Groups – Bynum & Varano (2003)

Study Reference:

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.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Groups; General; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study examined the effect of the Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI) program on chronic gang-related crime in Detroit. Two small geographic areas that were troubled by gang problems were identified to receive concentrated intervention efforts. A Gang Special Unit (GSU) was developed within the Detroit Police Department’s Special Crimes Section (SCS) to implement the intervention, and it partnered with local patrol officers to understand local crime and gang in details. The intervention primarily involved a suppression strategy including crackdown responses such as saturation patrol and aggressive enforcement of city ordinances in identified hot spots within each precinct. It also involved an intensive supervision approach with delinquent youth through weekly school visits. In addition, officers maintained regular contact with local communities and conducted gang awareness presentations, mentoring, and open meetings.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The evaluation compared trends in gang-related crime in the affected precincts to those in a similar precinct (based on geography and demographics). Gang crime was approximated by non-domestic gun-related crimes.

What were the key findings?

There were considerable declines in gun crimes in the target precincts, whereas the number of such offenses rose in the comparison precinct. This was particularly the case in one target precinct, where the reduction represented 112 fewer gun crimes per month.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that anti-gang strategies emphasizing aggressive patrol and suppression strategy of enforcement can be effective in reducing gun violence.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?