Project Safe Neighborhoods International Exchange

November 27, 2018

On October 23-25, 2018, MSU’s Heather Perez, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator, facilitated an international exchange of Chilean justice system representatives and a team of criminal justice officials and community members in Atlanta, Georgia. The Director of Public Security for the City of Los Condes, Chile, Javiera Benitez, led the 24-member Chilean delegation.

Ms. Benitez had contacted Heather in the fall of 2017 to inquire about training and technical assistance for the High Point Drug Market Intervention (DMI) model, an evidence-based strategy. Ms. Benitez wanted a team from Chile to not only learn the model but to actually engage with a city that had fully implemented a DMI.

Atlanta was chosen as the exchange site for two reasons. In the fall of 2014, MSU led a training team of four individuals that provided PSN supported DMI training for the core partners in Atlanta. In the summer of 2015, the DMI was implemented in the Atlanta neighborhood of English Avenue. The neighborhood has experienced great improvement in many ways over the last three years. Secondly, the Atlanta DMI point of contact is fluent in Spanish and has presented internationally on the DMI model.

The United States Attorney of the Northern District of Georgia, Members attending PSNByung J. Pak, welcomed the team to kick off the training. Day 1 entailed working through the nine steps of the DMI model. The majority of Day 2 was spent in English Avenue. A community meeting was convened at the AT-Promise Center, where three DMI-involved offenders, community members, faith leaders and social service providers addressed the Chilean team about their experiences and support of the model. This was a powerful interaction. The remainder of Day 2 was spent at Atlanta Police Department (APD) Headquarters. Several Atlanta law enforcement partners from local, state, and federal levels engaged the Chilean team in conversation about roles and responsibilities. A summary of the training, planning next steps for the Chilean team, and a tour the APD real time crime center consumed Day 3.

The training team consisted of:

  • Marty Sumner, retired Chief of Police of High Point, North Carolina and architect of the nine steps
  • Laurel Boatright, Assistant United States Attorney, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta’s PSN DMI point of contact
  • Shila Hawk, Applied Research Services, Inc.
  • Alba Males, Interpreter
  • Heather Perez, PSN Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator (MSU)

In addition to the core training team, the exchange was supported by the assistance of Lt. Colonel and Commander of the Georgia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, James McNair, Warrant Officer, Alberto Fregoso and Specialist, Trey Armor who provided transportation over the three days. Danielle Whylly, Community Outreach Specialist, Northern District of Georgia and Didi Nelson, Law Enforcement Coordinator, Northern District of Georgia, were instrumental in pre-training logistics and onsite assistance and arrangements during the duration of the visit.

The Chilean team was made up of the Director of Public Safety, a judge, municipal police, national police, prosecutors, social service providers, the public information officer for the Mayor’s Office, City Council members and community residents.

Full Group at PSN