Congressional Briefing: Reducing Violence at Places

HomeOutreach, Symposia and BriefingsCongressional Briefing: Reducing Violence at Places

Reducing Violent Crime at Places: The Research Evidence

Mason LIFE Students at the Natural History Museum and Capitol Hill

Tuesday, February 9, 2009 (10:00 am- 12:00 noon)
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 385

On February 3, 2009, the CEBCP hosted its second Congressional Briefing on “Reducing Violent Crime at Places: The Research Evidence,” led by Dr. Stephen Mastrofski, University Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. Scholars from numerous universities and the Department of Justice joined to present the state of the research on “what works” to tackle violent crime at specific places and among those most at risk.  An article on the briefing was featured in the COSSA (Consortium of Social Science Associates) Washington Update newsletter and the briefing was featured in a GMU Advertisement that appeared in Newsweek and Time Magazine.


Dr. Stephen Mastrofski (George Mason University)
Introduction:Violent Crime Trends and the Importance of Research and Science in Crime Policy. Violence is woven into the fabric of American life.  An examination of violent crime trends, for example, indicates our nation is an international leader in homicide.  While the violent crime rate has declined and stabilized in recent years nationally, it is important to recognize that the risk of violent crime is distributed very unevenly according to characteristics of people and places.  Researchers can mobilize their scientific expertise to help policymakers and practitioners deal most effectively with violence.

Mr. Cody W. Telep (George Mason University)
Police Interventions to Reduce Violent Crime: A Review of Rigorous Research. What interventions “work” when police are trying to reduce violent crime?  By examining only evaluations of interventions that are scientifically valid, this presentation provides a review of what we know works for law enforcement.  Specifically: The most effective police strategies are focused and highly proactive, relying on crime analysis.  Evidence suggests police tend to be particularly successful when tailor-made efforts are concentrated on specific high violence street blocks, corners, and address clusters.

Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe (Temple University)
Intelligence-Led Policing to Reduce Gang Corners and Crime in Camden. Camden (NJ) is the second-most dangerous city in America, with some of the most established and violent drug corners in the country. By combining crime analysis and criminal intelligence sources from confidential informants, covert surveillance, and interviews with arrestees, Professor Ratcliffe will unveil recent insight gained into the impact of drug gangs on local crime patterns – and how this information can be used to create safer communities.

Dr. John MacDonald (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Ricky Blumenthal (RAND Corporation)
Effect of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on Violent Crime in Los Angeles. This presentation describes a research study that examined the effect of established Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on rates of crime and violence in Los Angeles neighborhoods. This study was funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a systematic overview of BIDs and their effect on facilitating community-level change and reductions in interpersonal violence.

Dr. Anthony Braga (Harvard University & University of California, Berkeley)
Pulling Levers Strategies to Prevent Gang Violence. A number of jurisdictions have been experimenting with new problem-oriented frameworks to understand and respond to gun violence among gang-involved offenders.  Pioneered in Boston as part of the Operation Ceasefire initiative, these interventions are based on the “pulling levers” focused deterrence strategy that focuses criminal justice, social service, and community attention on a small number of chronically offending gang members responsible for the bulk of urban gun violence problems. These new strategic approaches have shown promising results in the reduction of violence in six cities – Boston (MA), Chicago (IL), East Los Angeles (CA), Lowell (MA), Indianapolis (IN), and Stockton (CA).

Dr. Timothy S. Bynum (Michigan State University)
Project Safe Neighborhoods: A National Strategy to Locally Address Gun Violence. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) emphasizes the implementation of a multi-agency strategic approach to address gun violence in all 94 Federal Judicial Districts.  PSN builds upon several previous successful violence reduction initiatives to form a comprehensive multi-agency strategy including law enforcement, prosecution, and correctional components.   This presentation will focus upon describing the operation of this initiative and how this national strategy is tailored to address local problems.

Dr. Edmund F. McGarrell (Michigan State University)
Impact of Project Safe Neighborhoods on Violent Crime. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a major violent crime reduction initiative launched in 2001 by the United States Department of Justice.  PSN is a comprehensive national program intended to reduce gun violence at the local level.  It was implemented in all 94 U.S. Attorney districts nationwide to respond to firearms crime problems in each respective district.  This presentation focuses on an assessment of the impact of PSN on levels of violent crime.  Several different research approaches were utilized.  The pattern of results suggested that PSN had an impact on violent crime and the effects were most significant in PSN target cities in districts where the program was implemented with greater intensity.

Dr. Laura Dugan (University of Maryland)
Helping the Victim Get Help: Towards A Strategy to Reduce Intimate Violence. Attempts to prevent, interrupt, or even adjudicate intimate violence against women raises a set of problems different from those officials typically face when addressing non-intimate violence.  Because the victim has a private relationship with the offender, successful intervention usually depends on the victim’s willingness to seek help.  This presentation presents research that examines the conditions that might lead intimate partner violence victims to reach out.

Dr. Sue-Ming Yang (Georgia State University)
Do Broken Windows Cause Violence? This research critically examines a theoretical debate regarding the relationship between disorder and crime. This study shows that urban violence is not a result of disorder, even though they seem to be spatially clustered at the same places.  Moreover, compared to physical disorder, social disorder corresponds with violence more strongly.  The findings indicate that the underlying mechanism between disorder and crime can be best explored with data collected at relatively small geographic places over time.  The implications for disorder-oriented policing will be discussed.

Dr. Thomas Feucht (National Institute of Justice)
Concluding Remarks. The Effective Response to Violent Crime: Research Linked to Practice and PolicyFor forty years, the National Institute of Justice has worked to link criminal justice research to practice and policy. Nowhere has this work been more important than in our response to violent crime. There remains much more that research can do on this front, and Dr. Feucht closes this congressional briefing with his thoughts on this important topic.