Join Our Mailing List
Safe Community Partnerships
In the News
Ceasefire Spreading Like Wildfire in California. (PDF) National Criminal Justice Association, Justice Bulletin, July 2010.
Over the past 15 years, numerous cities across the country have successfully reduced relatively high rates of gang and youth gun violence through a strategy that brings together – and assigns specific roles to – criminal justice agencies, organizations that provide employment training and placement, social service agencies, community and faith leaders, and gang outreach programs. Boston (Operation Ceasefire), Chicago, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis achieved reductions in gun homicide of 25 to over 60 percent and, here in California, Stockton reduced gun homicide by more than 43 percent between 1998 and 2001. This strategy, based upon extensive research and experience, has evolved from a primary focus on deterring serious gang and youth gun violence, to a comprehensive approach that combines deterrence with workforce training, employment, and other services.
Recognizing the effectiveness of this approach, three California foundations (the California Endowment, the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region: Community Benefit Programs and The California Wellness Foundation) have pooled $1 million to provide technical assistance for five cities – Modesto, Oakland, Oxnard, Salinas and Stockton – that obtained 2008-09 CalGRIP grants to implement this strategy. More foundation funding may become available in the coming months to support additional cities and enhance technical assistance.
What the Strategy Requires
This strategy requires that a city take the following steps – in partnering, planning, and implementation – to reduce its relatively high rate of gang and youth gun violence:
- Analyze the dynamics of local gun violence: A city will collect and analyze basic data on gun violence, including the geographic location of violent incidents, demographic information on individuals involved in gun violence, and patterns of gang violence. This data will be used by the working group (described below) to design its strategy.
- Organize a working group that will design and implement the local strategy: A city will organize a working group that includes representation from public and private employment training and placement providers, criminal justice agencies (including district attorney’s office, police department, sheriff’s department, and probation office), community leaders, gang outreach workers, and public and private social service agencies that serve youthful offenders, youth at risk of violence, and gang members. Drawing on the data analysis above, each working group will design and implement a local strategy that includes: a) directly communicating a violence prevention message to the gang members and youth most likely to commit gun violence, b) linking these gang members and youth to training and employment opportunities, and c) coordinating law enforcement efforts.
- Communicate directly with the gang members and youth most likely to commit gun violence: A city will communicate directly with these gang members and young people. This will be accomplished primarily at group meetings known as "call ins" or "forums," attended by representatives of the working group and the particular gang members and young people. At these meetings, the working group will set forth a two-part message: (a) gun violence must stop immediately or criminal justice agencies will intervene quickly and forcefully against those responsible; and (b) the group is there to support the gang members and youth with intensive services and employment.
- Connect gang members and young people to employment opportunities: Each city will strengthen its capacity to place the gang members and young people identified as most likely to commit gun violence in quality employment opportunities. This includes providing social services, "soft skills" training, ongoing support (such as mentoring and mutual support programs), and job training and placements. Note that experience in other cities indicates that the number of gang members and young people requiring such intensive assistance is likely to be relatively small and within the capacity of most cities to provide.
- Build a strategic law enforcement partnership: An essential component of this approach calls for criminal justice agencies to focus their enforcement efforts on the relatively small group of gang members and young people who "drive" gun violence as determined by the problem analysis described above – particularly to the extent that these gang members and young people disregard the message to cease gun violence.
What the Selected Cities Will Receive
Each grantee will receive, through the partnership between the State of California and the private foundations, a CalGRIP grant to assist in implementing this strategy, and in-depth technical assistance from national experts. The technical assistance will be coordinated by the Public Health Institute, and will focus on five aspects of the strategy:
- Providing a comprehensive understanding of local gang and youth gun violence patterns and trends, including the geographic location of violent incidents, demographic information on individuals involved in gun violence, and patterns of gang violence.
- Strengthening social service and employment programs and opportunities for gang members and young people most likely to commit gun violence.
- Developing and/or strengthening gang outreach programs.
- Strengthening the strategic enforcement capacity of participating criminal justice agencies.
- Participating in a foundation-funded evaluation designed to assess the impact of the initiative on gun-related gang and youth violence, recidivism, and employment outcomes.
A glowing article appeared recently in the New Yorker magazine profiling the work of David Kennedy, who helped develop the Boston Ceasefire anti-violence strategy and its later iterations. Dr. Kennedy’s work forms the basis of the approach taken in California.
Seabrook, John. Don’t Shoot: A radical approach to the problem of gang violence. (PDF) The New Yorker, June 22, 2009.
In June 2009, the National Network of Safe Communities (NNSC) was formally launched. Headquartered at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, the network will seek to support and advocate for cities that want to implement the strategy that California is implementing.
For a copy of the press release announcing the NNSC, click here.
Citations to Materials on Previous Implementations of this Strategy
Braga, Anthony A., David M. Kennedy, Eline J. Waring, and Anne Morrison Piehl. Reducing Gun Violence: The Boston Gun Project’s Operation Ceasefire. National Institute of Justice, 2001.
Fagan, Jeffrey, Tracey L. Meares, and Andrew V. Papachristos. Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago. U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 269, Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 05-97, 2007.
Meares, Tracey and Andrew V. Papachristos. The Re-Entry of Violent Offenders in Chicago: Summary of the Project Safe Neighborhoods’ Offender Notification Forums. (PDF) Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago, 2009.
Wakeling, Stewart. Ending Gang Homicide: Deterrence Can Work. (PDF) California Attorney General's Office, Perspectives on Violence Prevention, 2003.
National Network for Safe Communities
National Network for Safe Communities is dedicated to implementing these crime reduction strategies nationally; to institutionalizing them; to continuing to evaluate and improve them; and thereby to dramatically reduce crime and incarceration in America.
Project Safe Neighborhoods: America’s Network Against Gun Violence
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun and gang crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun and gun crime and providing these programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. Since its inception in 2001, approximately $2 billion has been committed to this initiative. This funding is being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, distribute gun lock safety kits, deter juvenile gun crime, and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.
Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago
The purpose of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is to reduce incidences of gun violence in Chicago’s most afflicted neighborhoods. We accomplish this objective through a multi-faceted approach that includes law enforcement, intervention and prevention strategies. PSN carries out these strategies through the development of partnerships amongst Federal, State and Local government as well as community and faith-based providers. Our comprehensive strategy is designed to prevent youth from committing a gun crime; intervene in the lives of those individuals struggling to re-integrate into society following release from prison; and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those individuals who choose to threaten the safety of Chicago’s neighborhoods by committing a gun crime.