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Project Summary

The Criminal Crisis Response Initiative project (CCRI) is a community-based, multi-disciplinary, inter-agency, assessment and planning process designed by JIJS.  This facilitated process assists communities in the design, development and implementation of a long-range plan for the establishment of a formal collaborative of their victims service providers.  the intent of this collaborative is to coordinate the delivery of resources and services to victims of an act of criminal mass victimization (CMV) such as the Oklahoma City bombing and Littleton, CO high school shootings.

This project is supported by a cooperative agreement with the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (1999-VF-GX-K008).

Establishing a community-based CCRI involves all primary service provider agencies in a community that deliver services to the victims of crime.  CCRI assists community-based, multidisciplinary work groups in assessing their present plans, procedures, resources and ability to respond to the needs of multiple victims of a criminal act.

Tools developed by the CCRI project include a community self-assessment instrument, and other work products to assist the community CCRI Workgroup in assessing current community and agency resources and identify future needs.

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Critical Factors for Implementation

Based on a review of the pertinent literature, program experience, review of selected existing victim service programs and interviews with the practitioners, JIJS has identified a list of factors critical to the successful implementation of the CCRI. These factors are:

Agency involvement and commitment
Self-assessment and planning
Coordination and collaboration of services
Integration into Incident Command System
Program ownership

Agency Involvement and Commitment

Since all agencies involved in a community’s response to CMC have contact with the victims, they should be participants in this process. Even if they are not a direct victim service provider, they will be responsible for making victim referrals. Therefore, to make effective referrals they must have knowledge and understanding of the services and capabilities of the direct victim service providers.

The commitment to this program must be genuine and begins with the support of each agency’s chief and upper-level management. Agency CEOs are directly involved in all three phases of the process. To begin the process, they must designate an appropriate agency representative to participate in the CCRI Planning Workgroup. The CCRI Planning Workgroup is responsible for gathering the information needed to complete the agency and community self-assessment (Phase I), and work with JIJS in coordinating and conducting the on-site assessment (Phase II). Additionally, the CEO must be willing to assign additional agency personnel to participate in the one-week community plan development work session facilitated by JIJS (Phase III). Finally, the CEO must designate an appropriate agency representative and alternate to be an active member of the CCRI Implementation Team. This team is responsible for implementing the community’s long-range plan developed in Phase III.

CEOs should recognize that their commitment to the process may requires them to examine the interface between the CCRI Implementation Plan and existing agency policies and procedures. CEOs may have to make changes to policies and procedures that will enable their agency 7to function more effectively in a multidisciplinary environment.

Without the commitment of the agency CEOs and designation of resources to the program an agency cannot function in the CCRI. Failure of agencies or organizations to participate decrease the ability of the other agencies/organizations to implement and sustain the CCRI program in their community.

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Self-Assessment and Planning

Self-assessment and planning are the most critical factor for establishing and sustaining a community-based multidisciplinary program. Self-assessment requires agencies to examine themselves and the community-at-large. It identifies strengths and weaknesses in resources, communication, and the ability and willingness of the various entities to work together under stress. The agencies look at their overall personnel and fiscal resources and their track record relating to communication and collaboration with public and private agencies and organizations. Assessing a community’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas can best be done by the agencies themselves. For this reason, JIJS has developed and will provide the communities with a self-assessment tool to guide the CCRI Workgroup through the process of gathering agency and community information. This information is then forwarded to JIJS where it will synthesize it into a confidential community profile.

Although all communities may address common issues, no two communities are the same. They are as unique as human beings, with their own needs, resources, issues and priorities which are greatly influenced by their demographics, cultural and ethnic diversity, and their experiences. It is also important to realize that every community is fluid and constantly changing. For example, a community that has experienced the nonfamily or stranger abduction of a child will become much more attuned to educating their citizens and being prepared in the future. With this, a very noticeable shift in public and private agency/organization priorities takes place with the education of the community and professionals on this issue becoming a top priority.

Because of this individuality, what has worked very successfully in one community will most likely fail miserably in another community. Experience has demonstrated that "template," "model" or "blueprint" program approaches do not work, and, because a community is reluctant to try again after failure, models can do more harm than good. Therefore, program planning must be an ongoing process.

Failure to recognize the fluid nature of planning and use a "systematic management approach" insure that plans will quickly become outdated and ineffective. This situation can be avoided if the process begins with a solid foundation (community self-assessment) and a long-range strategic plan. A long-range strategic plan provides the community with a "road map" of where they intend to go and how they intend to get there. The plan is developed by representatives of the involved agencies that come together for a one-week planning and work session that is hosted and facilitated by JIJS. This work session culminates with the agency representatives presenting their recommended plan of action to the agency CEOs for review, comment and approval.

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Coordination and Collaboration of Victim Services

Acts of CMV such as the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine High School and other similar incidents have demonstrated that communities must be prepared to deal with victim service issues in the immediate, short and long-term phases of a CMC. A community faced with the overwhelming task of dealing with an act of CMV needs all available victim service resources that can be provided. Victim service providers must be prepared to sustain a drastically increased workload for a prolonged period of time. This can only be accomplished if the victim service providers coordinate and collaborate on the delivery of services. Only in this way can agencies/organizations insure that appropriate protocols for sharing of "case relevant" and "case appropriate" information across agency boundaries are developed and implemented. Protocols identify which agency is best qualified, capable and responsible for the delivery of a specific service, and how they will refocus and share existing resources to meet the needs of the community.

To avoid the fragmentation and unnecessary duplication of services to victims and wasted use of limited resources requires that the various agencies, organizations and disciplines be actively involved in preplanning and preparation for an act of CMV in their community.

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Integration Into the Incident Command System Structure

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a model system used by public safety agencies (law enforcement, fire and rescue, and other emergency response agencies) for the command, control, coordination and management of agencies and/or units during the response to an emergency incident. Developed in the 1970s, it has become a standard management approach for incidents of CMV.

Until recently, victim services has not been recognized as an integral part of the ICS structure. If it was part of the ICS structure, it was a sub-component of one of the agencies. Once a community has established the CCRI it should be incorporated into the ICS structure as a major component on the same level with others. This will enable the collaborative of the victim service provider agencies/organizations to deliver the wide array of victim services needed in a CMC.

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Program Ownership

For a community’s CCRI program to be accepted and institutionalized as a way of doing business, the agency personnel at all levels must perceive that this is their program, and that it is unique to their community. Successful programs must create a "grassroots" ownership. This is accomplished by ensuring that all appropriate agencies and disciplines are identified and involved in the beginning of the process; developing a program that reflects the input and priorities of all persons involved in providing services or making referrals; and ensuring that the implementation plan is developed by the individuals who are responsible for the hands-on implementation.

In the event of a CMC, the public is the direct recipient of services coordinated through the CCRI. For this reason, the community must feel ownership of the program and have confidence in its value. Therefore, it is crucial that the public is continuously informed about the program’s progress and accomplishments.

JIJS’s approach to the self-assessment and planning process for establishing the CCRI program in a community builds this type of ownership. Once a community establishes a CCRI Planning Workgroup to conduct the community self-assessment, JIJS project staff works closely with them to identify all potential players within the community and to involve them in the process. Equally important, JIJS project staff facilitates the involvement of each agencies’ frontline personnel in the Phase III one-week planning development session.

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A critical requirement for any successful program is training. Personnel to be trained for the implementation of the CCRI will focus in two major areas. One group is agency personnel who will be assigned to the CCRI Implementation Team. The other group encompasses all other agency personnel.

Agency representatives assigned to the CCRI Implementation Team will need training in team problem solving, cooperatively working in a multidisciplinary environment, design and development of interagency protocols as well as the actual skill-based training that will enable them to work as part of a Crisis Response Team.

As they are approved and adopted for implementation by the CEOs, the other agency personnel will need to be provided with ongoing in-service training on the policies, procedures and protocols that are developed and/or updated by the CCRI Implementation Team, and training on making appropriate referrals to the victims service providers. It is anticipated that this training will be designed and presented through a multidisciplinary effort of the CCRI Implementation Team.

Additionally, the actual multidisciplinary Crisis Response Teams will be made up of the other agency personnel. This will require that these individuals be provided with specific skills-based training on crisis intervention. It is anticipated that the resources for this training will come from the state and federal agencies.

Training resources (internal and external) needed will vary from community to community based on their needs and existing resources. Determining the training needs of the community will be one aspect of the responsibility of the CCRI Implementation Team.

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Revised: March 13, 2002
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