Project Safe Neighborhoods: Strategic Interventions, Strategic Problem-Solving Responses to Gang Crime and Gang Problems: Case Study 8   [open pdf - 431KB]

"The 1980s through early 1990s produced an unprecedented increase in gangs, gun assaults, and youth homicides. These increases spurred federal and local governments to action, including the implementation of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative throughout the nation. [...] In the search for appropriate responses to these problems, suppression has been the strategy most likely to be adopted. This makes sense for a variety of reasons: law enforcement are a visible and generally appropriate resource in the effort to combat crime and are ready to implement strategies with relatively short notice. However, gang researchers have argued that enforcement responses are less likely to be successful if isolated from other strategies. It is important that prevention and intervention activities occur in conjunction with suppression, despite the well-documented challenges in implementing and maintaining such efforts. In the last decade, a number of federal initiatives have been developed to emphasize suppression or social opportunities provision. COPS's [Community Oriented Policing Services] Anti-Gang Initiative is a good example of a program that was based almost exclusively on suppression. This is counter-balanced by HHS's [Department of Health and Human Services] Youth Gang Drug Prevention Program, which focused exclusively on social opportunities. While the evaluation data do not enable a definitive conclusion about the effectiveness of these interventions, they have not made substantial inroads into the gang problem in the communities where they were funded. If there is a single message from this review of prior gang intervention strategies, it is that law enforcement and social opportunities provision must work hand-in-hand if successful interventions are to be implemented."

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