This paper reports on the evaluation of the impact of the Boston Gun Project (Massachusetts), a problem-oriented policing initiative designed to counter the epidemic of youth homicide in the city that occurred between the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The evaluation found significant reductions in youth homicides and nonfatal gun violence during project implementation. This reduction remained even after controlling for factors other than the project that might have influenced the reduction in youth violence. Further, the significant reduction in youth homicides was distinctive to Boston when compared with other New England cities and major U.S. cities. The key component of the Boston Gun Project was Operation Ceasefire, whose main elements were a direct law-enforcement attack on illicit firearms traffickers who were supplying youth with guns, along with efforts to deter gang violence. The attack on illicit firearms traffickers involved a coordinated local, State, and Federal intervention that targeted gun trafficking within the State and across State lines. The focus was on traffickers in those makes and calibers of guns most used by gang members. The identification of traffickers and trafficking patterns included the tracing of crime guns and the debriefing of arrested gang members and others involved in gun crimes. Initiatives designed to deter gang violence involved multiple agencies responding swiftly to each and every gang-related violent act. Operations were tailored to individuals and gangs involved in violence. The evaluation's key outcome variable was the monthly number of homicide victims ages 24 and under. Using police data, the evaluation examined the monthly counts of youth homicides in the city between January 1, 1991, and May 31, 1998, the period of the intervention. This was compared with the preintervention period of 1991-1995. 7 figures and 38 notes
Date Published: May 1, 2000
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