Programs & Strategies Addressing Gun Violence

Programs Addressing Gun Violence

 

Operation Ceasefire
Police teaming up with community groups and researchers to apply an evidence-based approach to gun violence. The two main elements included a direct attack on illicit firearms traffickers and a set of intervention actions that gave gang members a strong deterrent to gun violence. Police placed enforcement pressure on gang members to discourage them from carrying guns and also called for efforts for the gang members to spread the word about increased enforcement. This “pulling levers” approach included the threat of a wide variety of penalties, from going to prison for parole violation to receiving 10 years without parole in a federal penitentiary. Boston’s Operation Ceasefire reduced firearm violence by 68% in one year.

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Project Safe Neighborhoods
Nationwide strategy aimed to reduce gun violence at the local level. It was designed as a collaborative problem solving initiative utilizing a strategic research-based model to reduce firearms violence through enforcement, deterrence, and prevention. At the core of the strategy was the increased federal prosecution of illegal gun use and illegal gun possession by prohibited persons. Increased federal prosecution was intended to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders. However, it was also recognized that exclusive reliance on increased federal prosecution was of limited utility given the reality that most gun crime is prosecuted in state and local courts. Because of this, PSN was framed on five key components: 1) partnerships; 2) strategic planning and research integration; 3) training; 4) outreach; and 5) accountability. The intent was that these components would maximize the investment of federal resources through a focus on the contexts driving gun crime in particular jurisdictions. Research would assist in focusing resources and local and state partners would bring understanding of local conditions as well as resources to the interventions.

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Project Exile
Project Exile was a crime reduction strategy launched in 1997 in Virginia, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as a result of the spike in violent crime rates in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During these years, Richmond, Virginia consistently ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities in homicides per capita. Specifically, in 1994, Richmond was ranked 2nd for homicides per capita, with a homicide rate of 80 per 100,000 residents. Overall, the goal of the project was to deter felons from carrying firearms and decrease firearm-related homicides through both sentence enhancements for firearm-related offenses and incapacitating violent felons.

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Operation Peacekeeper
Since 1998, the Operation Peacekeeper Gang Outreach Program has played a key role in local efforts to reduce gang homicides. The program has evolved into a comprehensive effort where youth are offered both a mentor and a variety of resources. It mentors youth and young adults with the highest risk of gang involvement, particularly serious gun-related violence, and provides positive alternatives for a healthier, non-violent lifestyle. Outreach workers are trained in conflict resolution, mediation, community organizing, mentoring, and case management.

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Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI)
The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI) was implemented in 12 select cities in response to increasing gang prevalence across the country. The main purpose of the CAGI was to prevent and reduce gang-related crime. The CAGI was comprised of specific components, including enforcement strategies and partnerships, prevention and intervention strategies, and reentry/outreach programs. Enforcement strategies varied by jurisdiction, and included increased federal prosecution, increased state and local prosecution, joint case prosecution screening, and directed police patrols and field interrogations. Prevention and intervention strategies also varied depending on the jurisdiction, and included skills building services, education and outreach, school-based prevention, and substance abuse treatment. Reentry programs focused on outreach and linking services to gang-involved inmates who were returning from prison.

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Cure Violence
Cure Violence (formerly known as CeaseFire—Chicago) is a Chicago, Illinois–based violence prevention program administered by the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention. Cure Violence uses an evidence-based public health approach to reduce shootings and killings by using highly trained street violence interrupters and outreach workers, public education campaigns, and community mobilization. Rather than aiming to directly change the behaviors of a large number of individuals, Cure Violence concentrates on changing the behavior and risky activities of a small number of selected members of the community who have a high chance of either “being shot” or “being a shooter” in the immediate future.

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Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP)
The Indianapolis (Ind.) Violence Reduction Partnership (IVRP) was created in response to high levels of gun-related homicides in Indianapolis during the 1990s. It was a replication of the “Project Ceasefire” initiative by the Boston (Mass.) Police Department, which simultaneously held meetings with gang members to communicate a message of deterrence and launched a gang crackdown. Inspired by the success of the Boston initiative, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department created its own version of the program in 1998. The program used a specialized approach to reduce gun-related violence among those most at risk for offending, mainly gang-involved chronic offenders who used illegal firearms. The program was comprised of three stages: identification, implementation, and outreach. Identification of key offenders and patterns of offending, “lever pulling” meetings with probationers and parolees to send a message of deterrence, and outreach of community partners to supplement offenders with social services and ex-offender mentors.

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Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI)
SACSI was a national program that helped establish the value of multiagency, federal-local partnerships in responding to gun crime. All but one of the SACSI sites targeted homicide, youth violence and firearms violence. SACSI attempted to replicate in other cities the best practices from Boston’s Operation Ceasefire: multiagency collaboration, strategic problem solving and action research. Researchers found that — if well implemented — the SACSI approach reduced violent crime in the targeted communities, sometimes by as much as 50 percent. Key elements of the SACSI strategy were leadership by local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices within a collaborative, multiagency partnership, integration of researchers into planning and execution of intervention strategies, and design and implementation of interventions that incorporate tactics proven to reduce illegal gun carrying and use.

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Strategies Addressing Gun Violence

 

Focused Deterrence/Pulling Levers
Selecting a particular crime problem (such as youth homicide); convening an interagency working group that may include law enforcement, social service, and community-based practitioners; developing a response to offenders or groups of offenders that uses a variety of sanctions (“pulling levers”) to stop continued violent behavior; focusing social services and community resources on target offenders to match the prevention efforts by law enforcement; and directly and continually communicating with offenders to make them understand why they are receiving special attention (Braga and Weisburd 2012).

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Problem-Oriented Policing and Problem Solving
Identify concentrations of crime or criminal activity, determine what causes the concentrations, and implement responses to reduce the concentrations. Important findings from studies are that effective partnerships require extensive commitment of time, resources, and energy; prompt and local data is key; the integration of researchers and analysts is integral; and it may require some organizational change.

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Federal-Local Collaboration
In general, such collaboration provides advantages for local law enforcement facing high rates of gun violence. Federal penalties for firearm violations are general more severe than state penalties, and federal law enforcement officers may have access to better intelligence.

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Directed Patrol
Officers dedicated to the program (do not always respond to calls for service) to concentrate on suspicious activities and high-risk offenders, and to provide a deterrent effect in high-crime areas. The idea is to incapacitate dangerous offenders and remove illegal guns from the streets.

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Identifying Hot Spots
The use of crime analysis to locate concentrations of crime, types of crime being committed, and other information that helps craft the most effective responses. In these concentrated areas, law enforcement can focus limited resources on a small number of high-activity crime areas

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Action Research
The use of crime analysis to locate concentrations of crime, types of crime being committed, and other information that helps craft the most effective responses. In these concentrated areas, law enforcement can focus limited resources on a small number of high-activity crime areas

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