Neighborhood – Koper et al. (2016)

Study Reference:

Koper, C.S., Woods, D.J., & Isom, D. (2016). Evaluating a police-led community initiative to reduce gun violence in St. Louis. Police Quarterly, 19(2), 115-149.

See also:

Koper, C.S., Hoffmaster, D., Luna, A., McFadden, S., & Woods, D. (2010). Developing a St. Louis Model for Reducing Gun Violence: A report from the Police Executive Research Forum to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Neighborhood; Focused; Proactive; Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) and a group of partner organizations launched a multi-faceted enforcement and prevention program to target gun violence and other violence in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The project involved increased enforcement and prosecution initiatives, improved monitoring of high-risk probationers, nuisance abatement, physical improvement efforts, community outreach and community policing efforts, and the coordination of these activities by a project working group. These activities were carried out most intensively during a six to nine-month period in 2008.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Outcome measures included data on total Part I violent crimes and Part I violent crimes with guns. Data spanning from 2005 through 2008 was examined for changes in crime levels and trends in the target neighborhood following implementation of the program. Further, researchers compared trends in the target neighborhood to trends in comparable neighborhoods that did not receive interventions like those undertaken by the project team. Together, seven comparison neighborhoods, matched carefully to the intervention neighborhood on 13 characteristics, formed the control group which was compared to the target neighborhood.

What were the key findings?

Relative to trends in comparison areas, violence in the program area declined 18% to 19% during the program period, and violent crimes with guns dropped 28% to 32%. These reductions seemed to be most strongly associated with the program’s heightened enforcement efforts. However, the results were not sufficient to conclude that the program had statistically significant effects beyond its early weeks when enforcement efforts were most intensive and total violence declined significantly.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Although the findings were not conclusive, they suggest that police efforts to reduce violence through multi-agency community initiatives can be successful. However, the researchers suggested that multi-agency programs like this one might be refined and strengthened through further emphasis on formalized problem-solving (e.g., use of the SARA model), high-risk groups, hot spot locations, community participation, and long-term project maintenance.

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