Community-based strategic planning is the act of setting calculated goals based on areas of interest and need which are identified by key stakeholders in the community. Some community-based strategic planning efforts will address a small geographic area such as a neighborhood while others will address a larger area such as a county, region, or state. When defining your planning community consider a variety of factors such as: geographic location and natural boundaries; community-based government, non-profit and religious organizations; professional communities such as business, law enforcement, public health, education, emergency management and so on. Some community-based planning efforts will involve a variety of communities. Identifying and including key stakeholders from every community that will be affected is critical to successful planning and implementation efforts.
States and units of local government increasingly are embracing a “bottom-up” approach to criminal justice planning and adopting strategies to empower local officials and community members in their fight against crime. Planning models of this sort focus on locally defined concerns and priorities and promote collaboration between state and local agencies and among community members and neighborhood institutions. The models may also involve the state coordinating various funding streams -- both federal and state -- to help communities maximize available resources. In states where this type of planning has been implemented, there is evidence that struggling communities have been able to form important partnerships among agencies and institutions whose activities traditionally have been isolated. In these models, the state relinquishes its traditional agenda-setting capacity and provides support to community coalitions through leadership, training and technical assistance, and financial resources.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) convened a group of criminal justice planning experts to identify common elements of successful community-based justice planning. This group distilled the common components into four essential elements: