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CeaseFire: A Public Health Approach to Reduce Shootings and Killings

NCJ Number
Date Published
Nancy Ritter
Publication Series
This article describes Chicago's CeaseFire strategy, which uses a public health approach to reduce firearm shootings, and it reports on an evaluation of the strategy's effectiveness.
A rigorous evaluation of Chicago's CeaseFire program, which was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), confirmed anecdotal evidence that had led officials in other cities to adopt the CeaseFire model. The evaluation found that CeaseFire had a significant positive impact on many of the neighborhoods in which it was implemented. There was a decline of 16-28 percent in the number of shootings in four of the seven sites examined. The evaluation concluded that decreases in the size and intensity of shooting hot spots were linked to the introduction of CeaseFire in those areas. In two other areas, shooting hot spots waned, but evidence that this decline was linked to CeaseFire was inconclusive. CeaseFire uses prevention, intervention, and community mobilization strategies in order to reduce shootings and killings. The program was launched in Chicago in 1999 by the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. By 2004, 25 CeaseFire sites existed in Chicago and a few other Illinois cities. Some of the program's strategies were adapted from the public health field, which has had success in changing dangerous behavior. Of all the program's strategies, the most notable involves hiring "violent interrupters." Cease Fire's violence interrupters establish a rapport with gang leaders and other at-risk youth, much as outreach workers in a public health campaign contact a target community. Working alone or in pairs, the violence interrupters cruise the streets at night, mediating conflicts between gangs. Many of the interrupters are former gang members who have served time in prison. 2 notes
Date Created: December 3, 2009