Jurisdiction – McGarrell et al. (2012)

Study Reference:

McGarrell, E., Corsaro, N., Melde, C., Hipple, N., Cobbina, J., Bynum, T., Perez, H. (2012). An Assessment of the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative: Final Project Report. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.

See also:

McGarrell, E. F., Corsaro, N., Melde, C., Hipple, N. K., Bynum, T., Cobbina, J. (2013). Attempting to reduce firearms violence through a Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI): An evaluation of process and impact. Journal of Criminal Justice (41)1.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Jurisdiction; Focused; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Mixed effects

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI), developed to support local communities in their efforts to prevent and control gang crime. These task forces used a strategic problem-solving model that increased partnerships among federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies as well as community institutions. Not only did federal prosecutors commit to increased prosecution for illegal possession and use of firearms, but funding was also provided to support ongoing analysis and assessment by researchers as well as a media/outreach partner who would help communicate messages to the public and high-risk populations about the initiative and the risk of violent gun victimization and prosecution. The most common enforcement strategies were increased Federal prosecution, increased State and local prosecution, joint case prosecution screening, and directed police patrols. The most common gang prevention strategies were education and outreach, school-based prevention, ex-offender outreach, and substance abuse treatment.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Multiple methods were used to evaluate the process and impact of CAGI. These included site visits, phone interviews, mail surveys, video conference calls with project staff, and review of progress reports submitted to the Department of Justice. Local crime data were gathered from five of the CAGI cities and city level crime data were collected from all the jurisdictions as well as from comparable cities nationwide. Annual firearm homicide trends were examined in a balanced panel regression framework in order to test whether CAGI cities experienced changes in gun homicide (i.e., a gang violence proxy) between pre- and post-intervention, and accounting for cross-city program dosage, relative to shifts in comparable non-CAGI cities.

What were the key findings?

The study findings are mixed. Overall, the CAGI cities experienced a larger decline in violent crime than the comparison cities, but the difference was not statistically significant when controlling for concentrated disadvantage and population density. There was a consensus across the sites that CAGI had stimulated the development of a variety of new partnerships, mostly among criminal justice agencies. The implementation of reentry interventions was the most challenging intervention, as most sites had difficulty in meeting target client numbers.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

At a minimum, greater attention must be given to effective implementation of programs like CAGI to increase their effectiveness. Also, greater attention should be given to developing reliable measures of gang crime at the local level. The authors argue that federal funding agencies might consider making gang-crime data availability a prerequisite for receiving federal funding for anti-gang programs.

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