• NNSC International

    International Initiatives is focused on applying NNSC's violence reduction framework to contexts outside the U.S.

About the Strategy
Tools & Guides

Background and Introduction

The National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) has worked collaboratively with over 60 city partners across the United States to reduce violence. In 2017, we launched NNSC International to collaborate with a diverse range of city and country partners outside the US, broadening significantly the scope of our network.

The time feels right for investing in these partnerships. In the Latin America region, which houses the vast majority of the cities with the highest homicide rates, urban violence is on the rise. Global refugee flows are higher than any time since World War II, with more refugees fleeing violence than natural disaster. While conflict violence is decreasing, the rate of interpersonal violence is on the rise—three out of the five countries with the highest violent death rates in 2016 were not engaged in armed conflict. Additionally, cities around the world are increasingly concerned with threats of violent extremism. There is a growing need for collaborative, evidence-based, and effective violence reduction solutions. NNSC International invests in working with partners to reverse these negative trends using strategies with a proven track record. Through these partnerships, we can play a strong role in addressing global violence. 

Guided by our six key principles, we take steps to learn from our partners in an effort to fully understand the challenges they face. These steps include action research and convening local thought leaders who will work with us to adapt the framework to their context. Building coalitions of key stakeholders in the community, knowledge sharing with other cities in our network, and consulting with subject matter experts are different ways we support our partners. The goal is to achieve sustainable impact through leveraging and reallocating existing resources and social capital to implement the strategy, rather than relying on significant additional funding.


At NNSC International, we believe that successful violence reduction must be a collective effort across institutions and communities. Effective violence reduction hinges on the legitimacy of state institutions in the eyes of the community—when legitimacy goes down, violence goes up. Communities need to see law enforcement, especially the police, as fair, respectful, and on their side. Our work in the United States continuously addresses questions of legitimacy in cities and communities that have been historically marginalized and where institutions have struggled to meet the needs and demands of the people they serve. NNSC International brings this understanding of how legitimacy issues play out in practice to our global network.

As a global community we have committed to certain principles of human rights, global development, and international cooperation. We believe that NNSC approaches can be a positive part of the solution to violence outside the U.S., just as they have been a part of the solution to reducing violence within the U.S.


VIDEO: Effective Violence Prevention: Progress and Practice in Non-U.S. Contexts

This panel from the 2017 NNNSC National Conference discusses applications and challenges in contexts as diverse as Sweden, Honduras, Bermuda, El Salvador, and Mexico, while also exploring how government officials and communities are organizing to address those challenges.


  • Rachel Locke, Director, International Interventions, National Network for Safe Communities (moderator)
  • H.E. Jeffrey Baron, Minister of National Security, Government of Bermuda
  • Enrique Betancourt, Director of the Citizen Security Initiative, Chemonics International
  • Jeremy Biddle, Coordinator, Central America Regional Security Initiative, United States Agency for International Development
  • Kimberley Jackson, Program Manager, Ministry of Social Development and Sports; and Managing Director, Team Street Safe, Government of Bermuda
  • Kurt Ver Beek, Vice President, Asociación para una Sociedad Más Justa (Association for a More Just Society), Honduras
  • Erik Wennerström, Director-General, Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention

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.

NNSC International Director Rachel Locke at First International Citizen Security Summit


NNSC International Director Rachel Locke delivered the keynote address at the first annual Citizen Security Summit, which took place from January 31-February 1, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Locke discussed focused deterrence and its application outside of the United States. In attendance were representatives from implementing organizations, the academic and private sectors, civil society, government institutions and decision makers in Baja California and other regions of Mexico. They came together to discuss policy options, analyze the viability of different strategies, and exchange knowledge about successful practices to foster collaboration around contextualized crime and violence prevention approaches.

VIDEO: What Works in Reducing Community Violence: Spotlight on Central America and Mexico

Over the past decade, Mexico and Central America have witnessed escalating levels of community violence. Latin America as a whole is the most violent region in the world, accounting for 33 percent of global homicides despite representing only 9 percent of the world’s population. While prevention and rehabilitation are gaining ground in the region, government responses to violent crime continue to trend towards heavy-handed suppression, which has led to the wrongful arrest of thousands of youth, overwhelmed prisons and justice systems, and empowered gangs.
This is a discussion about what works in reducing community level violence and can be implemented in Central America. The dialogue was based on a study for USAID by Thomas Abt from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Speakers expanded on various evidence-based approaches to reducing crime and violence, experiences throughout the region, and opportunities for replication in the Northern Triangle.

ARTICLE: Surgical Strikes in the Drug Wars: Smarter Policies for Both Sides of the Border

By Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and at NYU Wagner

More than a thousand people die each month in drug-dealing violence in Mexico, and the toll has been rising. In some parts of the country, the police find themselves outgunned by drug traffickers and must rely on the armed forces. Meanwhile, the United States suffers from the widespread abuse of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and cannabis; violence and disorder surrounding retail drug markets; property theft and violent crime committed by drug abusers; and mass incarceration, including half a million people behind bars for drug offenses and at least as many for crimes committed for money to buy drugs.

Current policies, clearly, have unsatisfactory results. But what is to replace them? Neither of the standard alternatives -- a more vigorous pursuit of current antidrug efforts or a system of legal availability for currently proscribed drugs -- offers much hope. Instead, it is time for Mexico and the United States to consider a set of less conventional approaches.

ARTICLE: Taking Boston's lead, police in Rio lighten up

By Andrew Downie

A couple of months ago, Major Antonio Carlos Carballo would never have ventured alone into the back alleys of the Cantagalo slum. Too many men armed with semi-automatic weapons. Too many cocaine traffickers handing out packets to child couriers.

Today, however, the amiable police commander climbs up the mountain like a man who's always lived here. Armed with just a pistol, he slowly hikes into the bowels of the muddy favela, past open sewers and goats. He pats children on the head, inquires after a young man's caged birds and sings out "Good afternoon" to all.

Heading a revamped community police force, Mr. Carballo tries, with the simplest of gestures, to show locals that the police are not the enemy. The concept of community policing may seem like common sense in wealthy countries. But here in the Rio slums, the idea, modeled on a similar program in Boston, is simply revolutionary.


Jaitman, L., Guerrero R.,  Olavarría-Gambi, M., Soares, R. (2015). The Welfare Costs of Crime and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18235/0000170.

Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).(2017). The Economic Cost of Violence Containment. Retrieved from http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2017/04/The-Economic-Cost-of-Violence-Containment.pdf

Karstedt, Susanne.(2017). Scaling criminology: From street violence to atrocity crimes, pp. 465-482. In: Drahos, Peter. Regulatory Theory: Foundations and Applications. Canberra: Australia National University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1q1crtm.38.

Felbab-Brown, V. (2013). Peña Nieto’s Piñata: The Promise and Pitfalls of Mexico’s New Security Policy against Organized Crime. Latin America Initiative, Foreign Policy at Brookings.  Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/mexico-new-security-policy-felbabbrown.pdf.

International Crisis Group. (2017). Mafia of the Poor: Gang Violence and Extortion in Central America. Latin America Report N.62. Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/docid/58e74ed64.html.

Mazerolle, L., Bennet, S., Davis, S., Sargeant, E., & Manning,  M. Legitimacy in Policing: A Systematic Review . Campbell Systematic Reviews (2013:1). DOI: 10.4073/csr.2013.1.

Fearon, J., & Hoeffler, A. (2014). Benefits and Costs of the Conflict and Violence Targets for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Copenhagen Consensus Center. Retrieved from http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/conflict_assessment_-_hoeffler_and_fearon_0.pdf.

Papachristos, A., Meares, T., & Fagan, J. (2013) Why Do Criminals Obey the Law? The Influence of Legitimacy and Social Networks on Active Gun Offenders, 102 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 397. Retrieved from http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/jclc/vol102/iss2/3.


Focused Deterrence Strategy 

Abt, T., & Winship, T. What Works in Reducing Community Violence: A Meta-Review and Field Study for the Northern Triangle. USAID. February 2016. https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/USAID-2016-What-Works-in-Reducing-Community-Violence-Final-Report.pdf.

Edward R. Maguire & William R. King. (2013). Transferring criminal investigation methods from developed to developing nations, Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 23:3, 346-361, DOI: 10.1080/10439463.2013.818097

Densley J.A., Jones D.S. 2016. Pulling Levers on Gang Violence in London and St. Paul. In: Maxson C., Esbensen FA. (eds.) Gang Transitions and Transformations in an International Context. Switzerland, Cham: Springer. DOI: doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29602-9_16.

Violence Reduction Unit, Scotland. (2014). Case Study: Preventative criminal justice in Glasgow, Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.reform.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Preventative_criminal_justice_in_Glasgow_Scotland.pdf.

Muggah, R., Szabó de Carvalho, I., Alvarado, N., Marmolejo, L., & Wang, R. (2016). Making Cities Safer: Citizen Security Innovations from Latin America. Strategic Paper 20, Igarape Institute. Retrieved from https://publications.iadb.org/handle/11319/7757

Felbab-Brown, V. (2013). Focused deterrence, selective targeting, drug trafficking and organised crime: Concepts and practicalities. (Rep. No. 2). Retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/drug-law-enforcement-felbabbrown.pdf.

Braga, A. (2017). Focused Deterrence Strategies. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.11.

Thacher, David. (2016). Channeling Police Discretion: The Hidden Potential of Focused Deterrence. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2016(13), 533-577.

News & Updates

Calling MS-13 ‘Animals’ Isn’t Just Racist—It’s Dangerous and Counterproductive

June 2018  |  The Crime Report  

On May 21, the White House issued a statement that repeatedly used the word “animals” to describe people involved in the MS-13 gang. Two days later, at a public forum on Long Island, this language was repeated and reinforced.

MS-13 (the initials for Mara Salvatrucha) originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s through a complex interplay of people fleeing El Salvador’s civil war, Mexican gangs in southern California, and US immigration policy.

Tags: NNSC International

Police Legitimacy and Homicide: A Macro-Comparative Analysis

May 2018  |  Social Forces  

This study tests the claim that police legitimacy affects the prevalence of homicide. The analysis suggests that police legitimacy has a substantial, negative association with homicide rates, consistent across different sources of homicide data and controlling for a variety of economic, political, and demographic variables. 

Tags: NNSC International

Violent Crime in the United States: Focus, Prevention and Legitimacy

April 2018  |  The United States Studies Centre  

PODCAST: Following the recent March for Our Lives, gun violence is front and centre in America’s law and order debate. Join us at our upcoming event in collaboration with the National Network for Safe Communities looking at how cities implement strategies to reduce violence, improve public safety and minimise arrest and incarceration. Can certain interventions improve relationships between law enforcement and the communities it serves?

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El Salvador