• 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.


Philadelphia Focused Deterrence Call-in (May 16, 2013)

This is a May 16, 2013 "call-in" meeting of the Philadelphia Focused Deterrence initiative, at which Philadelphia community members, law enforcement, and social service providers join together and use the National Network for Safe Communities' method of communicating directly with active gang and street group members.

 


Baton Rouge BRAVE Call-in (September 23, 2014)

This is a September 23, 2014 "call-in" meeting of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) initiative, at which Baton Rouge community members, law enforcement, and social service providers join together and use the National Network for Safe Communities' method of communicating directly with active gang and street group members.


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: 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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

44%

reduction in gun assaults through Project Safe Neighborhooods

Lowell

News & Updates

What Makes a Good Cop? David Kennedy on Nuanced Policing

January 2015  |  WNYC   

National Network Director David M Kennedy sat down with Alec Baldwin on WNYC Radio's Here's The Thing to discuss how the Group Violence Intervention works, and how it was first developed in Boston as "Operation Ceasefire."

Tags: New York City Group Violence Intervention Racial Reconciliation

How to Slow Down Shootings in a City Plagued by Gun Violence

January 2015  |  The Huffington Post  

When you consider who falls victim to gun violence, the statistical data doesn't seem random at all. A new study by Yale's Andrew Papachristos shows that the networks through which this violence spreads are rather small and specific. And the key to curbing the epidemic might be similar to efforts used to contain other infectious diseases.

Tags: Chicago Group Violence Intervention Social Network Analysis

How the LAPD Got Smart and Started Winning the War Against Street Gangs

January 2015  |  VICE News  

David M. Kennedy says Los Angeles' progress from the aggressive policing of the 1990s to the preventative, community-oriented policing of the 2000s is representative of the national change in thinking about about how to make communities safer.

Tags: Los Angeles Group Violence Intervention

FBI honors UMKC for professors’ work with KC No Violence Alliance

December 2014  |  Kansas City Star   

The FBI honored University of Missouri-Kansas City professors Andrew Fox and Ken Novak with an award for Community Leadership for their work with the Kansas City No Violence Alliance in identifying the city's most violent criminals using social network analysis.

Tags: Kansas City Group Violence Intervention

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

Kansas City’s Group Violence Intervention in Action

December 2014  |  Jackson County Prosecutor's Office   

Group enforcements are a key focus of the KC No Violence Alliance’s goal to reduce violence in Kansas City. Group members associated with violence are engaged before any enforcement and offered services and other help. “They were offered anything we could do to help them choose a different path and to interrupt a cycle of violence,” said Kansas City Police Department Major Joe McHale. “Instead they chose violence.”

Tags: Kansas City Group Violence Intervention

Relationship Between Police And Community In Focus At Crime Prevention Conference

December 2014  |  WAMC Radio  

As part of a two-day event hosted by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services at the Gideon Putnam resort in Saratoga Springs, more than 250 law enforcement professionals attended a conference on New York’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, or GIVE. The GIVE program targets 20 communities that account for 86 percent of the state’s violent crime outside New York City.

Tags: Group Violence Intervention

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



Implementation

Canton, OH

Cleveland, OH

Concord, NC

Dallas, TX

Dayton, OH

Flint, MI

Fresno, CA

Graham, NC

Hillsborough, NC

Indianapolis, IN

Kalamazoo, MI

Lancaster, PA

Long Beach, CA

Madison, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Oklahoma City, OK

Omaha, NE

Oxnard, CA

Pittsburgh, PA

Portland, OR

Richmond, CA

Sacramento, CA

Salinas, CA

Salisbury, NC

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, AZ

Shelby, NC

Syracuse, NY

Toledo, OH

Winston-Salem, NC