• Group Violence Intervention

    The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) reduces violent crime when community members join together with law enforcement and social service providers to focus an antiviolence message on highly active street groups.

About the Strategy
Tools & Guides
Research

The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) has shown repeatedly that a city can dramatically reduce homicide and gun violence when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate 1) a credible, moral message against violence; 2) a credible law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence; and 3) a genuine offer of help for those who want it.

Pioneered by National Network Director David Kennedy and colleagues as "Operation Ceasefire" in Boston during the 1990s, the intervention was responsible for a 63 percent reduction in youth homicide that came to be known as “The Boston Miracle.” The strategy requires that people from disparate backgrounds, often with competing priorities, work together in unusual ways and focus on a single goal: reducing serious violence in their community.

A real working partnership among stakeholders within law enforcement, community members and social services is the strategy’s most important element and also its greatest challenge. The explicit aim is to reduce pro-violence peer dynamics within gangs by creating collective accountability, fostering internal dynamics that deter violence, establishing community norms and standards against violence, and giving gang members who want it an “honorable exit” from the street life.

The National Network produced Group Violence Intervention: An Implementation Guide, published by COPS Office in 2013, to provide a practical tool for stakeholders seeking to implement GVI in their jurisdiction.


Group Violence Intervention: An Implementation Guide

A comprehensive guide to the National Network's Group Violence Intervention strategy. This guide covers all relevant steps to the strategy from initial planning and problem analysis to enforcement actions and call-in implementation, and further considers issues of maintenance, integrity, sustainability and accountability to offer interested parties a step-by-step guide to successfully implementing GVI in any jurisdiction.


Custom Notifications: Individualized Communication in the Group Violence Intervention

This guide provides practical information about "custom notifications," an independent element of GVI that enables quick, tactical, direct communication to particular group members. This publication presents the custom notifications process, explains its value within the broader strategy, details its use by several national practitioners, and encourages further development.


Managing the Group Violence Intervention: Using Shooting Scorecards to Track Group Violence

This guide begins with a brief description of the shooting scorecard concept and its links to problem analysis and performance measurement systems in police departments. It then presents the key steps in the process and associated data quality issues and then details the use of shooting scorecards by the Boston Police Department as an example of the practical applications of this approach.


Call-In Preparation and Execution Guide

A complete guide for law enforcement, community, and social services partners already engaged in implementing the Group Violence Intervention to design, prepare, and execute their first and subsequent call-ins.


Four Case Studies of Swift and Meaningful Law Enforcement

For the Group Violence Intervention to achieve its desired outcomes, stakeholders must be authentic and their messages credible. For law enforcement this means making good on the promise of swift and meaningful consequences for a group or gang as a whole when a prohibited violent act (usually shooting or killing) is committed by one of its members. This document captures examples of successful and creative law enforcement responses to group violence as carried out by police departments and their partner agencies in key National Network jurisdictions.


Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Strategies to Prevent Crime

This paper briefly reviews the research on the crime control effectiveness of "pulling levers" focused deterrence programs. Focused deterrence strategies honor core deterrence ideas, such as increasing risks faced by offenders, while finding new and creative ways of deploying traditional and non-traditional law enforcement tools to do so, such as communicating incentives and disincentives directly to targeted offenders.


Developing a Step-by-Step Application of the New Orleans Strategy to Combat Violent Street Crews In a Focused Deterrence Strategy

In this brief, K. Tate Chambers outlines a step-by-step application of the New Orleans Strategy to combat violent street crews and how it was employed in Don't Shoot Peoria's focused deterrence crime prevention plan. This article outlines the 14 steps used by Don't Shoot Peoria to implement the focused deterrence strategy and also explains some of the practical applications of these steps. 


Webinar: Employing Streetworkers to Address Group Violence (2011)

The Institute of the Study & Practice of Nonviolence in Providence is a national pioneer in training and employing professional street outreach workers to address and prevent violence. It has also forged a highly effective partnership with the Providence Police Department that the National Network for Safe Communities believes can serve as a model for other jurisdictions seeking to utilize street outreach workers as part of implementing the Group Violence Intervention. In this webinar, the Institute’s Executive Director Teny Gross and Streetworker Program Manager Ajay Benton discuss the following key issues: Principles and Practice of Nonviolence; Training; Hiring & Firing; Partnering With Police, Schools, and Hospitals; Selecting Target Clients; Managing Risks; Managing Public Relations; Measuring Success. Click here for the webinar's PowerPoint.


Webinar: Using Social Network Analysis in Crime Prevention (2011)

Social network analysis— the scientific tool behind social media like Facebook and Twitter—is used widely in the private sector to understand markets and organizations and in the health sector to understand the spread of disease. It can be used just as effectively to devise new ways to reduce violent crime. Leadership Group jurisdictions Chicago and Cincinnati have been at the forefront of applying social network analysis in crime prevention. In this webinar, Andrew Papachristos, Ph.D., a national expert and the research partner of the Chicago Police Department, and Captain Daniel Gerard of the Cincinnati Police Department will demonstrate how social network analysis is applied in the context of the Group Violence Intervention. Key issues addressed include: Mapping of group, gang and faction structures and relationships; designing surgically precise enforcement actions; expanding knowledge of group membership using commonly available administrative data; identifying the most influential group members for taking antiviolence messages back to affiliates. Click here for the webinar's PowerPoint.


Webinar: Communicating with Offenders—Innovative Notification Strategies (2010)

This webinar focuses on innovative techniques for communicating key messages to offenders, potential offenders and affected communities as part of the National Network's group violence reduction and drug market strategies. Key issues include: Best practices in the "classic" call-in format; Voluntary call-ins for gang members; Home visits with impact players; Custom legal assessments; Prison call-ins; The use of "influentials" in both strategies; Emphasizing legitimacy in the call-in; Use of social network analysis. 


Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy: Applications of Social Network Analysis (2011)

Social network analysis is an integral part of Chicago's Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS). It is used to expand and improve the police department's intelligence on gangs, groups and local gang factions; to identify the most socially connected group and gang members to take the VRS anti-violence message back to their associates; and to assess the impact of law enforcement efforts on groups or gangs. This document outlines three examples of social network analysis as a tool to narrowly and effectively focus law enforcement resources on group violence.


Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence: Home/Street Visits (2011)

A report about the groundbreaking home/street visits approach developed by the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) to keep its anti-violence message "fresh" in between its formal court house call-ins. The CIRV team identifies key impact players within groups active in crime hot-spots, meets with them face-to-face at their homes or in the streets, and delivers the message in a way that has led to substantial reductions in shootings around the city.


Practice Brief: Group Enforcement Actions and Talking Points (2010)

This brief explores the role and purpose of demonstration, and subsequent, group enforcement actions ("crackdowns") associated with the law enforcement component of the Group Violence Intervention, including talking points for presenting these actions within actual call-ins/notification meetings with group and gang members.


Integrating and Evaluating Multiple PSN Strategies in Chicago (2009)

This PowerPoint presentation summarizes findings from an evaluation of the impact of Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiatives on neighborhood level crime rates in Chicago. Several PSN interventions were found to be associated with greater declines of homicide in the treatment neighborhoods compared to the control neighborhoods. Out of four interventions analyzed, the largest effect was associated with the offender notifications that stress individual deterrence, normative change in offender behavior, and increasing views on legitimacy and procedural justice.


Building Collaborative Violent Crime Task Force Structures (2009)

This PowerPoint presentation, by Robert A.J. Lang, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, and Jodi A. Ramirez, Law Enforcement Coordinator/Program Manager of Project Safe Cabarrus, sets out how to create the partnerships and agency structures necessary to successfully implement and sustain the group violence strategy. It includes guidelines on how best to overcome common institutional barriers as well as best practices for sustaining the initiative.


Project Safe Cabarraus – Program Manager Position (2009)

The document provides a description of the Project Manager position in this initiative. The Project Manager is responsible for coordinating community-wide resources, agencies, and committees as part of the federally funded Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiative. PSN is based in part on the National Network's group violence strategy.


Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) – Organizational Structure, Processes and Outcomes (2009)

This PowerPoint presentation, by CIRV Executive Director Greg Baker, provides an outline of the structure, processes and outcomes of the initiative, aimed at reducing gun violence and homicides in Cincinnati.


Controlling Gang Violence in High Point – High Point Police Department (2008)

This PowerPoint presentation by the High Point Police Department includes an outline of the theory underlying the group violence strategy, a step-by-step implementation guide, a link analysis of the groups engaged in violent crime in High Point, and details of the department's organizational realignment to more effectively support its mission of crime reduction.



Braga, A., Weisburd, D. L. (2012). The Effects of “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews. DOI: 10.4073/csr.2012.6

Braga, A. A., Weisburd, D.L. (2012). Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Strategies to Prevent Crime. No. 6 of Crime Prevention Research Review. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Braga, A. A., Hureau, D., & Winship, C. (2008). Losing Faith? Police, Black Churches, and the Resurgence of Youth Violence in Boston. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 6 (1) 141-172

Braga, A. A., McDevitt, J., & Pierce, G. L. (2006). Understanding and Preventing Gang Violence: Problem Analysis and Response Development in Lowell, Massachusetts. Police Quarterly, 9 (1) 20-46

Braga, A A., Kennedy, D.M., Piehl, A.M., & Waring, E.J. (2001, September). Reducing Gun Violence: The Boston Gun Project’s Operation Ceasefire. National Institute of Justice Research Report

Kennedy, D.M. (2008). Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction. NY: Routledge

NEW! Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Davis, J., Sargeant, E., Manning, M. (2012) Legitmacy in Policing. Campbell Systematic Reviews.

Meares, T. L.(2009). The Legitimacy of Police Among Young African-American Men. Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 528.

McGarrell, E., & Chermak, S. (2003, October). Strategic Approaches to Reducing Firearms Violence: Final Report on the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership. National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Papachristos, A. V., Meares, T., & Fagan, J. (2007). Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 4 (2) 223-272.


Results


44%

reduction in gun assaults through Project Safe Neighborhooods

Lowell

41%

reduction in gang-member involved homicide

Cincinnati

34%

reduction in homicides

Indianapolis

63%

reduction in youth homicide

Boston

42%

reduction in gun homicide through Stockton Operation Peacekeeper, 1997-2002

Stockton

News & Updates

The Police-Community Divide

December 2014  |  WNYC  

David Kennedy joined WNYC's Brian Lehrer show's family meeting on race and justice to speak about the DOJ National Initiative and community's role in resetting and reshaping everyday encounters between law enforcement and the community. "Yes, this is about race--but more importantly, it's about relationships," says Kennedy. 

Tags: Drug Market InterventionGroup Violence Intervention Racial Reconciliation

High Point Community Against Violence receives FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

November 2014  |  National Network  

Congratulations to the community arm of High Point's longstanding effort, High Point Community Against Violence, who was presented with the FBI Director's award for community outreach and leadership in the area of crime prevention, community engagement and education. An organization in each state is recognized annually, and HPCAV was the North Carolina statewide recipient of this award.  The official announcement presentation will take place in Washington, DC in early 2015.

Tags: High Point Group Violence Intervention

“The Task Force,” Episode 7

November 2014  |  Nooga.com  

In this podcast, David Morton recommends David Kennedy’s book, Don’t Shoot, and discusses his recent experience as a third-party observer during one of Chattanooga’s Violence Reduction Initiative call-ins. 

Tags: Chattanooga Group Violence Intervention

American Justice Summit 2014: Breaking The Cylce of Violence

November 2014  |  Tina Brown Media  

During the American Justice Summit hosted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CBS News' Michelle Miller spoke with Equal Justice Initiative director Bryan Stevenson, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and director David Kennedy about breaking the cycle of violence. Since implementing GVI with NOLA 4 LIFE, the homicide rate citywide in New Orleans has dropped 20 percent, to the lowest level the city has seen in 30 years.

Tags: Group Violence Intervention Racial Reconciliation

Kennedy: Don’t give up, Chattanooga’s anti-violence strategy will work

November 2014  |  Times Free Press  

David Kennedy writes in the Times Free Press outlining why Chattanooga VRI was developed and urging the city to stay dedicated to the strategy. "It remains the best—if still an imperfect—route to preventing violence and incarceration among those most likely to be touched by both; helping law enforcement to do their job in a way that does not harm, and instead strengthens the communities they serve; and supporting the community to step forward, stand together with law enforcement, and reset its own public safety standards," Kennedy says. "We have yet to see a city where this has been done well and the streets have not responded--if not immediately, then sooner rather than later. Chattanooga is, and will be, no different."

Tags: Chattanooga Group Violence Intervention

DOJ offers police training in Ferguson

November 2014  |  MSNBC  

In light of continuing tensions in Ferguson, MO, the COPS Office of DOJ recently held a 2 day training for area police that includes lessons on how police can acknowledge, identify and filter implicit racial bias. MSNBC's Trymaine Lee discusses the training and highlights the DOJ’s National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which the National Network is leading. “The ultimate goal is to get people to see that the issue of implicit racial bias is real and a part of human behavior,” said Ron Davis, director of the COPS Office. “If it becomes too cut and dry you talk about people being racist, people get really defensive because nobody wants to be called a racist.”

Tags: Group Violence Intervention Racial Reconciliation

International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference 2014

October 2014  |  National Network   

At the International Association of Chief of Police Conference in Orlando this year, the National Network conducted panels on custom notifications and street level enforcement with our partners from Chicago, Philadelphia, and High Point. And in his opening address, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated the importance of the new National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice in repairing relationships between minority communities and the criminal justice system: “We do ourselves a disservice if we dismiss, or fail to address, the conditions and lingering tensions that exist just beneath the surface in so many places across the country – and that were brought to the surface, and raised to the urgent attention of this group and others, by this summer’s events in Ferguson, Missouri."

Tags: ChicagoHigh PointPhiladelphia Group Violence Intervention Custom Notifications

When Prosecutors Align on Guns

October 2014  |  New York Times  

Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, a coalition comprised of prosecutors from 30 major cities held it's first meeting late October in Atlanta to share expertise and best practices to combat gun-related issues surrounding group violence, domestic abuse, and mental health. "The coalition aims to build on what Manhattan District Attorney's Office Cyrus Vance (Prosecutors Against Gun Violence co-chairman) believes is a common denominator: 'Everybody believes that people should not be victimized by gun violence.'"

Tags: Group Violence Intervention Strategic Prosecution

AUSA Christopher Poole Recognized For Work With Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initative

October 2014  |  The Chattanoogan  

Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Poole was recognized by the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys with the Exceptional Service Award for his work with Chattanooga's Violence Reduction Initiative, initiated by the city in 2013. U.S. Attorney Killian congratulated him, “The Eastern District of Tennessee is fortunate to have many quality federal prosecutors. I am proud that Assistant U.S. Attorney Poole was recognized for his exceptional work with this important initiative with the city of Chattanooga.”

Tags: Chattanooga Group Violence Intervention



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