these cities, the strategy has repeatedly shut down the worst drug market areas in each community, without displacement, in ways that minimize the use of law enforcement, with the strong endorsement of the affected community, while maximizing the chances that dealers will be rehabilitated.

Watch this video for an introduction to DMI as implemented in High Point or review this PowerPoint presentation for a detailed overview of the strategy and its impact on violent crime in the first neighborhood to test it.