This guide addresses serious youth gun violence, describing the problem and reviewing factors that increase the risks of it. It then identifies a series of questions that might help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem, and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice.
Criminal misuse of guns kills or injures tens of thousands of Americans every year. This violence imposes a heavy burden on our standard of living, not only on groups that have the highest victimization rates, but also on the community at large. By one estimate, this burden amounts to $80 billion per year. 1 Although overall U.S. homicide rates declined between the 1980s and 1990s, youth homicide, particularly gun homicide, increased dramatically. Between 1984 and 1994, juvenile (younger than 18) homicides committed with handguns increased by 418 percent, and juvenile homicides committed with other guns increased by 125 percent.2 During this time, adolescents (ages 14 to 17) had the largest proportional increase in homicide commission and victimization, young adults (ages 18 to 24) had the largest absolute increase, and there was much crossfire between the two age groups.3 Gun homicide accounted for all of the increase in youth homicide. The youth violence epidemic peaked in 1993 and was followed by a rapid, sustained drop over the rest of the 1990s.4 However, in 2000, more than 10,000 Americans were killed with guns, and guns are much more likely to be used in homicides of teens and young adults than in homicides of people of other ages.5
In urban areas, gun violence takes a particularly heavy toll, as vastly disproportionate numbers of young minority males are killed and injured, and increasing fear drives out businesses and disrupts community social life. Research has linked urban youth gun violence to gang conflicts, street drug markets, and gun availability.6 Youth gun violence is usually concentrated among groups of serious offenders and in very specific places.7
The police can prevent youth gun violence by focusing on identifiable risks. While gun violence seems to pervade our society, it is remarkably clustered among high-risk people, in high-risk places, at high-risk times. This concentration of violence provides an important opportunity for police to strategically address a seemingly intractable problem.
For police agencies, the most pressing concerns regarding youth gun violence are why offenders target particular people, at particular places, at particular times. However, it is also important to recognize that youth gun violence is often linked to a variety of risk factors beyond the scope of problem-oriented policing. For example, it has been linked to changing demographics, adverse economic conditions, family disruption, media violence, and poor parenting skills.8 These are sometimes considered the “root causes” of the problem. However, by the time gun violence problems come to police attention, the broader questions of why youth offend are no longer relevant. While police often help people access social services, they are best positioned to prevent youth gun crimes by focusing on the situational opportunities for offending rather than trying to change those socioeconomic conditions on which other government agencies primarily focus. Thinking about how likely offenders, potential victims, and others are to make decisions based on perceived opportunities is more useful in designing effective problem-oriented policing interventions.9
Youth gun violence is only one of many youth-related problems police must handle. The following require separate analysis and response:
Understanding the factors that contribute to your youth gun violence problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses. Research has shown that crime problems tend to cluster among a few offenders, victims, and places. Youth gun violence is similarly concentrated among a few offenders in a few places. This section reviews what is known from criminal profiles of youth gun offenders and victims, addresses the importance of gangs and criminally active groups in youth gun violence, and discusses the clustering in location and time of youth gun violence. It is important to note that the problem frames vary across the studies described below. In many jurisdictions, an initial interest in “juvenile violence” or “gun violence” shifted, as the problem assessments proceeded, to a focus on understanding and controlling violence, regardless of age or weapon type. However, in all cities, youth gun violence was the most important component of the problem. For example, in Minneapolis, problem-oriented research conducted on an emergent total homicide problem found that homicide was largely committed by youth ages 24 and under, who used guns and were known to the criminal justice system.10
Youth gun violence is concentrated among serious offenders well known to police and other criminal justice agencies. In Boston, an interagency group of law enforcement personnel, youth workers, and researchers examined the criminal histories of youth ages 21 and under killed by gun or knife in the city between 1990 and 1994, and of the youth offenders responsible.11 Of the victims, 75 percent had been arraigned for at least one offense in Massachusetts courts, and 20 percent had served time in a youth or adult detention center. Nearly 50 percent had been on probation in the past, and many were on probation when they were killed. Of the offenders, a little over 75 percent had been arraigned for at least one offense in Massachusetts courts, 25 percent had served time, over 50 percent had been on probation in the past, and 25 percent were on probation when they committed the crime. Victims and offenders known to the criminal justice system had an average of nearly 10 prior arraignments, and nearly 50 percent had 10 or more arraignments. They had been arraigned for a wide variety of crimes, including armed violent offenses, disorder offenses, and drug offenses. In gang literature, this wide range of offending is described as “cafeteria-style” offending.12
A number of other jurisdictions have reported similar findings. In Minneapolis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Stockton, Calif., gun violence was largely committed by and against youth with extensive criminal backgrounds.13
Youth gun violence is concentrated among feuding gangs and criminally active groups. The Boston interagency group examined the circumstances of the youth gun and knife murders and found that nearly two-thirds were gang-related.14 Most of the murders were not linked to drug dealing or other “business” interests; instead, most resulted from relatively long-standing gang feuds. In Minneapolis, nearly two-thirds of youth murders between 1994 and 1997 were gang-related.15 In the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, slightly less than two-thirds of youth gun homicides were gang-related. Another 25 percent involved gang members as victims or offenders, but were motivated for reasons other than gang rivalries.16
Even in neighborhoods suffering from high rates of youth gun violence, most youth are not in gangs and criminally active groups. In addition, some gangs are more dangerous than others. To better understand the city’s gang problem, the Boston interagency group mapped gang turf and estimated gang size.17 They identified 61 different crews with around 1,300 members. Gang members represented less than 1 percent of all Boston youth, and less than 3 percent of youth in high-risk neighborhoods. The mapping also documented rivalries and alliances among gangs. Gangs had identifiable “beefs” with particular rival gangs, not all rivalries were active (i.e., shots were not currently being fired), and certain gangs were much more involved in conflicts than others. In Minneapolis, researchers identified some 2,650 people in 32 active street gangs as being central to youth gun violence; they represented less than 3.5 percent of Minneapolis residents between the ages of 14 and 24. The gangs tended not to be territorial; they operated fluidly across Minneapolis and nearby jurisdictions. In Boyle Heights, researchers identified 37 criminally active street gangs as being involved in youth gun violence.
However, gangs are not always behind youth gun violence. In some cities, criminally active groups who are not considered “gangs” are major gun offenders. In Baltimore, violent groups active in street drug markets were involved in numerous homicides in 1997.18 Most of the murders occurred in or near a street drug market, and many victims and suspects were part of a drug organization or a recognized neighborhood criminal network. Researchers identified 325 drug groups that ranged in nature from rather sophisticated organizations, to structured neighborhood groups, to loose neighborhood groups. While drug disputes and street drug robberies contributed to Baltimore’s gun violence problem, homicides often resulted from ongoing, non-drug-related disputes among people in drug-selling groups.
In thinking about the nature of your youth gun violence problem, it is important to recognize that the direct links between youth gangs, drugs, and violence are usually overstated.19 Even in Baltimore, where most youth gun violence occurs in a drug market setting, most youth gun homicide is not drug-related. Gang and group violence is usually retaliatory or expressive (defending gang honor, status, and members). Today’s offenders are often tomorrow’s victims, and vice versa. Youth gun violence victims treated in Boston emergency rooms often had scars from past gun and knife wounds.20 Youth gun violence in many cities appears to be a self-sustaining cycle among a relatively small number of criminally active youth. They are at high risk of being confronted by gun violence, so they tend to try to protect themselves by getting, carrying, and using guns; forming and joining gangs; acting tough; and so forth.21 This behavior adds to the cycle of street violence.
The research confirms a high degree of overlap between victim and offender populations. It is important that you determine whether this overlap exists in your jurisdiction.
Like most crime problems, youth gun violence is clustered in specific places. Between 1987 and 1990, half of Chicago’s gang-related homicides occurred in only 10 of its 77 communities.22 In Minneapolis, nearly two-thirds of homicides were clustered in only eight of its 95 neighborhoods. In Boston, gang turf covered only 3 percent of the city’s total area, but over 25 percent of the city’s youth homicides, gun assaults, weapons offenses, and shots-fired calls for service occurred there. In Boyle Heights, spatial analyses revealed that youth gun homicide was concentrated in specific hot spots, in and around gang hangouts. Most of the Boyle Heights youth gun homicides were considered to be predatory, as perpetrators invaded rival gang territory to commit them. 23
Youth gun violence often clusters in time. For example, in Boston, most youth gun violence occurred in the afternoon hours immediately following school release, as well as during weekend evenings. In Kansas City, Mo., computer analysis of gun crime hot spots within a beat revealed that most gun violence occurred between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m.24
The information provided above is only a generalized description of youth gun violence. Research has shown that criminal and disorderly youth gangs and groups vary widely both within and across cities.25 (For example, Boston gangs were small, loosely organized, mostly neighborhood-based groups, unlike Chicago and Los Angeles gangs.) You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.
Analyses of youth gun violence should combine official data with street-level knowledge to provide a dynamic, real-life picture of the problem. The experiences, observations, and historical perspectives of police officers, street workers, and others in routine contact with offenders, communities, and criminal networks are underused resources for describing, understanding, and crafting interventions aimed at crime problems. Collecting data through interviews and focus groups can help you refine existing practitioner knowledge.26 For example, you can greatly enhance official data on youth gun violence by systematically reviewing and recording the circumstances of each incident in a working-group setting. Crime mapping is also an important tool in assessing youth gun violence. It can provide important insights on the locations of gun crimes, gang turf, and drug markets.†
† Interested readers should consult the National Institute of Justice Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety website, at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/.
The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular problem of youth gun violence, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.
Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. All measures should be taken in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)
The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to youth gun violence:
It is important to recognize that gun recoveries may initially increase when police start a gun violence-reduction program. If the responses are effective, this initial increase will be followed by a decrease in gun recoveries.
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: give careful consideration to who else in your community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it.
Recent evaluation research has revealed that police can prevent gun violence. While this guide categorizes police responses by whether they are primarily focused on offenders or on hot spots, in practice, they overlap. For example, when police focus on offenders in gangs, they sometimes also focus on gang turf and drug market areas. When police are deployed to prevent gun violence in particular places, they often focus on controlling the behavior of particularly dangerous offenders there. The distinction between the focuses matters less than the fact that police can prevent youth gun crime by strategically addressing identifiable risks.
The Richmond ( Calif.) Comprehensive Homicide Initiative demonstrates the benefits of an approach combining offender- and place-oriented responses.27 This problem-oriented policing project entailed a wide range of community-based and enforcement actions involving local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Offender-oriented strategies included intensive investigations, the apprehension of violent fugitives, immediate responses to gang violence to prevent retaliation, and the strategic use of prevention and intervention programs. Place-oriented strategies included towing potential getaway cars in areas with high numbers of drive-by shootings, enforcing building codes at drug nuisance locations, and assigning officers to particular schools. An evaluation of this multifaceted program revealed that it significantly reduced homicides in Richmond, particularly those involving guns.28
A number of jurisdictions have been experimenting with new problem-oriented policing frameworks to prevent gang and group gun violence among serious young offenders. Pioneered in Boston, this approach is known as the “pulling levers” focused deterrence strategy. It was designed to influence the behavior, and the environment, of the groups of chronic offenders identified as being at the core of the city’s gun violence problem. The pulling-levers approach attempted to prevent gang and group gun violence by making would-be offenders believe that severe consequences would follow such violence and change their behavior. A key element of the strategy was the delivery of a direct and explicit “retail deterrence” message to a relatively small target audience regarding what behavior would provoke a special response, and what that response would be.
Evaluation research has revealed the pulling-levers deterrence strategy to be effective in reducing gun violence among serious young offenders. The well-known Boston Gun Project/Operation Ceasefire intervention has been credited with a two-thirds reduction in youth homicides, and significant reductions in nonfatal gun violence.29 Subsequent replications of the Boston strategy have shown very promising results in reducing gun violence. An evaluation of the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership revealed that homicides dropped by 42 percent, and that they were less likely to involve a firearm.30 Less scientifically rigorous assessments in Baltimore, Los Angeles, High Point, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Stockton reveal similar reductions in homicide and firearms violence.31
Some key elements of the “pulling levers” approach to prevent gun violence are also part of Richmond, Va.’s well-known Project Exile to deter convicted felons from illegally carrying guns. This program is essentially a firearms sentence-enhancement initiative, as offenders are diverted from state to federal courts. At the heart of the project, all Richmond felon-in-possession cases are prosecuted in federal courts, with the defendants’ facing an average five-year prison sentence if convicted. The project also includes training for local police on federal statutes and search-and-seizure procedures, a public relations campaign to increase community involvement in fighting gun crime, and a massive publicity campaign to warn potential offenders about zero tolerance for gun crime and about the swift and certain federal sentence. Project advocates claim success based on a 40 percent decrease in Richmond gun homicides between 1997 and 1998. This claim has been disputed, however, as a recent evaluation found that the decrease would have likely occurred regardless of the project;32 the study suggests that nearly all of the decrease was probably attributable to an unusually high increase in and level of gun homicide before the project began. Nevertheless, it is important to note here that, as demonstrated in Boston, federal prosecution of gang-involved chronic offenders central to gun violence problems is an important component of an integrated violence reduction strategy.
† See the POP Guide on The Benefits and Consequences of Police Crackdowns for further information.
Prosecutors can give priority to crimes committed by particularly dangerous offenders and work with police to develop solid cases. Federal law enforcement agencies can contribute the extra resources of the federal government and apply a wider range of stiff penalties for certain gun offenses. Social service providers should also have a role in the group, as the best way to change some offenders’ behavior may be to offer them substance abuse counseling, job skills training, recreational opportunities, and the like.
Problem: Violent Gang Member
Solution: Armed Career-Criminal Conviction If you have a criminal record and are arrested with a gun or even a single bullet, you could face a mandatory-minimum sentence of 15 years to life, with no parole.
Future Address: Federal Correctional Institute, Maximum Security Facility
Fig. 1. Anti-gang violence flier
GOAL: STOP THE VIOLENCE INTERVALE POSSE
THEY WERE WARNED; THEY DIDN'T LISTEN.
INTERAGENCY DRUG OPERATION:
• BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
• DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
• BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES
• MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE
• U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
• SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
• MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION
• MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PAROLE
• SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD INITIATIVE
AUG. 29, 1996:
• 15 FEDERAL ARRESTS: DRUGS AND CONSPIRACY
• EIGHT STATE ARRESTS
EACH FEDERAL CHARGE CARRIES AT LEAST A 10- YEAR MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE. SEVERAL POSSE MEMBERS MAY FACE LIFE IN FEDERAL PRISON:
• CONFINED UNTIL TRIAL
• NO POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE
THE INVESTIGATION PROCEEDS: THESE CHARGES MAY BE JUST THE BEGINNING.
Fig. 2. Anti-gun violence flier
† Police agencies should be creative in communicating with offenders. In Boston, face-to-face forums with violent gang members and working-group members were key in delivering the antiviolence message (Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga 1996a). In Minneapolis, working-group members visited gang-involved victims of gun violence—who were often in the company of their friends, in the hospital—and warn them against retaliation (Kennedy and Braga 1998). In Winston-Salem, N.C., older offenders were involving juvenile gun offenders in their criminal activities. In response, the Winston-Salem working group, while maintaining their focus on juvenile offenders, met with older offenders and explicitly warned them that involving juveniles in their illegal activity would result in focused police attention (Coleman et al. 1999).
A key program component was to respond to problems identified by citizens, and the program’s success depended on effective police-community relationships. By requesting community input regarding the gun confiscation process, the police department developed a model for policing gun violence that put a premium on effective communication and community trust not found in most policing projects. The FSP also was designed to send a clear message that the police and the community would not tolerate juvenile firearm possession because it threatened public safety. Unfortunately, while the program gained national attention for its innovative approach and seemed to be a very promising route to disarming juveniles,† the Mobile Reserve Unit underwent a series of changes that caused the program to be stopped and restarted several times; subsequent variations of the FSP did not use the same approach as the original one. Thus, a rigorous impact evaluation of the original FSP was not completed.
† Rosenfeld and Decker (1996) reported that, while the program was operating as originally designed, police seized 402 firearms in 1994, and another 104 firearms during the first quarter of 1995.
In addition to focusing on high-risk individuals, police can prevent gun violence among serious young offenders by focusing on high-risk places at high-risk times. The Kansas City Gun Project,37 and its subsequent replications in Indianapolis38 and Pittsburgh,39 successfully used place-oriented policing responses to prevent gun crime in gun violence hot spots. In general, these studies examined the gun violence prevention effects of proactive patrol and intensive enforcement of firearms laws via safety frisks during traffic stops, plain-view searches and seizures, and searches incident to arrests on other charges. The Kansas City and Indianapolis studies also examined whether focusing police enforcement efforts at problem places simply displaced gun crime to different places or times. Neither study found any evidence of significant displacement.
It is important to note here that the research evidence is currently limited to place-oriented strategies involving mostly traditional police activities, such as increased patrol and street searches of suspicious individuals, at gun crime hot spots. While these interventions have produced crime control gains and have added to law enforcement’s array of crime prevention tools, problem-oriented police should focus their efforts on those characteristics that cause a place to be a gun crime hot spot.40 Officers can reduce gun crime by changing the features, facilities, and management of problem places. For example, if problem analysis reveals that easy access to common areas in front of a high school causes youth gun crimes to be clustered there immediately upon school release, police should experiment with ways to limit access to these areas during problem times. The practice of problem-oriented policing is still developing, and additional research is needed on different approaches to controlling gun violence hot spots.
† In Terry v. Ohio(1968) 392 US 1, the Supreme Court upheld police officers’ right to conduct brief threshold inquiries of suspicious persons when they have reason to believe that such persons may be armed and dangerous to the police and others. In practice, this threshold inquiry typically involves a safety frisk of the suspicious person.
†† Beyond the landmark Terry decision, there are many court decisions that govern search-and-seizure techniques. For example, in Houghton v. Wyoming (1999) 526 US 295, the Supreme Court upheld police officers’ right to search the belongings of the passengers of the car, incident to the arrest of any of the vehicle occupants. You should consult legal counsel regarding the application of search and seizure law in your jurisdiction.
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.
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.
The table below summarizes the responses to gun violence among serious young offenders, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. 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.
|General Requirements for a “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategy|
|#||Response||How It Works||Works Best If...||Considerations|
|1||Enlisting community support||Helps community members to view police enforcement actions as legitimate||<…police inform the community that gun violence is concentrated among groups of serious offenders, and that they will focus their efforts on them||Indiscriminate, highly aggressive law enforcement can undermine community support|
|2||Convening an interagency working group||Combines the resources of multiple agencies to address the problem||…group members’ agencies coordinate their efforts||The group should include members from all relevant local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies; social services personnel should be included to offer offenders positive alternatives to their behavior|
|3||Placing responsibility on the working group||Holds the group accountable for strategy development and implementation||…the group is explicitly charged with preventing incidents||This requires that the group members have a proactive, rather than reactive, mindset|
|4||Involving researchers||Provides the working group with thorough and reliable data||…researchers provide both background and strategically practical information, and evaluate performance||Researchers’ findings may be helpful to other jurisdiction|
|5||Developing an effective communication strategy||Warns potential offenders about the consequences of committing gun crimes||…the message is direct and explicit, conveying clear cause and effect||Nonviolent gangs and groups should be informed of what is happening to violent ones, and why; probation and parole officers can require those under their supervision to attend forums, and social service providers and community members may be able to persuade gang members to do so|
|Key Elements of a “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategy|
|#||Response||How It Works||Works Best If...||Considerations|
|6||Targeting intervention||Ensures that enforcement is focused on chronic offenders||…police can differentiate between formerly and currently active offenders||Police must avoid indiscriminately selecting gangs, groups, or individuals for intervention|
|7||Sending the initial message||Lets violent gangs and groups know that they are under close scrutiny||…police immediately increase their presence and activities in areas frequented by the gangs and groups||Social service providers and community members should let would-be offenders know they support the police, and offer help to those who want it|
|8||Pulling all available enforcement levers||Provides a variety of opportunities for criminal justice intervention||…interventions are tailored to the targeted offenders’ behaviors||Intervention should be harsh only to the extent necessary to stop gun crime|
|9||Continuing communication||Reinforces the anti-gun violence message||…police make it clear to violent gangs and groups that they are focusing on them because of their involvement in gun crime||Police agencies should be creative in communicating with offenders (e.g., by conducting forums with them)|
|10||Providing social services and opportunities||Diverts offenders from a violent lifestyle||…consequences for continued involvement in gun violence are severe enough to compel offenders to seek positive alternatives||A variety of options should be available, such as substance abuse counseling, job skills training, etc.|
|Disarming Young Gun Offenders|
|#||Response||How It Works||Works Best If...||Considerations|
|11||Searching for and seizing juveniles’ guns||Reduces the opportunities for gun violence by eliminating the means||…the affected community supports the initiative; parents/ guardians trust police and prosecutors to keep their word about criminal prosecution, and give signed consent to searches; and police base targeting on reliable intelligence about juveniles’ gun involvement||This is promising, but it has not yet proved effective in reducing gun violence|
|General Requirements for a Place-Oriented Enforcement Strategy|
|#||Response||How It Works||Works Best If...||Considerations|
|12||Enlisting community support||Helps community members to view police enforcement actions as legitimate||…police managers meet with community members both before and during interventions, and demonstrate effective leadership and supervision||Communities with high rates of gun violence tend to support police intervention|
|13||Training officers in appropriate search-and-seizure techniques||Ensures that officers conduct only legally warranted searches and seizures||…officers treat those they stop with respect, and explain the reasons for stops||Street searches of young male minorities may be viewed as police harassment|
|Key Elements of a Place-Oriented Enforcement Strategy|
|14||Increasing gun seizures||Reduces the opportunities for gun violence by eliminating the means||…police focus on high-risk places at high-risk times||Research has shown that, in some cases, increases in gun seizures in targeted areas have resulted in decreases in gun crime there|
|15||Increasing contacts with potential gun offenders||Subjects would-be offenders to increased police scrutiny||…police increase their visibility and contact with likely offenders within very small areas||Both traffic stops and “stop and talk” contacts may be effective|
|Responses With Limited Effectiveness|
|16||Suppressing gangs without providing programs and services to address the social conditions that contribute to gang affiliation.||Reduces gun violence by identifying, tracking, and aggressively enforcing laws against known violent gang members||…when based on a thorough understanding of the nature of gangs and gang violence problems in local jurisdictions and blended with social intervention, opportunity provision, and community mobilization activities||Gangs and gang problems usually remain in the wake of these intensive operations; suppression programs may have the perverse effect of strengthening gang solidarity; gangs do not consider police threats to eliminate them credible; social intervention and prevention efforts are necessary complements to suppression efforts|
|17||Implementing gun buyback programs||Reduces the availability of guns that may be used in violent crimes by reducing the overall number of guns in the community||This has not proved effective in reducing gun violence—it fails to focus on the guns most likely to be used in violent crimes|
 Cook and Ludwig (2000).
 Fox (1996).
 Cook and Laub (1998).
 Cook and Laub (2002).
 Fox and Zawitz (2002).
 Moore and Tonry (1998).
 Kennedy and Braga (1998).
 Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga (1996a).
 Klein (1995).
 Braga, Kennedy, and Tita (2002).
 Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga (1996a).
 Kennedy and Braga (1998).
 Tita, Riley, and Greenwood (2003).
 Braga, Kennedy, and Tita (2002).
 Rich and Stone (1996).
 Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga (1996a).
 Tita, Riley, and Greenwood (2003).
 Curry, Ball, and Fox (1994).
 White et al. (2003).
 White et al. (2003).
 Braga, Kennedy, Waring, and Piehl (2001); Braga, Kennedy, Piehl, and Waring (2001).
 McGarrell and Chermak (2003).
 Braga, Kennedy, and Tita (2002).
 Kennedy, Braga, and Piehl (2001).
 Kennedy (1997); Kennedy (1998).
 Rosenfeld and Decker (1996).
 Rosenfeld and Decker (1996).
 See, for example, Braga et al. (1999).
 Moore (1980); Kleck (1991).
 Spergel (1995).
 Klein (1993).
 Klein (1993).
 Klein (1993).
 Spergel and Curry (1993).
 Coleman, et al. (1999).
 Sherman (2001).
 Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga (1996b).
 Braga, Cook, Kennedy, and Moore (2002); U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (2000).
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The quality and focus of these submissions vary considerably. With the exception of those submissions selected as winners or finalists, these documents are unedited and are reproduced in the condition in which they were submitted. They may nevertheless contain useful information or may report innovative projects.
Enfield Gangs Action Group [Goldstein Award Finalist], Enfield Safer Stronger Communities Board (London, UK), 2011
Firearm Suppression Program, St. Louis Police Department (MO, US), 1995
Firearm Suppression Project, Hayward Police Department (CA, US), 1995
Gun Crime Initiative – Operation Noble, Merseyside Police Department (Merseyside, UK), 2009
Juvenile Arrest and Monitoring Unit (JAM), Fort Myers Police Department (FL, US), 2006
Operation Cease Fire [Goldstein Award Winner], Boston Police Department (MA, US), 1998
Operation Cougar – Reducing Gang Related Firearms Discharges – Metropolitan Division [Goldstein Award Finalist], Greater Manchester Police (Manchester, UK), 2009
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