Serious violence in the United States is concentrated in historically disadvantaged communities of color, and particularly among young men in those communities. The Group Violence Intervention (GVI)—known by various names, including “Operation Ceasefire”—has the strongest record of preventing such violence. The strategy is based on a set of core facts: Most people in those communities are not at high risk for either victimization or offending. A very small number of identifiable street groups drive the violence, and the people in them face extraordinary risk and trauma. However, the most common law enforcement approaches to violence prevention can actually cause communities harm and make violence dynamics worse. Community distrust of law enforcement—based on historical harms, over-enforcement, and disrespect—stands in the way of violence prevention efforts.
GVI focuses on the groups at highest risk for violent victimization and offending, with the intention to keep those in them alive, safe, and out of prison. The GVI partnership communicates directly with group members, conveying a powerful community message about disapproval for violence and in support of community aspirations; concrete opportunities for both immediate and longer-term assistance and support; and clear prior notice of the legal risks associated with continued violence. The partnership then delivers swiftly on these commitments.