Southeastern Community Oriented Policing Education (SCOPE) is a Regional Community Policing Institute (RCPI) formed by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office to provide assessment, planning, technical assistance, and instruction to law enforcement agencies and communities in Tennessee and seven surrounding states. Its specialty area is to build and sustain community policing. The SCOPE staff focuses on the issue of youth violence so that teens, as well as adults, have the opportunity to gain skills while working to make their communities a safer place to live.
A community policing team consisting of various community representatives is formed in each participating community. The SCOPE RCPI provide skilled facilitators to assist with the initial organizational meeting of the team, teach problem solving skills, and bring in other subject matter experts to teach community and agency representatives the process for successful organizational transformation. The Challenge to Change model is distinctive in that it provides communities the flexibility necessary to determine the problems they face and develop solutions that will work in their community. By introducing the problem solving techniques that have been successful in community policing, the SCOPE facilitators encourage team members to focus on problems that are unique to their community.
The Challenge to Change project focuses on the reduction of youth violence and brings all the service providers; educators, community volunteers and most importantly – the young people together to participate in an ongoing community improvement program. The project was developed by The University of Tennessee’s SCOPE RCPI in December 1998 to combat youth violence. The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services approved the plan, and SCOPE has provided these services and technical assistance to a total of eleven communities in seven southeastern states.
The Challenge to Change model relies heavily on the involvement of youth members on the community policing team and includes a ten-month project timeline so that both short and long-term successes are experienced. While many programs initially meet with success, the Challenge to Change model is consistently effective in meeting the needs of young people in communities throughout their region. One project was so immediately successful it was adopted as the statewide model for all schools to follow during the 2000 school year. A Youth Summit was convened in Knoxville during 2000, and more than 200 Challenge to Change participants (teens and adults) met to learn about topics of importance to young people. Most importantly, the teams developed an action plan to take back to their communities that will help them combat youth violence in their schools and neighborhoods.
The SCOPE staff is working to select the 2001 Challenge to Change communities, and they planned the 2001 Youth Summit. While their model undergoes occasional refinement, the successes of the first and second year participants continue to positively impact the communities with a reduction in the incidents of youth and school violence.