John Johansen is waging a battle against crime in the Washington, DC metropolitan area while proving that the pen is mightier than the sword. His weapon of choice is an all-volunteer newspaper called Crime Prevention Bulletin. Using the power of the press to achieve his goal, Johansen's public safety initiative has won praise from law enforcement officials and citizens alike. By linking the police and the community, he provides a much needed community service to a segment of the population that often lives in fear of crime.
Investing $6,000 of his own money, Johansen started the Crime Prevention Bulletin because of high crime rates in the area. Because of the fear factor, he considers himself a victim of crime although he has never personally been subject to a robbery or mugging. The first issue of the Bulletin was published in July and the newsletter led to the arrest of 15 fugitives in its first year. In a particular case in April of 1994, Robert Lindsey had forced his way into a Southeast Washington apartment and shot 16-year-old Denise Slaughter and two of her family members in the head. A few days after Lindsey's information was printed in the Crime Prevention Bulletin, a reader spotted the fugitive and tipped off police whom later apprehended Lindsey. Lindsey's arrest was only one of many success stories that can be accredited to Johansen's safety initiative.
In each issue of the Crime Prevention Bulletin, which is published quarterly, Johansen features photographs and descriptions of wanted persons and missing children. This makes the public aware of wanted felons within their community. The free publication also includes child abuse prevention information, crime prevention tips and features on police officers and citizens that are helping to fight crime. More than 50 volunteers distribute The Crime Prevention Bulletin to retail establishments in some of the most underserved neighborhoods in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Persons with information regarding crimes are instructed to call and can do so anonymously. This gives citizens the opportunity to take the offensive and assist in the apprehension of wanted criminals. According to the Chief of Police of the City of Alexandria, the publication's distribution has generated tips on fugitives from every jurisdiction in the area. Moreover, the effectiveness of the Crime Prevention Bulletin is evident by its solid impact on crime in the city. The information contained in the Bulletin has led to the apprehension of more than 100 fugitives. These arrests, a product of Johansen's efforts, bring closure to the victims of crime and their families. Meanwhile, the information contained in the Bulletin continues to empower the community with essential crime prevention information and build support for and understanding of the police.
Mr. Johansen has upheld his commitment to preventing crime for nearly five years, without compensation and with threats on his life. His charity publication unites inner city residents and suburbanites with police under a common goal—taking back their streets.