The Center is actively engaged in crime prevention initiatives in jurisdictions around the country and the world. It is particularly focused on issues affecting our most vulnerable communities: violent street groups, gun violence and gun trafficking, overt drug markets, and domestic violence. It is also focused on repairing relationships between those communities and law enforcement; strengthening communities; and reducing arrest and incarceration.
Much of the Center’s work operates from a framework in which a partnership of law enforcement, community members, outreach workers and social service providers directly engage with offenders to set standards, offer help, and establish clear consequences for continued offending. This framework produced the original “Operation Ceasefire” intervention, first implemented in Boston in the mid-1990s to address group-related gun violence, and subsequently the Drug Market Intervention, first implemented in High Point, NC in 2004 to eliminate open-air drug markets. It is being further developed for other important public safety issues, including domestic violence.
In June 2009, the Center launched the National Network for Safe Communities, bringing together the more than 50 U.S. cities actively involved in implementing one or several of these strategies and committed to their continued development and broader implementation.
The Center works closely with other crime reduction experts around the country, including law enforcement practitioners, community leaders, and partners at Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Cincinnati, Rutgers University, Michigan State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the California Partnership for Safe Communities, and others.
The Center’s work is supported by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nicholson Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, and the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services.
On Thursday, September 18, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice has awarded the National Network for Safe Communities, through John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a three-year, $4.75 million grant to launch a National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. The National Initiative will be directed by Professor David Kennedy, with John Jay College President Jeremy Travis, Professor Tracey Meares and Professor Tom Tyler of Yale Law School, Professor Phillip Atiba Goff of UCLA, and Dr. Nancy La Vigne and Dr. Jocelyn Fontaine of the Urban Institute as principal partners. The National Initiative is designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. It also aims to advance the public and scholarly understandings of the issues contributing to those relationships.
“This is one of the most ambitious and important steps the federal government has taken during my career in criminal justice,” said John Jay College President Jeremy Travis. “Addressing the broken relationships between the police and communities of color across the nation is a fundamental challenge facing our democracy. We’re honored that the U.S. Department of Justice has asked John Jay and our colleagues to do this work, and tremendously excited about what that work could mean for the country.”
The National Initiative will highlight three areas that hold great promise for concrete, rapid progress. Racial reconciliation facilitates frank conversations between minority communities and law enforcement that allow them to address historic tensions, grievances, and misconceptions between them and reset relationships. Procedural justice focuses on how the characteristics of law enforcement interactions with the public shape the public’s views of the police, their willingness to obey the law, and actual crime rates. Implicit bias focuses on how largely unconscious psychological processes can shape authorities’ actions and lead to racially disparate outcomes even where actual racism is not present.
The National Initiative will combine existing and newly developed interventions informed by these ideas in five pilot sites around the country. It will also develop and implement interventions for victims of domestic violence and other crimes, youth, and the LGBTQI community; conduct research and evaluations; and establish a national clearinghouse where information, research, and technical assistance are readily accessible for law enforcement, criminal justice practitioners and community leaders.
Professor David Kennedy of John Jay College’s National Network for Safe Communities works in troubled communities nationally and has driven innovative practice in racial reconciliation in communities. Professor Tracey Meares and Professor Tom Tyler of Yale Law School bring leading expertise on procedural justice. Professor Phillip Atiba Goff of UCLA brings leading expertise on implicit bias. Dr. Nancy La Vigne and Dr. Jocelyn Fontaine of the Urban Institute bring broad research and implementation capacity. Collectively, the partners are working with scores of cities across the United States on these issues. The initiative will be guided by a board of advisors which will include national leaders from law enforcement, academia and faith-based groups, as well as community stakeholders and civil rights advocates.
“This is the right team at the right time,” Kennedy says. “Our experience in city after city has shown us that both law enforcement and communities are far more ready for change than people think, Ferguson has galvanized the nation on this issue, and DOJ’s National Initiative will greatly enhance and accelerate that process.”