Bynum, T. S, & Varano, S. P. (2003). The Anti-Gang Initiative in Detroit: An aggressive enforcement approach to gangs. In S. Decker (Ed.), Policing Gangs and Youth Violence (pp. 214-238). Belmont CA: Wadsworth/ Thomson Learning.



Gang suppression (aggressive patrol, order maintenance)


Matrix Dimensions:

  • X-axis: Group
  • Y-axis: General
  • Z-axis: Mostly Reactive


  • Statistically significant success
  • Reported crime decreases substantially in two target precincts while increasing in comparison precinct (e.g. gun assaults drop 65% and 72% in two target precincts and increase 24% in comparison precinct)

Methodological Rigor:

Moderate- weak comparison group


Abstract (from NCJRS):

After reviewing the history of gang activity in Detroit, this chapter describes the implementation of the federally funded Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI) in the city, followed by a presentation of the methodology and findings of an evaluation of the program. Whatever the eventual effect of structural changes in gangs in Detroit over the past 15 years, data indicate that gang members continue to be heavily involved in the sale and distribution of drugs, and gang members are also much more likely to have extensive experience with illegal firearms. Detroit was 1 15 cities selected to participate in the AGI, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The purpose of the AGI program was to foster the development of innovative and comprehensive strategies to combat gang-related disorder in several communities across the Nation. Three principles were at the core of Detroit’s AGI efforts. First, grant funds supported the development of a new unit within the Detroit Police Department’s Special Crimes Section (SCS) that would focus only on gang-related crime and disorder. Second, the project recognized the need for geographic integrity, i.e., concentrating intervention efforts in an identified section of the city. Third, the newly created unit recruited SCS officers and precinct patrol officers with knowledge of their respective precincts to compose a new unit called the Gang Specialist Unit. This chapter describes gangs in the target precincts, the suppression component of the AGI, the vertical prosecution component, and intervention strategies. The evaluation found that over the period of the intervention of the AGI project, there was a considerable decrease in gun crimes in the target precincts; whereas, the number of such offenses increased in the comparison precinct. Although the AGI initiative was largely successful, several difficulties were identified, including administrative problems that limited the availability of equipment and training for the Gang Specialist Unit and problems with overly restrictive geographic assignments.