Since joining OJJDP in 2000 as a program manager, Scott Pestridge has focused on a variety of issues, including police and youth engagement, mentoring, juvenile justice system improvement, and missing and exploited children.
He currently serves as a senior program specialist in OJJDP’s Special Victims and Violent Offenders Division, where he manages the Office’s gang portfolio and a cooperative agreement with the National Gang Center. His 22-year tenure at the Department of Justice (DOJ) has afforded him the opportunity to contribute to a number of federal programs, both within and outside the agency. Each of those special assignments has allowed Scott to advance the work of OJJDP and increase collaboration across agencies.
In 2005, Scott served as a disaster recovery specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Iberia Parrish, LA, in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In 2010, he served with the National Commission on Children and Disasters, an independent, bipartisan body established by Congress and the President to draft recommendations to close gaps in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery for children. Scott’s effort was pivotal to the development of OJJDP’s 2011 guide, Emergency Planning for Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities.
In 2019, he completed a 4-month detail with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), which resulted in greater collaboration between the two offices on training and technical assistance focused on reducing gang violence and preventing youth from joining gangs.
The assignment followed Scott’s acceptance into the DOJ Leadership Excellence and Achievement Program (LEAP), a competitive program designed to identify individuals with management potential and provide them with training and development opportunities. The program requires candidates to take on a developmental assignment within DOJ or outside the department to build leadership collaboration skills and organizational awareness.
An assignment with the COPS Office seemed like the perfect opportunity to strengthen collaboration between the two offices while increasing OJJDP’s visibility among law enforcement agencies, Scott believed. He had worked in the COPS Office’s grant monitoring division for two years before moving to OJJDP.
"The LEAP detail afforded me the opportunity to connect with the culture and priorities of a different component within DOJ, and resulted in a greater sense of purpose in the shared responsibility that our positions represent."
—Scott Pestridge, OJJDP Senior Program Specialist
While the primary objective of his assignment with the COPS Office was identifying opportunities for collaboration with OJJDP, Scott also offered guidance to the COPS Office managers on ways to increase youth involvement in its gang suppression and diversion programs.
Scott’s detail culminated with his planning of a focus group on gang suppression at the October 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference. The session explored the training and technical assistance (TTA) needs of law enforcement agencies to enhance their gang deterrence efforts and educated participants about TTA offered by DOJ. The session provided participants an opportunity to discuss emerging gang problems in their jurisdictions and consider possible solutions to address them.
The focus group discussion provided valuable feedback. The session helped OJJDP tailor its gang-related funding opportunities to be more responsive to the needs of law enforcement agencies, Scott said. His work planning the session jointly with IACP also increased awareness within the law enforcement community about the resources offered by the National Gang Center.
One of the lasting benefits of his assignment at the COPS Office has been improved coordination between the TTA offered by the National Gang Center and the gang-specific assistance offered by the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC), the resource center supported by the COPS Office.
All of his temporary assignments have been rewarding, Scott says, especially as they have provided him the opportunity to strengthen OJJDP’s ties throughout DOJ and the federal government. “I am appreciative of the opportunities these details have afforded me to promote the work of OJJDP and build invaluable relationships with key partners that continue today,” he said.