Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of the factors contributing to it. Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem.
The following response strategies provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular problem. These strategies are drawn from a variety of research studies and police reports. Several of these strategies may apply to your community’s problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: carefully consider who in your community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. The responsibility of responding, in some cases, may need to be shifted toward those who have the capacity to implement more effective responses. (For more detailed information on shifting and sharing responsibility, see Response Guide No. 3, Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems).
As discussed in the previous sections, while drive-by shootings are often gang-related, they are also carried out by people who are not affiliated with gangs and who execute a drive–by shooting during the course of interpersonal conflict. These incidents are both random and unpredictable and do not lend themselves well to a problem–oriented response strategy. Therefore, most of the responses discussed below address those drive-by shootings carried out by gang members.
† Responses that intensify enforcement activities, target high-risk offenders, or obtain consent to search private property must be supported by precise documentation that will protect the department from alleged civil rights violations if challenged in court.
† See the POP Guide titled The Benefits and Consequences of Police Crackdowns (Scott 2003) for a more thorough discussion of crackdowns.
† This approach has been used successfully in Kansas City, Mo.; Indianapolis; and Dallas; among other places (see Sherman, Shaw, and Rogan 1995 [PDF]; McGarrell, Chermak, and Weiss 2002 [PDF]; and Fritsch, Caeti, and Taylor 1999). In Kansas City, Mo., directed patrol activities using traffic stops resulted in a 65 percent increase in gun seizures and a 49 percent reduction in gun violence (e.g., homicides, drive-by shootings) versus a comparison area, without causing displacement (Sherman, Shaw, and Rogan 1995 [PDF]).
Police can also set up roadblocks or checkpoints to identify and confiscate illegal weapons.†A careful strategy should be developed to avoid claims of unlawful searches or racial profiling.33 In addition, police should try to minimize the inconvenience to law-abiding residents. Police should meet with residents and community group leaders to explain the initiative and gain their support before implementation.34 Further, officers should be trained to treat residents with respect and to clearly explain the reason for their being stopped. Community support is also vital, and thus police should meet with community leaders, businesspeople and residents whom crackdown activities will affect. One benefit to this approach is that crackdowns and checkpoints do not require complex coordination with other agencies and therefore can be implemented relatively quickly.
† Crawford (1998) [PDF]offers several recommendations for ensuring that checkpoints do not raise Fourth Amendment concerns. Among them: the purpose of the checkpoint must clearly advance the public’s interest in resolving a serious community problem; residents should be given advanced notice and signs should be posted; officers must give clearly worded explanations for the stop and should limit its duration; all cars should be stopped to diminish fear or surprise; searches should not be conducted unless the situation gives rise to one of the search warrant exceptions; and legal consult should be sought before implementation.
† In St. Louis, Mo., the Consent to Search program yielded a high cooperation level (98 percent of those approached gave consent for their homes to be searched) and a high gun volume (guns were seized in half the homes searched, totaling 402 guns in the first year) (Decker and Rosenfeld 2004). Also, see Rosenfeld and Decker (1996) for a sample consent form.
† See the POP Guide titled Assaults in and Around Bars (Scott and Dedel 2006) for ideas on how lower-level tensions can be dissipated before they escalate into gun violence.
† Successful mediation of gang conflicts requires an awareness of the forces that can deter members from participating, and the needs and interests that must be satisfied once they agree to mediation. Jones (2002) identifies the following essential elements: 1) developing personal, positive, and trusting relationships between gang members and mediators; 2) offering “excuses” for participating in mediation that allow gang members to “save face”; 3) showing respect for the gang members and their conflict through the formality of the process and by requiring each side to listen to the other; and 4) personalizing members of each gang so that the hostility originating from group membership is less potent.
† The National Violent Injury Statistics System at the Harvard School of Public Health is a national reporting system for gun-related injuries involving collaborations between the public health community and police. More information is available at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nviss/index.htm. The San Antonio (Texas) Police Department developed a “Cops and Docs” program to foster two-way communication between police and emergency medical services. When a shooting occurs and the police do not identify the victim, an alert is sent to the hospital with a description and the suspected injury’s location. Conversely, when a gunshot victim seeks medical attention, the emergency room staff fax an injury report to police (David 1997 [PDF]).
Civil gang injunctions have been used to combat gangs in several jurisdictions in southern California and Texas. In collaboration with prosecutors, police gather evidence that individual gang members represent a public nuisance. This evidence can include the people’s criminal histories, community police officers’ statements, or residents’ statements. The injunction prohibits named people from participating in specific activities (e.g., associating with other gang members, loitering in parks, carrying pagers); violations are grounds for arrest. Research on the injunctions’ effectiveness is somewhat limited and has shown mixed results, but some jurisdictions have found them to result in decreased visibility of gang members, fewer episodes of gang intimidation, and reduced fear of crime among residents.41
† The Los Angeles Police Department determined that drive-by shootings were clustered on the periphery of a specific neighborhood, which was linked to major thoroughfares. They erected barriers to block the major roads leading to and from the neighborhood and supplemented them with high-visibility foot, bicycle, and horseback patrols. An immediate reduction in serious crime (e.g., homicides and drive-by shootings) was evident (Lasley 1998 [PDF]).
These closures block entry points and escape routes, forcing offenders to take a more circuitous route to their destination and often requiring them to backtrack to leave the area. The specific architecture of the closures should specify which streets will be closed, how they will be closed, how they will be supported by patrol, how they will be monitored, and when or whether to remove the barriers.† Traffic flow is a key consideration: traffic should be routed into streets that offer the lowest opportunities for drive-by shooting and other crime (e.g., avoiding gang members’ hangouts; focusing on routes bordered by open areas where the line of sight is unobstructed).42 This response is most effective when offenders are from outside of the target area, which can be difficult to ascertain given the complexity of gang turf boundaries. Given the impact of street closures on the residents’ normal daily activities, a wide range of stakeholder concerns must be addressed before implementation.43 Coordinating with first responders–firefighters, EMT’s, ambulance drivers, etc.–is essential to ensure their safe and efficient passage.
† See the POP Guide titled Closing Streets and Alleys To Reduce Crime (Clarke 2004) for guidance on implementing this response and on the considerable effort required to address stakeholders’ concerns.
† The El Paso (Texas) Police Department’s Response Team noted improved cooperation from witnesses and an increase in the number of cases cleared. Arrests were made within 24 hours in approximately 90 percent of shootings. In addition, the number of drive-by shootings decreased over time (El Paso Police Department 2002 [PDF]).
† See the POP Guide titled Witness Intimidation (Dedel 2006) for more information.
† See the POP Guide titled Gun Violence Among Serious Young Offenders (Braga 2004) for specific guidance on implementing this response.
† In 1992, the New York Police Department cordoned off an eight-block area of the Bronx, denying access to all motorists except residents, commercial vehicle drivers, those dropping off children, and those visiting church. Others wishing to enter the area were allowed to park and travel within the boundaries on foot. The checkpoint operated on a random schedule of six hours per day, three days per week. This response’s effectiveness in reducing the volume of drive-by shootings was not discussed in published research (Crawford 1998 [PDF]).
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