Bucking The Trend On Violent Crime

High Point, N.C., was once so violent that police wouldn't get out of their patrol cars in some neighborhoods. As CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts reports, that's not the case any more.

What's going on in High Point is now a model for cities from Chicago to Tucson. First famous for its furniture, High Point is becoming famous for reducing violent crime — by shutting down drug dealers.

Here's the heart of it: Suspected drug dealers are called in to police headquarters and then get verbally strip-searched. Basically, they're given one last chance.

Community leaders like Pastor Quentin Boger provide the carrot.

"We are offering services to everybody that would like our help," he says. "We have partnered with the police department to say 'Enough is enough.'"

The police wield the stick.

"We've studied you, we've been paying people to watch you, we're very familiar with everything that you do," Police Chief Jim Fealy told one group of dealers that was called in.

The approach is the brainchild of criminologist David Kennedy, who dismisses the thought that High Point's approach sounds like "tree-hugging for criminals."

"It's not a hugathon," he says. "This is just common sense. You look people in the eye; you say there's right and there's wrong. There are consequences if you do wrong, but we want to help you."

But why should people believe this approach will work?

"This was really built up in very very pragmatic ways on the basis of what is actually motivating people," Kennedy says. "If the results are as real as they appear to be, then they will speak for themselves."

In the two years of the program, the violent crime rate, on the rise in other parts of the country, has dropped 20 percent in High Point. While the biggest drug dealers get hard time, the program targets small timers and wannabes.

"The revolving door is closed," says Fealy. "You test us, you lose — plain and simple."

It's law enforcement and the law abiding, speaking with one voice.