The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is arguably the best known and best funded private nonprofit organization devoted to the reduction of crime and the promotion of personal and community safety in the United States today. Through their publications, conferences, the Mc Gruff campaign, and other activities, NCPC’s impact extends worldwide, influencing mass media safety campaigns and crime prevention programs in thousands of communities in several dozen countries.
The roots of NCPC go back to the 1970s when there were a number of federal, state, and local initiatives to address issues of crime in a so-called proactive as opposed to reactive manner. Public concern about crime and safety had risen to alarming levels. Through funds available from the now-defunct Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, various local, state, and regional associations of crime prevention police officers had begun, and programs such as Neighborhood Watch were widely promoted.
In the late 1970s, a coalition of state and national organizations, both public and private, founded the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign. They teamed up with the Advertising Council, which had a long history of developing information campaigns utilizing volunteer talent from private sector marketing and advertising firms on a variety of public service topics, including the World War II slogan, “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” which is still in use today; the creation of Smokey the Bear, who reminds viewers that “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”; and the recent “I Am an American” campaign to promote awareness of America’s race and ethnic diversity.
In support of crime prevention, the Advertising Council and an advertising firm based in New York City developed a public service announcement for television that featured a dog wearing a trench coat and encouraging viewers to “Take a Bite Out of Crime.” In 1982, the dog was given the name McGruff, and he remains one of the most recognizable social marketing icons. That same year, the NCPC was officially founded. Nearly 3 decades later, it continues to promote safety and security in America’s communities through partnerships with the Advertising Council, the U.S. Department of Justice, a network of local and national crime prevention groups known as the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, and numerous corporate and foundation supporters.
Over the years, NCPC has sponsored or cosponsored a number of important nationwide safety initiatives, including the designation of October as “National Crime Prevention Month,” the National Night Out campaign, an annual national conference on crime prevention, and an incredible array of educational materials covering nearly every issue related to safety and security. NCPC continuously updates old materials and develops information on new safety issues, which recently have included involvement in the AMBER Alert campaign, identity theft, and homeland security. They have developed an extensive set of materials specifically focused on violence prevention, especially for teenagers. However, almost all their resources are either directly or indirectly relevant to issues of interpersonal violence. Through it all, McGruff the crime dog is the one constant woven into all of NCPC’s initiatives and educational materials.
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