Policy Analysis for Communities

The community is the foundation of social and government institutions and an active resource in preventing crime. CEBCP scholars are engaged in innovative research of strategies that place the community at the forefront of crime prevention efforts, and on the interaction of legal institutions and communities.

Rainier Beach Campus Safety Continuum: A Comprehensive Place-Based Approach

Charlotte Gill (PI) and Zoe Vitter

National Institute of Justice, 2016-CK-BX-0005, $3,850,000

This project is for the development and evaluation of the Rainier Beach Campus Safety Continuum (RBCSC), a community-led, place-based, evidence-informed approach to addressing school and community safety and reducing racial disparity in school discipline and police contact in the Rainier Beach neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. The project builds on two existing local initiatives: Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, a community-led, place-based approach to addressing youth crime at hot spots; and Rainier Beach: Beautiful!, an application of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an evidence-based behavioral management approach for schools, into community facilities and businesses. Our project will assess whether PBIS can be successfully combined with school-based restorative justice (RJ) to enhance student support, and whether the integrated PBIS-RJ approach can be extended into the broader community to change social norms and improve safety. Through PBIS-RJ we plan to leverage community collective efficacy and informal social control, creating a continuum of positive support within and outside of school that focuses primarily on changing the way adult-run institutions operate and regulate youth behavior in the interests of universal safety. This project is a partnership between CEBCP, the City of Seattle Office of City Auditor, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Neighborhood Group, and the Rainier Beach community.

Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth

Charlotte Gill, David Weisburd (PIs), and Zoe Vitter

Bureau of Justice Assistance Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (with City of Seattle), 2012-AJ-BX-0006, $978,000 (2012-2016)
City of Seattle Human Services Department, $110,000 (2016-2017)

This project focuses on the development and evaluation of Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth (ABSPY), an innovative, place-based, community-led youth crime prevention strategy in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. The program partners local community members, police, city and non-profit agencies, and researchers in the identification and implementation of non-arrest approaches in hot spots of youth crime. This project builds upon Seattle’s strong history and culture of community collaboration and neighborhood planning, as well as prior work in the city showing a strong concentration of juvenile crime at street segments and the theoretical and evidence base for non-arrest interventions with youth. This project was supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program through 2016. Preliminary evaluation findings for ABSPY show promising effects, and the City of Seattle has committed to sustaining the program, including CEBCP’s evaluation component, through 2018.


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Community-Led Interventions in Rural Hot Spots

Charlotte Gill (PI), Zoe Vitter, and Samantha Wente

Bureau of Justice Assistance Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (with Partners for Education at Berea College), 2015-AJ-BX-0007, $999,999

CEBCP and Partners for Education at Berea College are collaborating to develop a community planning and problem-solving process to identify the locations of and risk factors for juvenile and youth crime in three counties of the Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone (Bell, Clay, and Harlan Counties). Our goal is to partner community members and Promise Zone stakeholders to identify place-based risk factors for crime and develop evidence-informed strategies to respond to them. The planning and implementation process builds on the existing history and culture of collaboration, neighborhood revitalization, and place-based approaches in these communities. A secondary goal of this study is to contribute to the limited research base on crime patterns in rural areas.

See our project page on LISC’s BCJI website for more information.

An Evidence-Assessment of the Recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper (PIs), Charlotte Gill (co-PI), Julie Hibdon, Cody Telep and Laurie Robinson (Faculty Researchers)

Laura and John Arnold Foundation (via International Association of Chiefs of Police), $168,821

The Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing is one of the most significant documents for law enforcement in modern history. The Task Force was charged by President Obama in 2014 to “examine ways of fostering strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect and to make recommendations to the President on the ways policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust” (Final Report, p. 5). But where should law enforcement agencies begin in implementing these recommendations? Which recommendations should be prioritized for action, for policy implementation, or for more research? With a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Institute for Community-Police Relations of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has collaborated with researchers from George Mason University’s (GMU) Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy to create an evidence-based Blueprint for 21st Century Policing. The research team was charged with reviewing existing research knowledge about those Task Force recommendations relevant to state and local law enforcement, highlighting promising efforts based on research knowledge, and identifying issues that need more research and testing.

REPORT: An Evidence-Assessment of the Recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (by C. Lum, C.S. Koper, C. Gill, J. Hibdon, C. Telep, and L. Robinson)

Implementing and Evaluating Community Policing Strategies in Hot Spots of Juvenile Offending

David Weisburd (PI), Charlotte Gill (co-PI), and Zoe Vitter

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2012-CK-WX-K026, $250,000

While there is a growing body of research indicating that crime concentrates at small geographic units or ‘hot spots,’ little research has examined the unique characteristics of juvenile offending at places. In this project, funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, we developed, implemented, and rigorously evaluated a community-oriented policing approach to juvenile crime hot spots in Seattle. The police worked with the community to develop community policing and problem-solving responses targeted at the specific risk factors for juvenile crime in each hot spot. These strategies, while police-led, focused on crime prevention rather than traditional arrest-based law enforcement approaches. Although the police achieved several successes, there was no overall effect on crime in the hot spots. However, the project revealed key lessons for police leaders and jurisdictions seeking to implement community policing, including the importance of organizational support and training for community policing efforts.

FINAL REPORT (coming soon)

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Increasing Collective Efficacy at Crime Hot Spots: A Patrol Force Approach in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

David Weisburd (PI), Charlotte Gill (co-PI),  Alese Wooditch, and Tori Goldberg

Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Policing Initiative (with Brooklyn Park Police Department), 2013-DB-BX-0030, $700,000

This project capitalizes on new evidence that indicators of social control, such as collective efficacy, are concentrated at individual street blocks. High collective efficacy is associated with a lower risk of a block becoming a crime hot spot. Traditional hot spots policing approaches rarely account for the social context of crime at places, or the role of the community in crime prevention. In this project, CEBCP and the Brooklyn Park Police Department collaborated to develop a problem-solving approach called BP-ACT (Brooklyn Park-Assets Coming Together to Take Action), in which police first identified “assets” (key residents and community resources) at the hot spots and then brought these resources together to collectively develop solutions to crime problems. The goal of BP-ACT is for the police to help build collective efficacy by bringing communities together to deal with crime and disorder at hot spots. We are evaluating BP-ACT using a randomized controlled trial and expect to have final results by late 2017.

See our project page on the Smart Policing Initiative website for more information.

See also:

  • Weisburd, D., M. Davis, and C. Gill (2015). Increasing Collective Efficacy and Social Capital at Crime Hot Spots: New Crime Control Tools for Police. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 9(3), 265-274.
  • Gill, C., A. Wooditch, and D. Weisburd (2016). Testing the “Law of Crime Concentration at Place” in a Suburban Setting: Implications for Research and Practice. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, published online May 30, 2016.

Process Evaluation of the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative’s School Emphasis Officer Program

Charlotte Gill (PI) and Kirsten Hutzell with Denise Gottfredson (University of Maryland)

City of Seattle Office of City Auditor, $100,000

Seattle’s City Auditor finds that Seattle Police Department has been “thoughtful in the development” of its School Emphasis Officer (school police) program, seeking to avoid the focus on patrol and enforcement that characterizes some police activity in schools. The program’s website states that the SEOs are “specially selected for their interest and experience in working with youth,” and focus on providing support to at-risk youth through promising approaches such as mentoring and conflict resolution/restorative justice, home visits, and referral to services. However, as with most school police programs, Seattle’s approach has not been evaluated. In this process evaluation we documented the SEO program through analysis of program documentation; interviews with key stakeholders, including the SEOs themselves; and observations of the SEOs working in the schools. We found that the program was implemented in line with a non-law enforcement focus and had good potential for integration with services and enhancement of police-community relations. However, it also faced important challenges, including clarity of the program structure; evaluability; and sustainability. We provided recommendations for clarifying the program with a view toward future rigorous evaluation.


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Legal Institutions and Communities

Professor Linda Merola’s research focuses on public opinion about courts and legal issues, with the goal of understanding how legal institutions interact with and serve communities.