Gun violence is a complex and durable problem without easy solutions. However, several decades of research and practice have shown that a number of approaches can effectively reduce serious violence on individual, neighborhood and community levels. Resources.
At CPSC, we work primarily from the most powerful and effective but also the most complex framework, known as focused deterrence, group violence intervention or Operation Ceasefire. Resources.
When police and impacted communities work together with technical experts; invest in understanding the violence problem they have; engage those at highest risk together with a commitment to both support and accountability; and change the way local government operates to support these commitments, they can very significantly reduce violence in the near term. How We Work.
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Available research indicates that policing-only suppression approaches are not effective in sustainably reducing gun violence. However, approaches where police partner with community stakeholders to take a problem-solving approach to addressing gun violence can be quite effective. This work is difficult to do successfully and is much more likely to be effective with the support of technical experts. How We Work.
Community violence intervention programs (CVI) focus on reducing gun violence by establishing relationships with those at the center of gun violence in communities. Most CVI programs utilize “credible messengers” - people with similar lived experience to those at risk of being a victim and/or perpetrator of violence.
CVI programs seek to establish relationships with those at high risk of being involved in violence in order to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation, help participants make better life choices and provide access to opportunities. The current research evidence on CVI approaches is growing but mixed. Many programs and approaches show promise; but effectiveness varies from program to program and more rigorous research is needed.
Like many American cities during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Boston suffered an epidemic of youth violence that had its roots in the rapid spread of street-level crack-cocaine markets. In 1995, as part of its ongoing efforts to address the problem, the police department launched the Boston Gun Project, which aimed to analyze the underlying causes of the problem and then used that analysis to identify the most promising strategies for preventing and controlling serious youth violence. The analysis and planning phase began in early 1995 and the strategy, named Operation Ceasefire, was implemented in mid-1996 (Braga and Winship 2005). In the four years after Operation Ceasefire was launched in 1996, youth homicides in the city dropped by almost two-thirds. (Kennedy, Piehl, and Braga 1996).
The approach was subsequently replicated in a large number of American cities as the most prominent and successful example of citywide violence reduction approaches. In essence, Operation Ceasefire (focused deterrence) is a problem- oriented approach to reducing serious violence that can also be applied to other categories of serious crime.
The development of a focused deterrence strategy typically entails the following steps:
In a review of all the available evaluation evidence, Braga et. Al. found focused deterrence strategies highly effective in reducing violence in 22 of 24 rigorous evaluations (Braga, Weisburd, and Turchan 2018). A similar review of available evidence for U.S. AID by Thomas Abt and Chris Winship came to similar conclusions – focused deterrence is highly effective (Abt and Winship 2016).
Cities that pursue Operation Ceasefire or focused deterrence with academic and technical support are much more likely to succeed than those that attempt to “go it alone” (Braga, Weisburd, and Turchan 2018; Corsaro 2018; Corsaro and Engel 2015).
Operation Ceasefire acknowledges that the risk of violence concentrates among a very small number of people, and that focused problem solving efforts that mobilize police and a range of working partners are more likely to be effective.
Any comprehensive strategy to strengthen police-community relations and build police legitimacy should ensure police (1) consistently treat people with dignity and respect; (2) give them “voice,” a chance to tell their side of the story; (3) make decisions fairly and objectively, based on facts; and (4) act in a transparent way that reassures people of their good will. These are the core principles of procedural justice. Extensive work by Tom Tyler and Tracey Meares, among others, has demonstrated that departments that practice these principles see increased public support, cooperation, and compliance with the law (Weisburd and Majmundar 2018). These findings hold across different ethnic groups and communities.
No. Rigorous research has repeatedly shown that gun buybacks do not reduce gun violence. They do not take likely crime guns off the street and they do not influence the behavior of likely perpetrators.