My Homework

I have to lead a seminar group tomorrow night in class. No reason why you can’t read my stuff:

Target Crime Reduction Efforts In Ten Cities
by Erin Dalton
2002

Summary

Following the example of Boston’s Operation Ceasefire (The Boston Gun Project), a pilot program in co-operation with the National Institute of Justice and The Kennedy School of Government designed to reduce youth gun violence, the author presents a review of replicated programs initiated in 10 communities, the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI).

SACSI was (is) a crime targeting initiative designed to identify root causes of crime and apply strategic, long-term interventions to eradicate these criminal elements. SACSI is characterized by a community based approach to crime prevention involving stakeholders at the local and national level, as well as police and non-policing agencies (community leaders and the clergy). It is hoped that lessons learned from the SACSI model may be carried over to more recent crime initiatives such as the Bush administration’s Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Elements of the SACSI Model

Leadership and buy-in from top level partners (US Attorney’s Office).
Strong project management, community involvement and a sustained effort.
Deep understanding of the targeted crime problem (contextualizing motives and behaviors).

Best Practices

David Kennedy, a designer of the Boston Gun Project, stressed the need to study crime problems for sustained periods before suggesting an intervention strategy. He also recognized the challenges inherent in this process (the need for more data, reaffirmation of leadership, more resources to complete studies). Ultimately there was no “magic bullet” for reducing gun violence. What was good for Indianapolis (addressing semi organized gangs and turf wars) was not necessarily good for Rochester (targeting drug-house robberies and individual status issues).

Balancing Short-term wins with Long-term results

SACSI cities struggled to identify interventions that would achieve both demands. Kennedy’s decision rule for program success needed to satisfy four conditions (biggest impact, how long will it take, doable, political will). After these conditions were met, SACSI had success with a number of efforts:

– The List (targeting the “worst of the worst”)
– Lever-Pulling (clear communication that there would be severe repercussions for certain criminal behavior. ex: Bush 43: “If you use a gun illegally, you will do hard time”)
– Home Visits (follow up interviews with parolees by a team of stakeholders)

Outcomes

SACSI has shown significant results (reduction in gun violence). The program continues to monitor effectiveness (longitudinal data continues to be assessed).

Questions

Referring to Engel, what police supervising style do you feel would be most effective in a crime targeting program such as SACSI?

As the article points out, programs like SACSI require significant allocation of time and resources. Community involvement puts considerable strain on these elements. Is there a diminishing return in terms of achieving community buy-in? At what point do the community’s needs become a hindrance to effective policing?

Policy makers have been analyzing the data from Operation Ceasefire and SACSI for almost 20 years. Are these long-term programs worth the effort?

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