Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Additional Resources

Abstracts of publications that have appeared since this guide was written

Reducing gun violence: Results from an intervention in East Los Angeles. Tita, G., K.J. Riley, G. Ridgeway, et al. (2003). Santa Monica, CA: Rand. — http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1764/MR1764.pdf

The success of the Boston Gun Project (1996) led the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to fund a project assessing whether the process used to reduce gun violence by youths in Boston could be adapted elsewhere. The Los Angeles Police Department Hollenbeck area — a 15-square mile area east of downtown Los Angeles that encompasses a population of approximately 200,000 and the communities of El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights — was chosen for the replication of the Boston Gun Project described in this report. Among other features, the intervention plan in Hollenbeck was to include: increased Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) patrols in the immediate geographic area; deployment of officers from specialized police units to the broader neighborhood and additional police patrols in public parks; and referral of gun law violations to federal prosecutors. In assessing the effects of the intervention, three questions were examined, specifically, regarding whether the intervention might have been associated with reductions in the following: violent crime, gang crime, and gun crime. To address these questions, data were obtained for a 12 month period (2000-2001) from two different LAPD files; the first including all violent crime incidents, and the second including violent crimes and other incidents in which the victim or offender is known to be a victim of a gang.

After the intervention, gang crime in Boyle Heights decreased significantly compared with other regions of Hollenbeck during the suppression period of the intervention, and violent, gang, and gun crime all decreased significantly in the deterrence period. The significant reduction in gang crime may have begun in the suppression period. Violent crime, however, did not decrease significantly in the suppression period. In the five targeted police reporting districts, violent crime decreased significantly in comparison with the rest of Boyle Heights in the suppression and the deterrence periods decreased significantly in comparison with the remainder of Boyle Heights, although the generally low number of gun crimes in the targeted reporting districts makes it difficult to detect significant changes. In the Census block groups overlapping the targeted reporting districts, violent crime decreased significantly compared with the matched blocks. The data suggest that some of this significant reduction may have persisted into the deterrence period. Whereas gang and gun crime did not decrease significantly, low numbers of these crimes made it difficult to detect significant changes. Overall, the replication of the Boston process in Hollenbeck succeeded in that it used data analysis to identify both problems and potential interventions and led a working group like the one in Boston to implement a well-designed intervention that helped to reduce gang crime and violent crime in the targeted area. However, the intervention was not implemented as designed, and it never developed dynamically or in response to changing needs. Nevertheless, only with the collection of cost information can a final evaluation be made of whether the effort was worthwhile.

Gun Violence and Police Problem Solving: A Research Note Examining Alternative Data Sources. Burruss, G.M., and S.H. Decker (2003). Journal of Criminal Justice, 30(6):567-574.

This study uses gun seizure data from the gun lab of the St. Louis Police Department to examine a problem-solving approach to seizing illegal firearms. Specifically, it explores narrative data from the police reports to understand the context surrounding 113 firearms seizures in 1995. The most important findings are that most illegal firearms are seized by the police department in the course of routine patrol, and that many seemingly nonviolent technical law violations (e.g., the unlawful carrying, use, or concealment of a firearm) often occur under violent circumstances. Cases where the police apprehended an offender in conjunction with a serious violent or property crime yielded few guns. Given the paucity of gun research that links guns to police actions, future studies should use multiple data sources to further explain the gun/crime relationship. In addition, this research underscores the value of routine police patrol mobilizations, particularly traffic and pedestrian stops.