Thirty years ago people felt powerless, believing that only law enforcement officers could fight crime. Parks, street corners – and even schoolyards – were havens for criminals. But the leaders of 19 organizations decided enough was enough and worked together to develop the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign.
Working with the advertising firm of Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, now Saatchi and Saatchi, and The Advertising Council, the group spearheaded the creation of the Campaign’s media. Its first press release was issued in 1979 and, in February 1980, it aired its first televised public service announcement starring an unnamed dog in a trench coat who urged viewers to “Take A Bite Out Of Crime.”
That same year, these organizations and others joined forces as the Crime Prevention Coalition of America with the goal to reduce crime by helping citizens work individually and collectively with law enforcement. In 1982 the Coalition founded the National Crime Prevention Council to manage the Campaign, administer the Coalition, and promote crime prevention through trainings, technical assistance, and publications.
The unnamed canine soon became known as McGruff the Crime Dog. McGruff, who celebrated his 37th birthday in 2017, has become the beloved spokesdog of the crime prevention movement. Over the years McGruff’s messages have changed. In the beginning, his messages focused on personal and home safety. Today they address broader crime prevention concerns – from community preparedness to identity theft.
The Coalition’s 400-plus member organizations represent thousands of constituents and the National Crime Prevention Council has grown to be the nation’s premiere crime prevention agency, recognized widely for its knowledge, ability, and expertise.