• Drug Market Intervention

    The Drug Market Intervention (DMI) eliminates overt drug markets by bringing together community leaders, law enforcement, and service providers with street-level drug dealers and their families to make it clear that the dealing must stop.

About the Strategy
Tools & Guides

The Drug Market Intervention (DMI) effectively eliminates overt drug markets and improves life for residents of the surrounding communities. Overt drug markets operate in public, causing chaos, violence, and enormous damage to communities. DMI was first piloted in 2004 in High Point, NC. The strategy identifies particular drug markets, identifies street-level dealers, and arrests violent offenders. Law enforcement develops prosecutable drug cases for nonviolent dealers but suspends these unless a dealer continues dealing. This allows law enforcement to put dealers on notice that any future dealing will result in certain, immediate sanctions. The DMI partnership brings together dealers, their families, law enforcement, social service providers, and community leaders for a call-in meeting that makes clear that selling drugs openly must stop and the market is closed. The partnership tells dealers clearly and directly that the community cares about them but rejects their behavior, that help is available, and that continued dealing will result in immediate sanctions through the activation of existing cases. Dozens of cities have implemented DMI with reductions in violent and drug-related crime, minimized use of law enforcement, strong endorsement from the community, and improved relationships between law enforcement and residents.

The National Network produced Drug Market Intervention: An Implementation Guide, published by COPS Office in 2015, to provide a practical tool for stakeholders seeking to implement DMI in their jurisdictions.

Drug Market Intervention: An Implementation Guide

The guide to the Drug Market Intervention provides practical information intended to help law enforcement, community, and social services partners prepare and successfully execute DMI to close overt drug markets.

The High Point Drug Market Intervention Strategy (2009)

This publication sets out the compelling story of High Point’s original Drug Market Intervention work and describes how the intervention was successfully duplicated in Providence, Rhode Island.

Drug Market Strategy: Basic Implementation Steps

A 9-step outline of the fundamental work and partnerships involved in the strategy.

Practice Brief: Keeping Drug Markets Closed--The High Point Protocol

Since pioneering the Drug Market Intervention in 2004, the city of High Point, NC has developed a protocol to ensure that the five street drug markets it successfully shut down stay closed. This paper summarizes the key componentens of its maintenance protocol.

Practice Brief: Norms, Narrative and Community Engagement for Crime Prevention (Community Moral Voice)

The norms and narratives held by offenders and potential offenders; communities; and law enforcement have tremendous impact on crime and crime prevention, how each party views the others, and their actions; and their willingness to work together. This paper addresses the practical aspects of addressing and even changing norms and narratives in crime prevention.

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.

These evaluation designs permit the clearest assessment of “cause and effect” in determining whether hot spots policing programs prevent crime. These designs examine pre- and post-program measurement of crime outcomes in targeted locations relative to “control” locations.  The control groups in the identified hot spots evaluations received routine levels of traditional police enforcement tactics. The deterrence message was a promise to gang members that violent behavior would evoke an immediate and intense response from law enforcement.

The Effects of “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime

This report is a meta-analysis that evaluates impact on homicide and violence in a variety of cities that have implemented our Group Violence Intervention or the Drug Market Intervention.

Reclaiming the Streets, Healing the Community (2010)

Practice Brief: Norms, Narratives, and Community Engagement for Crime Prevention (2010)

This practice brief by David Kennedy provides concrete guidance for addressing “norms and narratives” held by offenders and potential offenders, communities, and law enforcement that have been found to have tremendous impact on crime and crime prevention, how each party views the others and their actions, and their willingness to work together.

Disrupting Open Air Drug Markets (2009)

This PowerPoint presentation, by Dr. Nicholas Corsaro et al., provides an overview of the focused-deterrence model, how the National Network’s drug market strategy fits into this model, and offers details of an evaluation of the drug market intervention implemented in Rockford, IL and of other related work.

Bureau of Justice Assistance – Drug Market Intervention: Implementation Guide and Lessons Learned (2009)

This implementation and lessons-learned guide is organized by the nine basic steps for implementing the Drug Market Intervention Initiative (see Basic Implementation Guide). Within each step there are suggestions for implementing the step as well as common questions and issues to discuss with possible responses to the questions. These suggestions were culled from the initial rounds of DMI trainings where officials from High Point, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Providence, Rockford, Hempstead and Nashville served as faculty and offered the advice described within this document.

Seattle Drug Market Initiative (2009)

This brief summary outlines Seattle’s initiative to address street level drug dealing in residential neighborhoods. Used as a tool to inform neighborhood residents and members of the public about the goals of the initiative, it explains how the effort differs from traditional police/prosecutor undercover narcotics operations.

Drugs, Race and Common Ground: Reflections on the High Point Intervention (2008)

This article is based on remarks delivered by National Network co-chair David Kennedy at the 2008 National Institute of Justice conference, setting out the key elements of the High Point drug market intervention. It also provides information on how this model evolved out of the original Ceasefire intervention in Boston, which combined problem-oriented policing with collaboration between law enforcement and community stakeholders. 

East Nashville Intervention Project (2008)

This PowerPoint presentation, by Robert Nash, Commander of the East Precinct of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, provides an overview of the overt drug market strategy as implemented in the city’s North 2nd Street neighborhood. A detailed process and impact assessment of the Nashville strategy by Corsaro, Brunson & McGarell is forthcoming.

Best, M (2009) Model Police WorkUNCG Research, (7) 8-15

Corsaro, N., Hunt, E.D., Kroovand Hipple, N., McGarrell, E. (2012). The Impact of Drug Market Pulling Levers Policing on Neighborhood ViolenceCriminology & Public Policy. Vol. 11, Issue 2.

Corsaro, N., Brunson, R.K., McGarrell, E.F. (2009). Problem-Oriented Policing and Open-Air Drug Markets: Examining the Rockford Pulling Levers Deterrence StrategyCrime & Delinquency

Corsaro, N., McGarrell, E.F. (2009). An Evaluation of the Nashville Drug Market Initiative (DMI) Pulling Levers Strategy. Drug Market Intervention Working Paper. East Lansing, MA: Michigan State University

Hipple, N.K., Corsaro, N., McGarrell, E. F (2010). The High Point Drug Market Initiative: A Process and Impact Assessment. East Lansing, MA: Michigan State University 

Kennedy, D. M. (2009, March). Drugs, Race and Common Ground: Reflections on the High Point Intervention.National Institute of Justice Journal, No. 262.

Kennedy, D.M. (2008). Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction. NY: Routledge - Chapter 9

McGarrell, E. F., Corsaro, N., Brunson, R..K. (2010). The Drug Market Intervention Approach to Overt Drug MarketsVARSTVOSLOVJE, Journal of Criminal Justice and Security. Year 12 No. 4. pp. 397-407

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



reduction in drug offenses in all 4 neighborhoods

High Point


reduction in drug offenses



reduction in non-violent offenses


News & Updates

Case Study: Using DMI to Combat Covert Opioid Markets

March 2018  |  Police Chief Magazine  

Today’s opioid markets are different from the open-air drug markets that were subject to special attention in past DMI implementations; they are, in particular, covert rather than overt. People are not, for the most part, standing out on street corners selling opioids or operating flagrant drug houses. The role that was played by geographic location in overt markets is instead played by social networks of dealers and addicts. But, within those networks, potentially similar elements operate: supply, demand, and the need for the successful functioning of markets. In principle, as long as the structure of an opioid market can be analyzed and its key dynamics identified, the logic of market disruption might be applicable. In considering a “covert market” DMI, the two most pressing practical questions seem to be: (1) Is it possible to identify the shape of the market and, especially, the key dealers in it? and (2) Is the number of key dealers manageably small, and can we imagine a practical and potentially meaningful intervention?

Tags: Rutland Drug Market Intervention

Focused Deterrence Strategies Save Lives

January 2018  |  Criminology & Public Policy  

An important new meta-analysis of 24 focused deterrence implementations—in particular, the National Network’s Group Violence Intervention and Drug Market Intervention—was published in Criminology & Public Policy. The systematic review, led by Professors Weisburd, Braga, and Turchan, found that focused deterrence strategies “generate noteworthy crime reduction impacts and should be part of a broader portfolio of crime reduction strategies available to policy makers and practitioners.”

In a companion paper analyzing the findings of the systematic review, Professor Robin Engel put a finer tip on their conclusion: "Focused deterrence strategies save lives." 

Tags: Drug Market InterventionGroup Violence Intervention

Survey: How Do People in High-Crime, Low-Income Communities View the Police?

February 2017  |  Urban Institute  

"The survey found that while residents of these neighborhoods are distrustful of police, they nevertheless want to cooperate and partner with police to make their communities safer. A door-to-door survey in high-crime neighborhoods of six cities found that less than a third of residents believe police respect people’s rights, but the vast majority believe laws should be strictly followed and many would volunteer their time to help police solve crimes, find suspects, and discuss crime in their neighborhood."

Tags: BirminghamFort WorthGaryMinneapolisPittsburghStockton Drug Market InterventionGroup Violence Intervention Reconciliation

High Point chief talks about department training, policies in light of nationwide discussion

July 2016  |  Greensboro News and Record  

"The High Point Police Department held a community forum Thursday night so Chief Kenneth Shultz could explain how the department hopes to avoid the issues that others have faced."

Tags: High Point Drug Market InterventionGroup Violence InterventionIntimate Partner Violence Intervention

Tragedy Moves A Community To Combat Drug Addiction

January 2016  |  NPR  

Following the tragic death of a high school senior in Rutland, Vermont in 2012, "city officials, police and neighborhood activists came together to create a grassroots organization called Project VISION" to combat the city's heroin problem. The group's membership now stands at nearly 300 people ranging from local officials, law enforcement, nonprofits, service organizations, state agencies, and church groups.

Tags: Drug Market Intervention Support and Outreach

Rutland’s Fight Against Opiates Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

January 2016  |  Vermont Public Radio   

Project Vision in Vermont has been working to effectively address the heroin epidemic sweeping the state. The NNSC has provided informal advising to officials in Rutland, VT based on our Drug Market Intervention and have been pleased to see it being successfully mapped to the heroin crisis that is affecting Vermont and many other areas across the country. 

Tags: Drug Market Intervention Custom NotificationsSupport and Outreach

Rutland is safe, getting safer

January 2016  |  Rutland Herald   

Commander Scott Tucker, who plays an integral role in Project Vision wrote a piece outlining the early success that the initiative has created. 

Tags: Rutland Drug Market Intervention

How Rutland, Vt., Is Taking On Drug Trafficking With ‘Project Vision’

November 2015  |  WBUR Boston  

National Network Director David Kennedy appeared on a radio program to discuss the strategy being used in Rutland, VT to combat the city's heroin problem. 

Tags: Drug Market Intervention Custom NotificationsSupport and Outreach

In Rutland, Vt., a rare glimmer of hope in battle against opioid addiction

October 2015  |  Boston Globe  

"In Rutland, the number of crimes related to drug use is plummeting, hundreds of people are receiving addiction treatment, and notorious drug dens are being razed and replaced by parks. It’s an aggressive counterattack, called Project Vision, that has enlisted residents and community leaders in a sweeping collaboration that is gaining national attention."


Tags: Drug Market Intervention Custom NotificationsSupport and Outreach

Bipartisan Summit: Mass Incarceration in America: Assessing the Costs & Human Impacts

April 2015  |  Dream Corps  

David Kennedy spoke on this panel, entitled Mass Incarceration in America: Assessing the Costs & Human Impacts, at the historic Bipartisan Summit for Criminal Justice Reform in March.For more information, visit http://www.bipartisansummit.org/.

Tags: Drug Market InterventionGroup Violence Intervention Reconciliation

New DMI Guide

The brand new guide to the Drug Market Intervention (DMI), published by the COPS Office at DOJ, provides practical information intended to help law enforcement, community, and social services partners prepare and successfully execute DMI to close overt drug markets.