Groups – Decker & Curry (2003)

Study Reference:

Decker, S. H., & Curry, G. D. (2003). Suppression without prevention, prevention without suppression: Gang intervention in St. Louis. Policing gangs and youth violence, 191-213.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Groups; Focused; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined two parallel but not intersecting gang interventions in St. Louis. One intervention is the Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI), a suppression effort funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. AGI used zero-tolerance enforcement against gang members in two target neighborhoods, including aggressive curfew enforcement, consent-to-search tactics, and intelligence gathering with the purpose to arrest serious known gang members. The other program is the Safe Futures program, a five-year prevention approach funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The Safe Futures program was designed to incorporate suppression and opportunities for alternative activities and lifestyles for gang members or those at risk of becoming gang members, including drug treatment, job preparation, support in school, and family service. It targeted high-risk neighborhoods.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The authors compared the violent crime trends before (12 months) the implementation of the AGI and during the operation (15 months) of it in the target neighborhood and two contiguous control neighborhoods. The Safe Futures programs largely failed regarding implementation and could not be evaluated.

What were the key findings?

The authors found little significant impact of the AGI intervention on crime. Nine and seven violent crime types declined in each of the target neighborhoods respectively, with half declined and the other half increased in both of the control neighborhoods. Yet few of these declines reached statistical significance.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggested that by operating independently of one another, each of the programs missed the opportunity for the suppression approaches to benefit from prevention activities; prevention efforts, in turn, failed to build on the strength of suppression.

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