Many of the Center’s projects operate in a crime prevention framework known as “focused deterrence.” This framework identifies the core offenders involved in a particular crime problem; creates a law enforcement, community, and social service partnership; opens direct communication with the offenders; and makes clear to them the affected community wants them to stop what they are doing, there is help available to them, and there will be consequences for continued misbehavior. For an introduction to the focused deterrence framework, see: Pulling Levers: Getting Deterrence Right and Pulling Levers: Chronic Offenders, High-Crime Settings, and a Theory of Prevention
The Center focuses its work on advancing two well-developed and distinct strategies: the group violence reduction strategy (GVRS), which addresses serious violence associated with groups of offenders; and the drug market intervention (DMI), which addresses “overt” drug markets of the kind that involve street dealers, drug houses, drive-through buyers, prostitution and the like.
The Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS)
The group violence reduction strategy, first demonstrated as “Operation Ceasefire” in Boston in 1996 and subsequently in many other jurisdictions, relies on direct communication to violent groups by a partnership of law-enforcement, service providers, and community figures. Together the partnership delivers a unified “no violence” message, explains that violence will bring law enforcement attention to entire groups, offers services and alternatives to group members, and articulates community norms against violence.
The strategy is unusual, but based on common sense and practical experience. Violence in troubled neighborhoods is caused predominantly by a remarkably small and active number of people locked in group dynamics on the street: gangs, drug crews, and the like. The internal dynamics of these groups and the “honor” code of the street drive violence between groups and individuals. The individuals that comprise these groups typically constitute less than 0.5 percent of a city’s population.
The strategy holds that violence can be dramatically reduced when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate: (1) a credible, moral message against violence; (2) a credible law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence; and (3) a genuine offer of help for those who want it. To do this, a partnership of law enforcement, social service providers, and community actors – parents, ministers, gang outreach workers, neighborhood associations, ex-offenders, and others – must be assembled and must engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.
The key moment in the strategy is a “call-in,” or “notification,” repeated as necessary: a face-to-face meeting between gang members and the partnership. The partners deliver key messages to gang members: that the violence is wrong and has to stop; that the community needs them alive and out of prison and with their loved ones; that help is available to all who would accept it; and that any future violence will be met with clear, predictable, and certain consequences.
Where properly implemented, rapid reductions in serious violence are routine, with low levels of actual enforcement and the enthusiastic support of affected communities. A Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review, the gold standard in evaluating social science interventions, has found “strong empirical evidence” for the effectiveness of the group violence strategy, underscoring what the research record and field experience have long suggested: that a crime prevention approach that combines deterrence with elements that encourage offenders away from crime, strengthen a community’s collective efficacy, and enhance police legitimacy can create “noteworthy crime reductions.”
The Drug Market Intervention (DMI)
First demonstrated in High Point, North Carolina, in 2004, and often referred to as the “High Point model,” the drug market intervention (DMI) is designed to close neighborhood drug markets permanently. Moving drug market by drug market in any particular jurisdiction, it identifies street-level dealers; arrests violent offenders; suspends cases for non-violent dealers, and brings together drug dealers, their families, law enforcement and criminal justice officials, service providers, and community leaders for a meeting that makes clear the dealing has to stop, the community cares for the offenders but reject their conduct, help is available, and renewed dealing will result in the activation of the existing case.
This strategy has been shown to almost completely eliminate these markets, with low levels of arrest and prosecution; rebuild relationships between minority communities and law enforcement; and redirect the lives of drug dealers.
For details on how the strategy was first applied in High Point, see Chapter 9 of David Kennedy’s book Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction. For an outline of implementation steps, see the BJA Drug Market Intervention Outline. For more materials on the approach, go to Research of Press.
Watch this video for an overview of the Drug Market
Intervention as first implemented in High Point.
The Domestic Violence Strategy (DVS)
Traditional efforts to control the most violent domestic offenders and protect their victims have rarely proven effective. Neither law enforcement nor treatment approaches have shown substantial impact. The Center for Crime Prevention and Control, once again in cooperation with the High Point Police Department and the High Point Community Against Violence, is testing a radical new domestic violence intervention.
• identifies and tracks domestic violence offenders from their first contact with police;
• steadily increases attention and consequences to offenders, and measures to protect victims, with repeat contacts;
• addresses the most dangerous offenders with a wide range of legal tools;
• puts offenders on formal prior notice when a “next offense” will bring such extraordinary legal attention;
• focuses community “moral voices” on such offenders to set a clear standard that domestic violence is unacceptable;
• puts the burden of addressing domestic violence on the authorities and the community rather than the victim.
For further details, see Chapter 10 of David Kennedy’s book Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction.
In November 2012, High Point was named one of 20 finalists for its Domestic Violence Initiative for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayor Challenge.